Engaging diverse workforces

Our internal communications expert, Joanna Jenkins, and a panel of comms gurus took part in our free breakfast panel discussion – to discuss how developing creative communications can drive engagement.

The conversation covered challenges keeping internal comms professionals up at night, particularly around engaging with diverse workforces. The following are a few of the questions we discussed at the event.

Honey on Toast Breakfast Panel
Q1. Translating communications – does it help engagement or create silos?

The effect of language barriers on communication in the workplace can cause difficulties and silos, but dealing with these issues and showing staff that efforts will be made to speak to them in their native language can go a long way towards aiding employee engagement.

“Language is important but it needs to reflect how people really talk”
Liam Fitzpatrick, Consultant

“Ensure critical information is translated for all. Employees need to have a thorough understanding of the business’s vision, values and goals and with their role in achieving them.”
Ivana Djordkevic, Shell

“It depends on the content needing translation.
You need to consider translation on a case-by-case basis.”
Jenni Field, CIPR Inside

“The channels you use to communicate through can help to overcome language barriers. Video has the ability to offer instant translations, either through the voiceover or through subtitles.
The Code of Conduct we created for Serco featured 10 different language options at the click of a button. The use of graphics and making communication more visual, for example through infographics (as with our work for Gatwick) also helps make complex messages more easily understood by all.”
Lee Smith, Honey

Honey on Toast Breakfast Panel

Q2. What tools would you suggest to empower line managers?

Line managers play a critical role in influencing employee attitudes and behaviours.
They nurture and sustain employee involvement, act on behalf of different stakeholders and translate between them, ultimately helping to bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality.

 “It’s all about human interaction and relationships. We forget that comms is about relationships and fundamental human behaviour. People need interaction, and it’s in these interactions that you can find your solutions.”
Joanna Jenkins, Honey

“Five questions to always ask: Do they know comms is their job? Have you explained the deep background – not just a PowerPoint? What training and support can you give them? What tools do they have? How do you show them you are listening?”
Liam Fitzpatrick, Consultant

“Invest your time in building relationships. Talk to line managers; understand their day. When I worked with M&S, they used local and legal news for their office.
Understanding the 24/7 world will unlock your manager challenges.”
Jenni Field, CIPR Inside

“Most important, is training them to develop the skills to manage people. The need for line managers to ‘own’ people management is often quoted as being essential to successful business performance.”
Joanna Jenkins, Honey

“There’s no secret magic to effective internal comms – just customise it for your line managers.”
Liam Fitzpatrick, Consultant

“The line manager is your only link between this group of people. They are the conduit between the frontline and management messages. Helping them communicate simply and effectively, like we did with our animations for Serco, makes a world of difference.”
Lee Smith, Honey

Honey on Toast Brochure

Q3. How do you deal with organisations that don’t value internal communications?

Internal communicators can struggle to demonstrate the value of campaigns.
Research shows that engaged employees are more productive, but it’s still difficult to quantify.

“Start by asking your senior management what success looks like for them. This determines what specific information needs measuring to demonstrate value.”
Lee Smith, Honey

70% of senior managers are numerical, so speak their language.”
Joanna Jenkins, Honey

“Think what’s necessary for the team. Understand their purpose and where they need support, using channels to align them effectively.”
Jenni Field, CIPR Inside

“If you have difficulty justifying the value of comms to C-suite, skew your reporting to address their challenges. What you mean by value and what they mean by value might be different, so you need to marry those viewpoints. Find out what success would look like for them. Anticipate what risk and return they expect. Asking what value means for them means you’re aligned to build strategy around upfront conversations, aligning expectations to the company narrative.”
Jenni Field, CIPR Inside

Honey on Toast Discussion

Q4. Should you involve external specialists in your employee engagement campaigns?

No-one understands your business, employees and culture like you do. However, you might need expert advice or a particular skill.

“External support isn’t a bad thing.
It isn’t a negative standpoint, especially if you are a small team.”
Jenni Field, CIPR Inside

“External help can work well in specialist communications areas such as culture transformation and change management.”
Joanna Jenkins, Honey

“External communications agencies can use strategic and creative thinking to find compelling ways to communicate with your workforce, bringing your communications to life and increasing engagement levels.”
Lee Smith, Honey

Honey On Toast Breakfast Panel

Q5. How can we get high quality engagement across remote locations?

Remote employees are commonplace in today’s workplace and managers need to equip themselves with resources to keep them engaged, using tech tools to maintain high engagement.

“Consider other mediums for your communications, such as video, podcasts and narrated animations that can be just as emotive, engaging and accessible to large numbers of employees.”
Lee Smith, Honey

“Internally, you have access to audience samples all around you. Tap into what you’ve got and gather POVs yourself. Consider what will work best across your employee culture.”
Ivana Djordkevic, Shell

“Don’t neglect the social aspect.
Engage in some personal meetings, where you can communicate openly and build a relationship.”
Joanna Jenkins, Honey

Honey on Toast

Q6. How can you improve your working relationship with unions?

Employers and employee unions want the same thing, but they’re often on opposite sides of the bargaining table, so their relationship can be tense.

“My approach is to take 200 people from across the organisation and ask ten questions. I repeat this quarterly so I can track how the values are moving through the organisation and address any discontent with research to quell any arguments.”
Liam Fitzpatrick, Consultant

“Employers and unions can gain more out of their interactions if they improve their working relationship. Cultivate mutual respect by acknowledging each side has a valued purpose.”
Lee Smith, Honey

“Good relationships with unions are essential to keeping your employees engaged. You need to cultivate an ongoing regular partnership.”
Jenni Field, CIPR Inside

“Regular communication is great for improving the working relationship. Proactive policies and practices will boost the union’s confidence in the working relationship and teamwork.”
Joanna Jenkins, Honey

“Unions are faster, more trusted and brief you on your level. Work on your internal speed and respond fast, before negative viewpoints are formulated and stuck in everyone’s minds.”
Liam Fitzpatrick, Consultant

 

We’d love to hear from you…
If your brand is dealing with any of these challenges or you’d like to pick our brains about internal comms and employee engagement, get in touch.
hello@honey.co.uk         +44 20 7354 4150