It’s business planning time for many employers and we thought it might be useful to share some of the recent conversations we’ve had with our clients to perhaps help inform your own discussions.
“Why do I need a budget for internal comms AND employee engagement, they’re the same thing aren’t they?”
Er, no, ‘fraid not, but it’s a common misconception. At the most basic level, think of the common, everyday uses of the word. Engagement is a promise, whereas communication means the transmission of information. Immediately, engagement feels like something that has to actively involve two parties, while communication does not necessarily have that ‘active' element at its core.
The Macleod Report does a great job in distinguishing the difference. Engagement is ‘about how we create the conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential’ and 'based on trust, integrity, two-way commitment and communication between an organisation and its members’. So, communication is in there as one element, but what we’re really talking about is how people ‘feel’. Engagement is all about emotion.
Good comms and sharing information across a business can act as a decent platform for the rest of the engagement agenda in the same way that poor quality comms will have the opposite effect. However, a compelling engagement strategy, something that will make you money and save you money, needs a whole lot more than just a communication roll out. How people feel about you as an employer is driven by their relationship with their immediate team and line manager, their view of the leadership and the direction of the business, the value of what they do each day, recognition of their contribution, fairness, coincidence of values and more besides.
These are all things we can measure and improve over time to improve business performance - and a decent comms plan can play an important part.
Interestingly, the businesses that we’ve encountered with the worst engagement scores are often the ones with every internal comms tool known to man. They can see the engagement problem but think that they can solve it with a bright new shiny intranet, social media platform or out-of-the box comms tool. That might be the difference in a nutshell.
“We’re really struggling in the current employment market. Recruitment agency spend is out of hand and I know I need to invest in an employer brand, a careers site, an ATS and a suite of attraction tools… but I can’t afford it.”
This is an easier one. If you don’t change the model you’re working to, then you will always be a victim of the market. Your brand and your digital presence should be your number one recruitment tool and we haven’t met a client yet where we couldn’t increase the quality and decrease the cost of their recruitment - and improve retention to boot. It’s an investment not a cost and, like any investment, you set meaningful objectives, plan carefully, measure your progress and prove ROI.
What’s more, none of the list above need to be expensive in any way, which helps in achieving the ROI earlier than you thought! And, deep down, what also helps is having a clear plan in place for positive change. Being in control of your own destiny and creating a legacy of improvement has to be a better way.
“It’s the staff turnover - it’s killing us!”
Do you know how much staff turnover costs your business? Not just in terms of the cost and management time involved in replacing the leaver but the lost momentum, lost knowledge, sales hiatus, unsettling the remaining staff, onboarding, induction, training, and it goes on. Rentokil worked it out as 2.5x the leaver’s salary. It’s probably more - most surveys say it takes a minimum of 6-9 months to get the new post holder up to speed.
We have a client at DNA who know pretty much to the penny how much an experienced bartender will put in the tills on a busy shift versus a newbie… it’s more than double. It’s very impressive and means that everything we do ensures we’re hiring people who’ll both succeed, stay and will always see their next role within the business in some way, not outside of it.
In most instances, people leave thinking the grass is greener elsewhere. The reality is that the grass is greener where you water it. And that starts with a clear engagement plan (with SMART objectives) as an integral part of your people plan.