Remember the “all employees must attend” meeting late on a Friday afternoon? If so, you’re not alone. It usually meant a change in benefits, a buyout, a big corporate pivot or new initiatives that “requires everyone’s full support to succeed.”
More often than not, employees slink away from these gatherings with a sense of resignation. Management has come down with another set of requirements, and everyone needs to figure out their part and then get the work done. There’s no sense of collaboration, and the buy-in is marked more by apathy than enthusiasm.
Connect Initiatives to Employees
How to fix that? For starters, communicate what’s going on in a way that inspires understanding amongst the rank and file. Lay out the issue, the plan to tackle it and then explain how the company’s future will be affected by the success or failure of this initiative, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to get involved. Employees want to hear from management. At the same time, they want them to speak in plain English. Make sure you explain not just what it means to the company, but how it impacts employees.
Show and Tell
Most companies are good at telling employees about initiatives, but neglect to show how they work in practice. Visuals reinforce messages and improve understanding. For a recent issue of YOU, an employee magazine we publish for HCA, we wanted to communicate the role that all employees play in determining patient satisfaction. We created a story that explained why it was important and how it was measured. To reinforce the message, we included profiles of employees who play very different roles and showed how each of their actions affected the patient experience.
Employees can provide great ideas for achieving corporate objectives, if given the opportunity to provide input. For the HCA magazine, we provided links to go online for more in-depth information and asked employees for feedback on how they impact the patient experience.
The end result was a comprehensive content package that took a complicated subject like patient satisfaction and broke it down into digestible pieces: What it is, how it affects the company and how every employee can help. Engaging stories about other employees personalized the subject. Easily accessible calls to action created buy-in. All of it works together to drive employees to propel an important initiative, and therefore the business, forward.