Incentives for internal contests and promos – the thin line

There seems to be a fine line when it comes to introducing incentives to employees for participating in internal contests and promos. I am facing a typical issue…with the noble intention of making the intranet a truly fun place to visit, I put up a plan to popularize the pages with fun events and activities online. To drive traffic and participation, the concept of introducing prizes can be viewed in two ways and I am writing this to help other internal communicators overcome challenges they may face.

First, some organizations view incentives as a necessary evil to get participation. It helps build internal brands and improve engagement.

On the other hand, there is the school of thought that employees should ideally participate with or without incentives – since the programs are directed at them.

 To me, this is also a factor of the organization’s culture and values.

Consistency vs the ‘new look’

We are all fond of getting a little change in our lives…….- a new hair-do, a new pair of glasses…..but when it comes to changing an internal web page…..we are often at cross roads with regard to the overall look and feel…..the debate – time tested vs the unknown………which I am sure most internal communicators must have been through on numerous ocassions. Fighting the need to stand apart amidst a clutter of communication or keeping a consistent look and feel. Be it for a poster creative or a micro site.

While most organizations have defined style guides for creating collateral, there is often an urge in ‘not so strict’ communication teams and firms to create something ‘different’ to make an impact.

 My heart is firmly on betting for the time tested. I believe that content drives design and not the other way around.

Have a viewpoint?

Communicating while in transit

In India, with the outsourcing boom, we have witnessed a spurt of transport fleet management entities which ferry employees to and from their homes and work.

I am sure it is a unique concept compared to any other nation involved in outsourcing. Our challenges stem from matching shift timings, infrastructure issues, transport drawbacks among others.

Well, internal communicators in India have been quick to tap this new opportunity. I am aware of radio jingles and messages being placed within these vans (mostly Toyota Qualises or Tata Sumos) and catching employees where they least expect to be bombarded with information!

Again, communicators need to be aware that such extention of campaigns are feasible only when the vans are company owned vehicles and not ‘outsourced’ to thrid party vendors!

I usually take this drive time to meditate while my pick-up vehicle meanders through Bangalore’s irritating traffic!

Bringing the buzz back to the intranet

While I believe that intranets should be self-running animals, it often becomes difficult to start the initial dialogue and get a pulse of organization.

With page views and content contributions few and far between, I recently initiated a set of fun activities on the intranet after cajoling some employees to champion the pages. One of them – Take a Guess is already a big hit before getting launched! Employees happened to view the column ( where a photograph taken by an employee is posted and others guess the location) and have started bombarding us with answers!

An e-zine which we started publishing recently packs enough punch to get them contributing.

 Have other ways to make the intranet sing? Share it here.

Pink Slip Awards?

 This is a fiendishly named award for employer branding! In India, Time of India, one of the leading publications in the country which has a recruitment insert called Times Ascent – quite popular. The concept of creating an awards around recruitment marketing and employer branding is quite unique in these parts though.

But the awards branding itself might be debatable!

Playing it ‘politically correct’ in internal communications!

How often have you come across a situation where you need to balance content based on geographic sentiments? Have you revised your internal communications to include ‘lesser’ known locations?

In India, with the growing need to expand, more and more organizations are moving to Tier 2 and 3 cities ( to the layman, apart from the metro cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai, there are newer locations like Coimbatore, Kochi and Pune which have picked up speed in terms of investments). These smaller locations have fewer employees and therefore most often get lesser attention. Leading to embarassing ‘misses’ in reaching communication collateral and invites for critical campaigns! Have experienced it first hand and the only way internal communicators overcome these locational hassles is by making regular visits to such locations and investing time with the associates.

While it may not always be practical to travel and with air-travel not very comfortable ( the airports give our railway stations a run for their money with passenger traffic!) it makes sense for internal communicators to develop other strategies to ‘win’ the ‘not so favourite’ locations.

Some ideas including providing seperate sections on the intranet and e-zines which reach companywide. Making location specific internal communication key contacts as leads in channeling information.

Is event communication a subset of internal communication?

In India, the need for the hour in most organizations is employee engagement and retention. Organizations now go to any length to make any activity an event!

I have seen many Corporate Communication teams hire event management experts on board to manage the spurt of programs which are branded and sold internally as ‘events’. These fall unde the overall need for internal communications to engage and motivate employees.

Some Communication team structures have ‘insourced’ event communication to a seperate group which looks into logistics, venue selection and foood/beverages. Others have a central point of event communication support within the team.

The impact and scale of event communication varies within organizations depending on the scope and number of employees who need to be ‘engaged’. Quite a unique phenomenon! Unsure if this is also the case in other countries.

 While it is easy to measure the outcome of the event, internal communicators need to keep in mind the long term implications. We are building in a survey mechanism which tracks ‘engagement’ and ‘association’ with the business and brand.