How to engage employees in the workplace using modern communication technology
According to Gallup’s latest State of the American Workplace Report, published in 2017, fewer than 35% of employees in America feel engaged at work. Other research by Gallup shows that up to 70% of the variance in team engagement can be attributed to the manager’s influence, and that disengaged employees cost American companies around $500 billion in lost productivity each year.
So, what is it that managers can improve to increase employee engagement? In a 2016 ATD study, we learn that 83% of respondents cited communication skills as the most important skill for success as a manager. It follows that effective communication is integral when considering how to engage employees in the workplace.
How do you communicate effectively in the 21st century?
Poor communication skills can damage employee morale and crush employee engagement. A lack of transparency and clarity, excessive negativity, inconsistency of approach, and constantly providing poor feedback are common ways in which poor communication skills manifest themselves in the modern manager. However, it is not only the style in which managers communicate that can disengage employees, but also the method used to communicate.
Methods to communicate and engage employees more effectively
There are numerous ways in which a manager can improve the effectiveness of his or her communications, taking into account the recipient’s preferred communication channel and the need to communicate at speed in today’s modern workplace. There is no longer a need to wait until you are in the office to send or request vital information, and face-to-face meetings can now be conducted remotely. Communication tools that 21st century managers use include:
· The telephone
A mode of communication for more than a century, the telephone is now the preferred communication tool for many people (especially millennials). Today, of course, the telephone is not limited to voice contact. Smartphones can be used to place Skype calls, conduct conference calls, video calls, send social media posts, SMS, MMS, etc. It is the most versatile tool in the manager’s communication toolbox.
· Desktop/laptop/tablet computers
As with cell phones, there are many communication methods available to users of computers. These include all of the methods available to cell phone users, as well as internal email and intranet systems.
· The written word
Though email and many of the other forms of communication are based upon the written word, a manager should not discount other written formats. Effective communication can be made by methods such as the article you are reading now, whitepapers, brochures, books and eBooks, newsletters, and so on. When presenting, whiteboards, flipcharts, and PowerPoint presentations can help to get across messages with more clarity.
It is easy to make videos today. They can be recorded on a smartphone or webcam, sent by email, posted to social media, or uploaded to websites. With greater numbers of people preferring to communicate visually, many managers are now choosing to communicate important messages via video.
The benefits of using 21st century technology to communicate
By using modern tools to communicate, and adapting communication methods to suit the target audience, managers can access many benefits. These include:
- Providing the same information simultaneously to many people, regardless of geography
- Clarity of message, with no misinterpretation during relay of message
- Many types of message can be disseminated (voice, video, email, etc.)
- Communication can be made in real time
- Written materials can be sent more easily and at greater speed (e.g. by attaching as PDFs to emails)
- Team meetings can be held by video conferencing, irrespective of location of participants, with less obstruction to the day-to-day needs of the business
Managing time by using technology to communicate
Managers and teams who use technology to its best advantage are likely to perform better and produce more timely results. Take the example of a salesperson in an important meeting with a client. Using a smartphone, laptop, or tablet, the salesperson can:
- Upload specs from the client to send to a design team
- Download specific brochures and supporting documents as they are needed during presentations
- Annotate documents
- Take photos to provide evidence of requirements
- Schedule follow-up meetings in other people’s diaries
- Capture client response and email to the customer service desk
- Instant message account managers for updates on delivery progress
- Source any other information needed as it is needed
Technology used to aid communication is a strategy that should embraced as an employee engagement tool. It reduces time used to communicate important information, aids in sales and client meetings, reduces disruption, improves understanding, and enables diverse and remote teams to work more effectively.
By ensuring that your managers and their teams employ technology to its best effect, your organisation should access many benefits – including increased employee engagement and improved productivity.
Contact us today, and discover how we could help your managers and their teams to improve their communication ability and use the full potential of 21st century technology in thei9r communications strategies.