With the Great Resignation prevalent across many industry sectors, keeping your current employees engaged plays an even more critical role in today’s hiring marketplace.
That’s because the word will get out about a company’s work environment – whether it is positive, or if the public persona is all smoke and mirrors.
Building and maintaining a positive reputation by engaging current employees must be a key priority for management and HR leaders alike. You want consistent processes in place to examine and reexamine what is working and what needs tweaking. You can build on what is successful and retool initiatives that are less effective.
So how do we ensure that a framework for employee engagement is in place? Here are tried and true practices that will keep your company operations and culture on track to maintain a positive brand image – and serve to attract and retain talent.
Clear and constant communications with all members of your company – from the receptionist to the CFO – is an important value proposition that will yield good will and long-term dividends. To keep employees engaged, try to create:
- Weekly Internal Newsletters sharing company milestones, updated vacation policies, new product releases and promotions and other news and information. Depending upon the size of your company, you can also include a monthly calendar of employee birthdays. After all, who doesn’t like special attention on a birthday from colleagues?
- Town Hall Meetings led by the CEO, either in person or via Zoom, on a quarterly basis that shares the corporate vision, an overview of company successes, personal recognition for employee accomplishments and an “open mic” session for employees to ask questions.
- Slack, Teams, Google Chat, Blink: Whatever internal communications channels your company uses, make sure they are accessible to all staff and intuitive in how they are applied. For example, be smart on how many channels you want colleagues to participate in and make sure there is a reasonable expectation level for involvement. Make sure there is an evaluation process every few months so to ensure efficiencies for respective teams.
A consistent communications plan is key. Whether it be weekly Zoom meetings, internal newsletters and/or in person town hall meetings, keep your communications consistent. Prior to weekly Zoom meetings, make it a point to send an agenda in advance to maximize the time and provide a clear framework of discussion topics.
Transparency and context: If a major change takes place, the best thing to do is provide context and next steps. This minimizes rumors and gossip, mitigates anxiety, allows management and HR to manage the narrative and keeps employees engaged. There are a few things you can put in place should any major change, perceived misstep or new corporate initiative takes place:
- Establish a point of contact: Giving staff a person to speak with will ensure peace of mind and instill confidence among employees.
- Institute an “Ask Me Anything” policy: This is something to consider as a long-term policy. Rideshare service Lyft does this for 30 minutes every Friday, with a 90% favorability rate from their communication teams.
- Monitor Social Media: Companies today know the importance of monitoring, nurturing and being responsive on social media – and it is even more important to keep your social media strategy in check during any company changes or upheaval. Respond intelligently, keep a cool head and contain any public discourse.
- Glassdoor Reviews: A reminder to monitor Glassdoor. It is a site that many Millennials and Gen Z look at while job searching. So make sure you are prepared for questions on negative reviews. More importantly, try to keep negative reviews to a minimum.
Corporate values amplified
Showcasing your corporate values is another important component for maintaining positive visibility. From supporting humanitarian causes, diversity programs, scholarships for employees and charitable issues, to being vocal and forthright about social justice issues, companies can be bullish and boastful about their corporate initiatives, values and contributions.
How do these strategies align with Fortune’s 2022 list of the world’s most admired companies? In ranked order they are:
- Walt Disney
- Berkshire Hathaway
- JPMorgan Chase
Each company has chief executives who are household names in the business world and among their various constituents and stakeholders. They’re visible and vocal about a wide range of issues and topics. With all conglomerates there will be consternation, scandals and criticism. The key is how to handle what comes your way and how to shift the narrative in your favor.
Examples to follow
Here are examples of how the major corporations maintained employee engagement and a solid reputation:
- Tim Cook of Apple is an unrelenting advocate for how Apple products can save lives through their health apps.
- Amazon has withstood a myriad of bad press related to work conditions and it is still ranked number two because of its unmatchable customer service.
- Pfizer leapfrogged up to 4th place in 2022, largely because of its Covid-19 vaccination rollout. The defining factor for that company will be whether it maintains its top ten place in subsequent years.
- Walt Disney’s own heiress released a documentary this year skewering its CEO for his compensation package. However, that did not make a dent on the “magic” that transcends the company worldwide.
- Warren Buffet’s modest lifestyle and commitment to giving away his fortune in the Billion Giving Pledge impresses people everywhere.
- Netflix never backed down from the criticism it received from the Dave Chappelle special; its response was balanced and consistent.
- Consumer reliance on Alphabet and Starbucks are both hard to beat, with Starbucks gaining extra points for consistent innovations during the pandemic.
- Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase has been a consistent presence in the banking world. He is an approachable executive with an indefatigable work ethic and an overall honest, forthright attitude.
Set the stage
It is no secret that the pandemic has changed corporate culture, employee engagement and communications forever. Now internal communications practices, combined with vocal, accessible CEOs who are upfront and personal. are more important than ever.
Prioritize a culture of clear communication to keep employees engaged. Then create examples of it in every form – from emails to meetings to one-on-ones – to help employees feel more connected. An engaged, empowered workforce yields long term dividends and benefits. They provide the positive perception, image and reputation that will attract quality talent to your company.