Recently Reputation Today carried perspectives on internal communication and I am sharing the complete set of responses to the interview. Keen to hear your views.
i) Employee support can make or break turning a vision into a reality. How difficult is it aligning employees with the corporate vision?
Gaining the commitment of employees is essential for the success of any organizational initiative. Not just the company vision, any programme – small or large will need the organization to explain the rationale and the ‘what’s in it for me’ to employees. Organizations who involve employees at the start of any initiative and are open and transparent about taking on board the ‘voice’ of employees will find it a lot easier. Employees also ‘watch’ their leaders’ actions and when they see them ‘walk the talk’ is when they believe the vision is credible and there is support to see it through. The role of internal communication is therefore crucial to get employees on board with the vision. How the leaders articulate the vision, how closely embedded it is part of the company’s programming, the role employees can play to make the vision come to life and the consistent approach to talking about the vision all matter to the success of the initiative.
ii) How do employees get their sources of information on corporate strategy, benefits news etc? And, how important is the ‘grapevine’?
Employees should ideally get their corporate information from their managers, organizational channels of communication and their leadership. The role each group plays in assimilating the information and sharing it with employees as important as the content itself. This means, when leaders take the time to meet employees face to face the richness of that interactions makes the information credible and trustworthy. When managers discuss the company updates with their colleagues in team meetings they must encourage dialogue and conversations and help improve understanding. When organizational channels serve this information it must be consistent and shared in a format that is accessible, direct, and clear. Grapevine exists in all organizations and in different forms and shapes but it becomes less reliable and available when the company information is timely, relevant and consistent. It becomes ‘important’ when employees don’t get what they need or lose faith in the culture, leadership or communication, especially in times of crisis or when business isn’t faring well. In such cases, having more face to face interactions and open conversations can overcome the gaps in information availability.
iii) How are corporate values being conveyed to employees, with the objective of making them communication ambassadors?
Every employee is expected to be an ambassador of the brand – as they go about their life at work or outside. The opportunities to engage each employee through the life cycle are immense – at orientation, during work scenarios, as they progress through their development journey and when they become an alumni of the organization. Helping employees to appreciate ‘how’ and ‘why’ they need to participate is important in gaining their commitment. By inviting their ideas and suggestions, involving them on communication assignments, recognizing their contributions, empowering them to learn and teach each other we can make every employee a communication ambassador. AtTesco Bengaluru, our communication philosophy considers these aspects. We run periodic surveys and focus groups on our communication quality and impact, have councils (design, editorial, audio-visual, social media) that involve colleagues to co-create content, run campaigns which put the colleague at the heart of our communication (Yammer chats, Facebox – Tesco Bengaluru’s anchors, Reflections, our newsletter is colleague-curated), CSR (where colleagues shape the company’s agenda) and engagement (Talent Showcase – where colleagues entertain each other in an internal platform).
iv) Communicating with millennials are ushering in change today. They are a driving force in the workplace. They’ve pushed boundaries in the workplace, including championing for flexible schedules, better benefits, improved parental leave and fostering the idea that work should feel meaningful. What is the reality in your work environment?
Our workplace also has a sizable number of millennials and we actively understand their needs to improve engagement and involve them in the company’s priorities. Engagement is a two-way street and while the organization can raise awareness about how their work adds value to our goals there is an equal expectation that the millennials will also step up and take ownership for making the organization successful. As mentioned in the previous question we provide numerous opportunities for every colleague to join the conversations, influence how we make an impact internally and externally and we encourage everyone to participate.
v) How do you measure employment engagement, like do you have Employee Satisfaction Index?
We conduct periodic surveys to gauge not just our colleagues’ engagement but also a host of other aspects such as alignment and understanding of our core purpose/values, the benefits, policies, the workplace environment, manager effectiveness etc. The surveys are run by independent third party research agencies and therefore the responses are confidential. This apart we have regular face to face interactions with all colleagues across the business to share updates and take questions. We receive feedback that guides our thinking and approach to colleague engagement.