Since the global COVID pandemic struck, organizations have had to reconfigure processes. These processes allow employees to communicate effectively when not in the same room. Now, as the world slowly transitions back to in-office environments, even if part-time, optimized internal communications tools and policies are required to keep employees productive and in sync.
As a result, organizations need to rethink strategies and adapt technologies. Strategies and technologies that allow their employees to remain connected, interactive, and productive wherever they are.
Why? Consider this: according to an Offsyte report on workplace culture, 60% of employees want their employer to do more to encourage team collaboration. Furthermore, 63% would like their employer to take steps to promote team collaboration across the entire company. Unfortunately, companies aren’t there yet. When asked if they feel disconnected from their colleagues, 40% of remote employees agreed. This is followed by 39% of on-site employees and 38% of hybrid employees.
Communication, collaboration, and efficiency have never been more critical for thriving companies. To enable them, here are four reasons organizations should rethink their internal communications strategy.
1. Employees are still dispersed, and managers need help.
With remote and hybrid work continuing for most companies, employees need fast and reliable communication and collaboration methods. With team dispersion comes the risk of disconnection. So, managers, for their part, need technology and processes that support them in connecting with, leading, and motivating both remote and in-office workers.
It’s clear that managers are the locus of the connection employees seek. Gartner recently reported that 60% of hybrid employees say it’s their direct manager who most directly links them to the company’s culture.
In order to strengthen such connections, managers can use tech tools like instant messaging platforms and best practices like biweekly one-on-ones to keep all their team members in the loop. IM platforms help employees get quick answers to questions. Plus, they. help build camaraderie by sharing movie recs, birthday wishes, and chuckle-worthy memes. When individuals feel connected to their manager and fellow employees, team motivation increases and collaboration can thrive.
2. Employees are overwhelmed with video meetings, making them less productive and more stressed.
During the pandemic, platforms like Zoom and Webex Meetings became easy ways for companies to keep employees working together from afar. But as video meetings quickly invaded other aspects of people’s lives — not just at work but with family, friends, and even dates — so-called Zoom fatigue took over. And it’s not getting any better.
Today many companies are scheduling more meetings than ever, taking advantage of the fact that employees are already “present.” In other words, they don’t need time to move from one session to the next. But the science-backed reality is that stress levels increase as back-to-back meetings do. Fostering collaboration within hybrid teams requires other tactics besides scheduling yet another videoconference.
Implementing a robust project management tool is one helpful approach. In-built discussion boards allow team members to confer on project deliverables and timelines. Additionally, keep track of task and project status. Best of all, they don’t have to be on camera to do so!
3. New collaborative tech brings new security concerns.
While cloud-based instant messaging platforms, project management tools, and other digital aids can be key weapons in any team’s collaboration arsenal, no new technology is without risks. Topping the list is data security. Therefore, any instant messaging app or collaborative communication platform that powers today’s dispersed workforces must be designed with a security-first mentality.
This is especially true for highly-regulated industries such as financial services, healthcare, and insurance. Businesses in these industries are now grappling with new challenges presented by artificial intelligence tools. Plus, they battle data security threats and regulatory fines related to instant messaging practices.
Rather than trying to retrofit conventional messaging platforms with compliance-worthy security features, these organizations are much better off adopting an instant messaging platform that has been developed specifically for regulated industries. The best example for this would be SayHey Messenger®, which prioritizes data sovereignty, allowing businesses to own their data in order to properly document and track correspondence made within the platform. Their platform is also different from industry giants like Slack or Teams. It allows admins to control the platform’s branding to reflect their image.
Financial institutions and other highly-regulated industries have been faced with major fines over the last couple of years due to data security practices, which urges businesses to ensure full and complete regulatory compliance within their communication platforms.
4. Employee engagement is waning — and that’s costly.
It’s hard for teams to collaborate effectively when their members have checked out. In fact, Gallup reports that disengaged employees cause organizations worldwide significant losses in productivity, to the tune of $7.8 trillion a year.
The world has not returned to pre-pandemic engagement rates, which had been rising but are now flat. That’s understandable given that companies and their employees no longer work like they used to. Employees’ needs and priorities have changed, and organizations must change with them to motivate and retain their workforces.
Engagement platforms like Limeade Listening (formerly TINYpulse) can provide employers with helpful feedback tools, but engagement starts from within. To assist in improving employee engagement, employers can use performance review phrases, such as those provided by Eletive, a platform that offers a comprehensive list of performance review phrases. By using these phrases, employers can communicate their expectations to employees and provide them with feedback to improve their work. Employers must recognize the evolving way employees want to communicate and adopt technologies and practices that support their preferences. By establishing clear priorities, fostering relationships, and investing in their employees, companies can drive motivation, productivity, and loyalty, while increasing retention rates.
As the modern workplace evolves and employees’ priorities shift, so must employers’. Understanding how your team wants to work and structuring internal communications to facilitate that is as vital as guiding them on what work to do and what technologies to use. When internal communications strategies reflect the needs of employers and employees, both can successfully grow and adapt together.