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October 19, 2006

Communication breakdown

Few would argue the business benefits of having an enthusiastic and motivated workforce, whether this means believing in and understanding the products they represent or improving performance and becoming more effective brand ambassadors – some would even argue that this makes them one of the cornerstones of a successful business. Indeed, organisations with highly favourable employee attitudes have significantly better financial performance, according to a US study conducted by Hay Group in 2003.

So, if employee engagement and motivation is so important, why are so many companies failing in this department? Is it simply that marketers lack the awareness of what channels of communication best suit their staff?

The recent ‘Internal Branding and Experiential Marketing’ global white paper by Jack Morton Worldwide set out to tackle these questions and gauge the impact of various “employee engagement media”.

The most striking statistic from the survey, the respondents of which hailed from the US, UK, Australia and China, is that a paltry 33% of employees are actually satisfied with the way their companies communicate with them. One possible ounce of good news for us is that the figure for China – the world’s most rapidly emerging economy – is even worse, at 15%.

Engaging, interactive and frequent
The study also found that across all the regions surveyed, 36% of respondents said they wanted their company’s communication to be both more engaging and more interactive, and 31% said they wanted it to be more frequent. Age obviously affects people’s attitudes towards this with a worrying 44% of 18 to 23-year-olds calling for internal communications to be more engaging and interactive.

The white paper goes on to say: “The value and impact of employee experiences on employee behaviour are notable. Marketers can leverage potential to create communications in which individual interaction with a manager is integrated with relevant live experiences and communications to elevate impact.”

The survey uncovered an extremely favourable response to employee perceptions of live events: 84% agreed live experiences provided more information than other forms of communication; 86% agreed they are more engaging; and 84% believed they would be more likely to influence behaviour and performance.

The survey also found there was a strong need for live events to be more relevant and “experiential”, with 83% of employees surveyed wanting to be engaged on a personal level and 76% wanting to be related to through their interest and concerns.

Gender also plays a key role in the issue, with live experiences being ranked higher among female employees. Some 44% of women thought that live experiences were the most engaging compared to “other media tested”, as opposed to 37% of men.

Missing a trick
When it comes to what type of communication fits which strategy, the survey says: “Direct communication from a top leader is most effective when it comes to explaining the company’s vision. Direct communication from a manager in tandem with live experiences is the most effect vehicle for providing insights to improve effectiveness.”

If you’re looking to inspire brand advocacy, then live experiences are the way forward. Jack Morton’s study revealed that 86% of employees say that participating in a live experience would make them more likely to talk positively about the company they work for with people outside the organisation. So organisations can raise the value of their internal branding by ensuring that employee engagements are memorable – 83% of employees globally agree the events are the most engaging.

While this is certainly good news for internal events, the overall picture is one of companies failing their staff. If statements made by the Hay Group report are to be believed, then these companies are also failing themselves by missing a trick to become more successful. Something it’s simply quite reckless to do in an increasingly competitive business landscape.

To view the full report, visit Click here

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