Have you heard the word “jobpocalypse?” It’s how some experts are now describing the war for talent, the Great Resignation… all the employee retention-related challenges facing many businesses right now. But, when we first read that new term, it really struck us. The name alone implies the dire – and enduring – situation many businesses find themselves in right now. They’re looking for new ways to tackle the ongoing issue of attracting and keeping talent, because it clearly isn’t going away anytime soon.
While Tschida Communications works across a myriad of industries, we’ve recently seen an uptick in communication needs from the manufacturing industry, specifically around internal communication. These companies are wisely recognizing the need to engage and communicate with their employees like never before to combat the effects the “jobpocalypse” is having on their businesses. (Note: While most manufacturing organizations have had some form of internal communications over the years, it’s often been HR-driven. This is about taking a broader, more strategic approach to the content shared with employees, and the ways that content should be delivered.)
In this 3-part series, we’ve shared observations and best practices that other manufacturing companies can use to communicate with their notoriously hard-to-reach front-line employees, based on our work with organizations in that industry.
In part 1, we shared the specific reasons that trigger many manufacturers to consider professionalizing their internal communications. In part 2, we shared how to get feedback from employees and leaders on what they want to know and how they want to receive information. In part 3 below, we’ll explain how to create a communications roadmap that balances quick wins with longer-term investments in new channels and content that truly engages your teams.
Now that you’ve taken the time to hear from employees and leaders throughout the company about how the formal and informal channels of communication are working, and you’ve gotten honest feedback about the culture, it’s time to take action!
Start by prioritizing what you heard. Which changes are quick, easy, and/or inexpensive to make? Plan to tackle those quick wins first to demonstrate that you took the feedback you collected seriously and are taking action on it. In our experience, activities in this category often involve increasing the visibility of the CEO and other key executives amongst front-line staff. This can be as simple as blocking leaders’ time to “walk the floor” and informally connect with employees more frequently. Other common quick wins include implementing rules of engagement for email to reduce irrelevant information; committing to more frequent updates of front-line facing communications like bulletin boards and breakroom flyers; and adjusting recurring “stand up” meetings to make them more efficient and effective.
Once you’ve identified the quick wins and have prioritized them on your communications roadmap, look at the medium-sized initiatives that could be address employee feedback. When it comes to executive visibility, you might take it a step further by implementing a scheduled “coffee break” meeting with the CEO and employees to provide dedicated time and space to hear what’s really on employees’ minds. To strengthen middle managers’ roles as leaders and communicators, maybe recurring meetings need to be completely revamped or established when they haven’t existed before, or you can create new tools and content to aid them in contextualizing company information for their specific department or team.
Finally, you’ll likely identify some longer-term, larger communications initiatives to consider. These vary considerably depending on the company and the internal dynamics involved, but can include any of the following:
Whether to establish a company intranet site to make internal content easier to consume and curate all employee tools and resources into one, easy-to- access place. Intranets are a great way to make employees’ jobs easier and more efficient by providing everything they need at their fingertips. They’re also a great way to convey key information without relying on email, which many employees struggle to manage – not to mention the fact that many manufacturing employees don’t even have company email addresses
Whether to start creating articles and stories that bring key topics like culture and desired behaviors to life for employees. (These are often served up on the intranet; much like a daily news site shares breaking news, the intranet shares the most important company news and information each day.) Company articles help to show, not just tell, employees what “good” looks like, and increase engagement by recognizing employees and enabling employees to engage with each other on key topics by liking and commenting on content.
Whether to implement an employee engagement survey to keep a regular pulse on how employees feel about working at your organization. While these surveys have historically been conducted annually, more and more organizations are moving to a “pulse” approach, where employees are frequently being asked for their feedback so leadership can monitor and respond to trends as needed.
Each of these are largest investments and should be guided with the support of internal communications experts who’ve led and managed those efforts at other organizations. They can help you avoid the pitfalls that often come with communication projects of this size and ensure each of these efforts is set up and managed to best inform and engage your employees, middle managers and leaders.
If you’re ready to get started communicating more intentionally with your manufacturing employees, get in touch! We’d love to guide you through the process we’ve developed with our other industry clients and get you on your way to engaging and retaining your employees!