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Engage Your Hard to Reach Employees

hard to reach teams

Engage Your Hard to Reach Employees

The number of employees we segment into the ‘hard to reach’ category is expanding. Technological advances, a ‘give it to me now’ culture, and new hybrid/home working policies are all influencing how and when our employees work. From warehouses to home offices, supermarkets to oil rigs, hospitals to delivery drivers – our hard to reach employees make up a huge part of our working population.

It therefore comes as no surprise that in a recent survey we conducted with internal communication professionals, 27% said an inability to engage their hard-to-reach employees is their greatest challenge right now.

In some ways it is refreshing to see that this is a top priority for over a quarter of internal communicators. It suggests they recognise the importance of engaging with these people. For too long, organisations have focused on communicating with the easy-to-reach people; relying on third hand channels to cascade information. Not only is it impossible to know how effective these channels are, but it is also a sure-fire way to make these people feel less important. To feel marginalised and disconnected from the collective vision. Once that feeling is ingrained productivity will decrease and staff turnover will increase.

So let’s prevent this from happening and ensure you find the right ways to engage with your hard to reach employees.

5 steps to better engage your hard to reach employees

1. Select your channels and get buy-in

To enhance communication effectiveness, firstly assess your current channels. Are they demanding too much employee time? Is there a perception of distraction from actual work? While existing channels may be suitable, cultural shifts may be necessary.

Manager and senior leadership support is vital. They must lead by example, engaging in communication channels and promoting participation. Emphasizing the purpose behind new methods is key to improving engagement.

So what about the channels? There are many to consider:

  • Team briefings
  • Newsletters
  • Emails
  • Posters and signage
  • An internal communication app
  • Letters
  • An intranet
  • Social media channels
  • Text messages
  • Company events
  • Employee surveys

It is highly likely you will select a few different channels. In fact, in the study we carried out, most organisations have at least 3 channels to communication with their employees. As the provider of an internal communication app, we are obviously advocates of using technology but, ultimately, you need to consider what is right for your employees. What kind of people are they? Is the majority of your workforce made up of millennials who would embrace an app? Or do you have a real mix and need to consider two internal communication channels at the opposite end of the spectrum?

If you’re unsure, carry out an employee survey to find out more about your hard-to-reach employees. That way you will be confident in your decisions.

2. Harness your hard to reach advocates

Humans are like sheep. We are more likely to join in and get involved when we see others doing so. Therefore, once your channels are up and running and while you are building up your engagement levels, advocates could really help you. Identify who is engaged within your hard-to-reach communities and use their enthusiasm to spread your messages wider. Encourage them to promote the channels you are using and work closely with them to gauge feedback.

Within our internal communications software we automatically identify these advocates making it easy for you to identify and engage with them.

3. Engage rather than broadcast

The moment you start broadcasting information through your channels is the moment you risk disengaging your employees. Where possible, segment your employees so that the communications they receive are only relevant to them. If everything they receive is interesting, they’ll keep reading.

As you put a communication together always consider what’s in it for the reader. How is that information going to help them and what do you want them to do. By keeping these basics in mind, you will write communications for your employees rather than for your leadership team.

Our internal comms app also has the functionality to like or comment on messages which further helps employees to engage with what they are reading. Not to mention helping you to see what people like reading, but I’ll come to that in a moment!

4. Consider your timings

Consider the timing of your communication to enhance engagement. Are there specific busy periods to avoid? Establishing a communication schedule familiarizes employees with when to expect messages, fostering engagement. Routine, whether at work or home, significantly aids engagement by prompting employees to allocate time consistently

5. Measure and take action

You’ve established your communication channels, gained buy-in from key stakeholders, and crafted a robust communication strategy. But to truly gauge success, it’s essential to understand how effective your communications are. Without this insight, you’re operating blindly, unable to assess employee engagement or identify areas for improvement.

Transitioning to our internal communications software, you’ll find a comprehensive solution for tracking interactions, comparing engagement metrics, and conducting surveys to delve deeper into employee preferences.

Furthermore, our software allows you to pinpoint teams that may be disengaged, providing valuable insights to address issues before they become entrenched.

As for analysing engagement data, the approach is flexible, but it’s crucial to have a reliable method in place. Utilise the gathered insights to drive meaningful improvements and demonstrate your commitment to employee engagement.

Embarking on this journey to enhance employee engagement requires patience, but by following these steps diligently, you’ll witness tangible results.

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Daniel Wright

Marketing Executive

Passionate in helping internal communicators reach and engage their organisation’s employees. 

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