Remember: Employees Are Our Customers Too
Tight deadlines, heavy workloads, structural changes, financial security, health and safety concerns – these are just a few of the many challenges employees face today. In the new norm where we are bombarded with a constant stream of business and personal demands, effective communication is key to ensuring a workforce that is ready and able to sustain themselves, their families, and the business for the long haul. But how do we do that? We need to think of our employees as we do our external customers, because in reality, employees are our internal customers – the foundational talent who will help us meet our critical business goals.
So, first and foremost, you must do your “due diligence” and get to know your customer – a stakeholder analysis of sorts. Take time to understand what challenges your employees face and what needs they have that aren’t being met. This may involve connecting with your employee base via town halls, small-group gatherings, or 1:1 meetings and listening to what they have to say. Armed with that knowledge, you can genuinely convey empathy within your communications and acknowledge their struggles. Being heard and understood goes a long way on the road to sustained employee engagement.
Like our external customers, employees receive a myriad of sound bites of information each day that are frenetically competing for their attention – both at work and at home. In the age of social media, we need to keep our communications brief. No one has the time or desire to slog through paragraphs of text anymore. So, we must ensure key messages and actions needed are clear and succinct. Also, strive to incorporate captivating graphics. Appealing images and effective use of color can enhance employee understanding of the subject matter and can be an interesting way to break up the message.
And finally, have fun! We live in serious times these days, but when appropriate, add a little levity to the message. A lighthearted joke, a short educational game/contest, or a fun/interesting break from the norm may be a much-needed distraction.
Cutting through the noise of information is no easy task these days, especially when employees are distracted by both personal and professional challenges. But by adhering to a few basic principles that are “tried and true” when communicating with external customers, we have a better chance of reaching and engaging our employees for the long haul. Because after all, our employees are our customers too!