Had a Great Year? Are You Tapping Your Employees to Promote Your Brand


It is that time of the year when most organizations look to celebrate their successes and engage staff in year-end parties and communication. It is also that time of the year when internal communicators are hard pressed to deliver high quality content and communication even as work winds down!

However, in the frenzy to get a great event done or communication out very often we miss out on opportunities to help staff rewind, recollect, recognize and relay the best moments of the year with their families and friends. The multiplier effect of improving the brand reach and recall is immense and here are some recommendations on what can work.

Choose the best moments: A great start to the New Year begins with appreciating what got accomplished this year. Therefore, internal communicators who usually have a ‘bird’s eye’ view of all that takes places across the businesses can do their bit by collating the best moments. Again, not all the milestones may be relevant to share. So choose what you want to relay. It can be in the form of an Infographic or a presentation that plays on your plasma screens or a pop-up on your desktops.

There is a lot to say – spread out the message: Every organization, big or small, has many accomplishments and it is important to help employees reflect on it. Be it the number of client wins, a new product launch, scale of operations, the quality of recognition programs or initiatives to improve workplace experience. Spread the message over the weeks leading to a wrap-up event or a summary communication.

Lead up to the event: Very often employees need to be reminded and reinforced with messages that made the year relevant and enriching for your organization’s stakeholders. It helps to lead up to your party with snippets of the best moments. Invite employees to discuss, engage in conversations that make them feel that they belong and are proud of where they are. Even better if you have coached and designated bloggers, ‘tweeters’ and ‘Facebookers’ who can get content hosted real-time and consistent with your brand.

Get a better sense of what matters to your employees: Today most employees have their own high end camera phones and digital devices and they can take far better images than what you can imagine.So instead of inviting agencies to photograph and videotape your organization’s event give your employees a free hand. ‘Crowdsourcing’ images and videos are a great way to also get a good sense of what your employees observe and relate to. Review the images and look for trends. For example, a member of a company’s informal photography club shot images of leaders dancing with others on stage. To him, leadership participation made it feel like a good place to be.

Tap into your immense employees’ social networks: There is nothing more powerful than all your employees sharing, blogging, tagging, ‘digging’ and ‘tweeting’ what makes your workplace tick.  The multiplier effect can do wonders for your employer brand.

Trust employees to be mindful of your brand: There is always a fear that employees will misuse images and footage in social media forums that can embarrass the organization. I strongly believe that if we make employees feel responsible for leveraging content in the right way and give them clear directions there is no possibility that they will let you down. In fact, your brand gets a boost if word gets around to campuses about how cool the culture is. It gets more prospective candidates excited and therefore gets organizations first-day slots on campus.

Allow staff to share their perspectives: So what did your employees feel about the year gone by? Which specific event or milestone struck them as important? What made them most proud? You never know the insights that you will get and help you think more about areas to focus in the next year.

Have other suggestions? Share them here.

How Should You Gauge Employee Engagement?


Very often employee engagement is measured by surveys that ‘ask’ staff about how they feel about their commitment in their respective organizations.

What they fail to do is to gauge what employees actually ‘do’ or identify parameters that directly impact behavior. Also, employee engagement is considered an organization’s imperative while in reality it is a two-way street. People join organizations because they want to contribute to a ‘shared’ future and they ‘expect’ the organization will clear roadblocks to make their successful.

I discussed this subject in an opinion piece on PR Moment and you can read the complete article here:

http://prmoment.in/1121/How-should-you-measure-employee-engagement.aspx

Keen to hear your point of view.

 

 

Internal Communications Book Reviewed by Kevin Ruck on Simply-Communicate


I am delighted to share that Kevin Ruck, a respected leader in communications reviewed my book on Simply-Communicate, a leading global community of over 20,000 internal communication professionals. I had the opportunity to also feature on the December edition of the Simply-TV show on Friday, December 7.

Kevin is a founding director of PR Academy, a qualified lecturer and a life coach. He has worked in communications within the telecoms and ICT sector for more than 18 years. He has several professional memberships including the British Psychological Society  and as a Fellow of the CIPR. He is the editor and co-author of the book  Exploring Internal Communication.

Here is an extract of his review of my book – Internal Communications – Insights, Practices and Models:

Internal Communications: Insights, practices and models provides a valuable contribution to the growing list of resources available to new internal communication practitioners, whatever region in the world they work. The models, tips and examples provide plenty of practical tools to use. I am sure it will inspire many people to join this exciting new function in India and to become part of the growing global internal communication community.

It is interesting to see a focus on principles that will sound familiar to practitioners in the UK and US. Verghese suggests that success factors for practice are the maturity of the organisation to understand internal communication, an open culture, and the provision of resources. Again these are familiar themes, so the reader may be forgiven for wondering if the situation for practitioners in India is that different.

The chapters that make the most interesting reading are those that get closer to understanding the challenges for internal communication in India. Research on practice is very limited and leaders have traditionally treated internal communication as a “trivial” function. This is now changing and though the reasons for this are not fully explored it seems as if it is through the influence of multinationals that have entered India.”

You can read the complete review at: http://www.simply-communicate.com/news/book-reviews/internal-communications-india-echoes-principles-and-challenges-faced-uk

Get hold of your copy of the book at the following sites:

http://sagepub.in/browse/book.asp?bookid=1770&Subject_Name=&mode=1 (For India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka)

http://www.sagepub.com/books/Book240430(Rest of the world)

http://www.infibeam.com/Books/internal-communications-insights-practices-models-aniisu-k-verghese/9788132109662.html

http://www.flipkart.com/internal-communications-813210966x/p/itmddg38tmpdy59h?pid=9788132109662&_l=pMHn9vNCOBi05LKC_PwHFQ–&_r=XPodqiVjmNv0yZrgf3fOqA–&ref=4d3751ab-d2b3-4d3f-ae98-371bef95d9c0&otracker=start

http://www.indiaplaza.com/internal-communications-aniisu-k-verghese/books/9788132109662.htm

http://www.amazon.com/Internal-Communications-Insights-Practices-Response/dp/813210966X

http://www.crossword.in/books/internal-communications/p-books-9788132109662.html

http://www.homeshop18.com/internal-communications/author:aniisu-k-verghese/isbn:9788132109662/books/miscellaneous/product:30285624/cid:14567/

http://books.google.co.in/books/about/Internal_Communications.html?id=ddEkb4ePcpoC&redir_esc=y

Balancing An Organization’s Oversight and Staffs’ Personal Conduct


When and how must organizations intervene on personal matters that concern their staff? What if the issue is national and international news? How can internal communications help overcome unanswered questions?

The recent jailing of an Indian couple in Norway has opened up questions about ‘personal conduct’ and an organization’s oversight on their staffs’ personal lives.  If the organization goes out of its way to help it will receive flak for supporting erring employees. If it remains passive it will get accused of being insensitive to the needs of their employees.  In this case the stakes are higher with the government also tentative about intervening overtly.

The scripted reaction from the organization indicated that while they were willing to support the employee it was cautious about going overboard with their actions.

Here is the response from the organization concerned as quoted by the media:

“The court has given a verdict based on its assessment of the facts as they pertain to the case. This is very unfortunate for all concerned. We have provided help and necessary support to the employee to ensure due process and legal support. We hope that the family has the strength and resilience to get through these trying times”.

There is a lot to lose for any organization if their employees become liabilities and damage the brand. This specific case is turning into a PR concern with growing global interest in how the Indian government and the organization are responding to the crisis.

Especially when organizations (particularly in India) claim to treat their employees like ‘extended’ family members such situations test their ability to walk the talk.

Many organizations have code of conduct guidelines and trainings for their employees as well as cultural awareness initiatives to sensitize their staff on how to be effective brand ambassadors.  There are many recent episodes where organizations have ‘gagged’ their staff from speaking to the media, talking about recent internal developments or posting anything on social media channels.

There are a lot of questions which need addressing with employees.

–          What is the most recent update on the episode?

–          What is the organization’s take?

–          How is the organization supporting the employee and the family?

–          What can we do to be more aware of a country’s laws?

–          How can the organization educate employees on areas that go beyond the realm of professional work?

The last question is very relevant considering more and more Indian employees are connected with work beyond official hours due to the advent of social media.  Also the growing use of social media is fast blurring the boundaries between personal and professional lives.

If an organization expects you to be ‘available’ beyond office hours isn’t it fair for an employee to also expect support for incidents that take place ‘outside of work’?

I am aware of many companies investing in employee assistance programs and educating parents on the importance of effective parenting. There are benefits such as flexi-working hours and crèches in-house that support parents to cope better. However, there are a lot of hurdles to get staff to attend or make time for such programs.

Such initiatives often have a ‘stigma’ attached to them. Employees believe they know it all and attending such programs means that they have a ‘problem’ and in turn can affect their perception among peers.

Here are a few internal communications recommendations to create an open environment that discusses the blurring of personal and professional boundaries.

–          Build the case into the organization’s learning repository: There is nothing more powerful than accepting the issues which this case brings out and educating others.

–          Talk about it while inducting new employees: Every new hire will appreciate the openness if this incident is discussed and clarified at the beginning of their career at the firm.

–          Have your leaders be more approachable: Those who have travelled widely will have pearls of wisdom to share and it can enrich others in the organization.

–          Reiterate the company’s position and employees’ responsibilities: Very often, discussions on the employment contract get relegated to the back-burner till such episodes occur. It is helpful to reframe what everyone is responsible for in protecting the brand and upholding personal and professional standards.

Have other thoughts?

Share them here. I am keen to hear from you.