Conversations not broadcasts: A two-way street to effective employee communication

Last month, I had the pleasure of going along to the annual Employee Engagement Summit in London. Hosted in the depths of The Brewery in London, it was a dynamic event that captured innovative ideas shaping our post-pandemic hybrid workplaces and accommodated discussion related to the importance of employee engagement.

employee communication

The event boasted an impressive lineup of industry experts, including sports pundit and former Lioness Jill Scott, who opened the event by sharing her thoughts on what makes an effective leader and how to motivate and engage a team. “It’s not the splash you remember, it’s the dive” was her key phrase that set the tone for the day, as we delved into the various journeys that brands had been on to increase their employee engagement whilst considering work-life balance, retention, diversity and inclusion, and the complex role of AI.

While all of these sessions were filled with valuable insights, what really piqued my interest were the discussions about the evolving landscape of internal corporate communications.

Think back 15 years ago: How did your organisation keep its employees informed?

Inboxes were filled with emails upon emails of company updates, telling employees about new hires, end of year sales figures, monthly priorities, environmental initiatives, job vacancies, charity fundraisers, and the list goes on and on.

Email was the primary way that employees were kept informed.

Since then, organisations have evolved their interactions with employees from static intranets to interactive online hubs, from email to video, from in person town hall presentations to hybrid webinars. We saw a boom in companies livestreaming during the pandemic. It was their way to reach employees when physically doing so wasn’t possible.

But, the question remains on why companies have to continue evolving these channels of communication from monologues to a dialogues – from broadcasts to a conversations.

Our team of experienced content and media experts have been helping to do exactly that. Instead of a senior leadership team giving a one-way update, we’re now producing interactive content that allows employees to connect with one another and the company too.

A similar trend can be seen with corporate podcasts, another tool of engagement. Podcasting has been steadily shifting from a one-way static audio format to a two-way visual conversation with the possibility of recording it live.

That involvement can boost morale, foster a sense of community, and increase engagement. In fact, employees who feel their voice is being heard are 4.6 times more likely to do their best work than those who don’t.

What’s more, companies with high levels of employee engagement, achieved through open and interactive communications, see 87% less employee turnover too, boosting productivity and reducing costs associated with recruitment.

At the event, during her session, the Global Head of Internal Communications at Keyloop, extolled the virtues of adopting this interactive method of corporate communications.

One such virtue was breaking down an often-occurring “us” and “them” power dynamic in the workplace, removing the sometimes tense barrier between employees and senior leadership to create a simple sense of togetherness through openness and honesty.

That’s when she pulled the metaphorical rabbit from the hat and revealed that she had, in fact, been livestreaming her talk to employees at Keyloop the entire time, cementing the point around transparency, honesty, and authenticity.

Some senior leaders will still – despite the many benefits – be apprehensive to adopt a more interactive method of delivering corporate communications. After all, if the stream is live, employees could ask difficult questions. As the popular saying goes: “Anything can happen on live TV.”

Partially proving that point, in 2020 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosted a live Q&A with employees, one of whom asked a question about the company’s handling of hate speech on the platform, specifically calling out a recent decision not to remove a controversial post by a politician.

The situation could have been embarrassing. Instead, it provided an opportunity for the platform’s senior leadership team to reiterate their commitment to removing hate speech and learn what the priorities of their staff were.

Many would argue that Facebook’s leadership appeared open and honest, more human than if they had shied away from the scrutiny.

Gone should be the days of having a pre-prepared statement or hiding behind a mass email. As methods of two-way communications are developing – such as interactive live streams and video podcasts – organisations can promote trustworthiness and appear more human by treating employees like customers who have a genuine desire to stay informed and form a genuine bond with the brand.

In our hybrid working world which is constantly evolving – where AI and questionable information are growing in prominence – I think the movement towards more of a two-way dialogue is refreshing.

Words: Sarah Cann