Employees need to receive regular, targeted communication else it can cause a lower levels of productivity and engagement within the workforce.
However, when it comes to non-office based employees and integrating them within communications, things can get a bit more difficult.
Here’s our list of tips on how to engage and communicate with all employees in your organisation, regardless of their location.
Integrate the entire workforce and their opinions
When you are planning a communications strategy for non-office based employees, the key is to get the whole workforce involved immediately, says Mark Carman, director of communication services at Edenred UK.
“Get local managers, engagement ambassadors and influencers on board early in the process,” he says. “Get employees involved by encouraging them to ask questions. It has to be a two-way process to be effective.”
At the end of the day, the strategy needs to be accessible to all employees, so ask questions. “We find if [organisations] consult with employees, influencers or engagement ambassadors and ask them how they want to be communicated to, [they] will get the message on tone, so it will be read and accepted when distributed,” Carman says.
If employees have limited access to email, or are in need of a more ‘instant’ communication tool, you could look at a software solution such as Slack. “The trick is giving them a reason to use up valuable storage on their own mobile devices to download the app,” says Carman. “By integrating social recognition within the app [employers] are more likely to get [employees] to download it and use it on a regular basis, so they can recognise their peers and friends at work. [The organisation] can then use notifications to update employees about their benefits, too.”
Focus on a coherent strategy
Having a clear and coherent strategy is essential, says Sara Hope, co-founder of The Conversation Space. “Keep it simple and have a strategy that’s aligned to the [organisation’s] objectives,” she advises. “Take into account the context, culture and make-up of all the different work sites. Share examples which demonstrate the different areas and how they contribute.”
Hope recommends speaking to as many people as possible, both internally and externally, about what makes an effective communications strategy for non-office-based workers. “[Employers] need to build a case and understand [their] customers, clients and teams and create strong relationships,” she notes. “Gather as much data as possible, and use storytelling to bring the core messages to life.”
Helen Norris, former HR director at Nationwide Building Society says key messages should be short, memorable and consistent: “Communicate on a need-to-know basis,” she advises. “Take time to target messages to the right audience and ensure that the headers and titles are attention-grabbing.”
Use different channels
Email, intranet and face-to-face communications are the most effective, but there are other delivery methods, says Norris. “There is still a place for print, which can be a very engaging medium when used effectively,” she notes. “Video is also one of the most valuable communication tools available and can deliver a lot of information in a short space of time.”
Employers should avoid using jargon and instead look at ways of bringing in humour and personality. “Tell a story – employees like to hear about their peers – and get creative. Use teasers, such as a snippet of a bigger image or a few seconds of a video to create interest, and the employee will stay more engaged.”
Having employees directly involved in communications should also carry on past the initial planning stage. “Make it interactive, ask employees to comment, or put forward their ideas, suggestions and responses to a particular communication. Use the intranet to give employees a voice,” Norris adds.