Expand strategies and tactics to effectively share messages with employees
If you thought 2022 proved difficult to reach your employees effectively and efficiently, you haven’t seen anything yet. This year, a number of issues will make it harder than ever for companies to deliver messages to their teams, and to ensure those messages have been received and understood. A fractured workplace, information overload and rising mistrust in communication channels all threaten effective messaging. As corporate communicators, you will need to use every arrow in your quiver to overcome these challenges. You can do it — but only if you are engaged in the strategy process up front.
Challenge #1: Where’s my team?
Three years ago, most employees were typically found in their offices. During the era of COVID, they could be tracked down at home. This year, team members can be anywhere and everywhere. Many companies are still trying to create a workplace policy regarding remote and onsite regulations. While some employees have eagerly returned to the workplace, others have plainly stated they will never go back.
Creating a culture of engagement and awareness — let alone an effective communication program — is enormously challenging when your team members can be virtually anywhere on any given day. Communicators will need to work with colleagues in every department — including IT and HR — to create a system that reaches employees at the same time, no matter where they may set up shop. You must establish a system with a series of redundancies in place to make sure messages are delivered simultaneously to all employees – whether they’re working down the hall or relaxing on a balcony in a tropical timeshare.
Challenge #2: Too many channels, not enough time.
I’m old enough to remember when basic cable changed the landscape of broadcast television. Viewers went from an option of maybe five or six channels to more than 100. But the options were so great, so overwhelming that many viewers gave up and simply tuned into old reruns of Dragnet.
That same dynamic is playing out in the workplace. Employees now get their corporate news from a dizzying variety of sources, including face-to-face meetings, emails, social media and traditional media sources. You’d think this would make communication easier, but it has the opposite effect. As a communicator, you will need to direct your attention to every medium available to employees and make sure your messages are the first employees hear. This means jumping on news quickly, providing updates and directing resources to each communication channel.
Challenge #3: Trust, but verify.
The communication landscape is becoming increasingly murky, and trust is eroding. Twitter is imploding and its verification processes are vanishing. The federal government has decreed that federal employees delete Tik Tok from their social media devices. A recent Washington Post survey revealed that some 70% of respondents simply don’t trust Facebook at all.
In this environment, employers have the advantage. A recent Edelman Trust Barometer survey found that 78% of employees trust their employers when it comes to information. That is higher than any other source. Companies need to leverage this advantage by working with your communication teams to do the following:
- Involve your communicators up front. Communicators are most effective at driving messaging when we are part of the strategic planning process. When we know what’s coming down the pike, we can develop plans and priorities that can cut through the noise and reach our colleagues.
- Provide the support we need to reach our colleagues wherever they may be. And trust us to get the job done.
- Commit to communication. Utilize every medium, from in-person meetings and videos to social media and online sessions, to get in front of team members. And be sure to provide a feedback mechanism to give your colleagues a chance to ask questions and challenge assumptions.
If challenges are opportunities in disguise, then 2023 is a year ripe with opportunities. Communicators can take a lead role in developing and driving clear, effective and trusted messaging throughout the year. If you’re ready to develop your strategic communications plan, read my colleague’s blog, “Make your strategic priorities count with an effective communications plan” to get you started.
And if you want help, Pivot Strategies has a talented team of communicators ready to tackle the opportunities and challenges that the new year brings. Connect with us and let’s get to work.
What do you think? What are the issues and challenges that communicators will face in 2023, and how will you prepare for them?
About the Author
Mark Lindley, Senior Communications Consultant
Mark Lindley brings more than 25 years of experience in the field of corporate communications. He has worked in a wide variety of sectors, including manufacturing, telecommunications, food ingredients and consumer goods. His background extends to all sectors of the communications field, including such areas as corporate branding, strategic message development, employee engagement, change communication, crisis communication and executive positioning and speechwriting. He has created and executed internal and external communication programs in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia.