Five Things to Do (and Not Do) to Keep Busy, Burned-out Employees Engaged with Company Communications

Your employees are busy. They’re all more than likely doing the work of two to three people since their recent company organizational change came with a hiring freeze or a “no backfill” policy in order to reduce expenses and, unfortunately, people by attrition. So as employees are overworked, burned out and busy, how do you get and keep their attention through company communications?

Here are five key dos and don’ts to follow when communicating internally with your employees through channels like email, newsletters and other tactics. Putting these things into action can really help create positive cultural change (provided your company is open to cultural change – if not, maybe it’s time for a career change instead.)

1. DON’T write emotionless content.

Stop already with the formal, emotionless voice. That is so 9 to 5. (For those who don’t get that reference, please substitute “1980.”)

Just like your customers, your employees are humans and they want to be talked to like real people. People don’t respond to robotic, scripted messaging anymore. But did they ever?

If employees feel the company can relate to them, they’ll be more engaged and feel a stronger sense of connection at work (which we all desire). This can lead to increased loyalty from your employees.

2. DO be transparent.

Most people can tell when all the information isn’t being shared, so cough it up!

There are some things that employees don’t need to know, but when it comes to something that affects their jobs or the company, don’t keep that tight to your chest. Rumors will spread like wildfire if you don’t get ahead of things and control the message. Believe me, I’ve heard them.

Leadership should aim to be transparent and honest, and welcome employee honesty and questions — even if they’re tough. This will invite trust and produce improved employee loyalty in return.

3. DON’T ignore input from employees.

Communications should be interactive and invite conversation. Otherwise you’re just talking AT your employees, not engaging WITH them.

Have you ever asked your employees what they want to hear? What about HOW they want to hear it?

Invite your associates to focus groups and get them involved to help transform company communications. Invite associates to write for the company blog and feature it every week/biweekly/monthly. Topics can range from information about their specific work, their community involvement or their experience as an associate.

Of course all content should be high-quality, which means it should go through your traditional editorial process. And, equally important, each piece of content should be monitored and approved before going live on your site.

4. DO be concise.

If you’re writing multiple paragraphs (or worse, hosting unnecessary meetings) about something that can be summed up in a few sentences, or not really ever getting to the point, start doing it. Your employees don’t have time to read a book about something they barely care about or may not even impact them.

Don’t forget though that being concise doesn’t mean being boring or formal. Refer back to #1 and #5 below.

5. DO use humor and be creative.

Think about the commercials and ads you like, or even how you talk to your best friends. Most likely these types of communications have one thing in common — humor. They get your attention and earn your friendship, trust and business, by making you laugh.

Work is hard; we spend a lot of our lives in corporate boxes with high stress, so why not try and reduce the stress for your employees and make it a little more fun? I promise, engagement and loyalty will improve. If it doesn’t, well, you might just have really horrible employees.

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Lauri Tucker

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