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Employee engagement has been getting more attention from executives, especially as more practitioners worry about the shift in workforce mentality and what employees expect from their organizations. Jimmy Lin shares three vital building blocks to engage (and retain) employees. 

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Three Steps to Build Measurable Employee Engagement

Employee engagement has been getting more attention from executives, especially as more practitioners worry about the shift in workforce mentality and what employees expect from their organizations. As studies from Gallup1 and Harvard Business Review2 have shown, executives rank employee engagement near the top of priorities that will make an impact in sustaining growth. So how can we build employee engagement and measure success? Let’s first take a closer look at the root problem.
There has been a fundamental shift in the way we communicate; more specifically, how we consume information. Digital trends challenge traditional communication paths in an organization, and the internal communication puzzle has increased in complexity. 
● More distributed workforces create both physical and digital divides in communications 
● Matrixed organizations make communication paths more complex with higher probabilities of communication gaps
● Modern day information consumption habits are not aligned with old school corporate communications
In Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017 report1, only 13 percent of employees strongly believe leaders communicate effectively with the rest of the organization, while 70 percent of employees are NOT engaged at work. How are leaders expected to align the organization on key objectives, deliver product announcements or tackle guest experience issues without effective communications and an engaged workforce? 
One approach is to take a modern day marketer’s approach to your internal communications. A VP of Marketing once said to me, “You have big ‘M’ marketing and little ‘m’ marketing. We all wear the little ‘m’ no matter your role.” What he meant was that we should think about marketing not just in the context of externally marketing our brand, but internal marketing as well.
So let’s look at three key tactics to applying “little m” mentality to engaging your teams:
1. Know Your Audience
You KNOW your internal audience. You know exactly what roles they play, where they are located, whether they work in an office, who their manager is and what department they work in. You already possess a gold mine of information that allows you to intimately understand your audience so you can effectively identify audience segments.
Understanding those that need information is more than half the battle. Team members often ask, “Why are they sending this to me? Why should I care?” Take the time to dissect your communications strategy. Identify who needs to know what, at what time, and from whom? We should be targeted in our approach rather than aim for broad strokes for coverage and that starts with a fundamental understanding of your audience.
2. Relevant Content, Just In Time
Content is king. But more importantly, it has to be relevant and timely content. Social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn have driven a fundamental shift in the way we consume content and our expectations on how we interact with that content. Internal communications need to be treated in the same way. 
How many team members read that two-page company newsletter or the poster on the wall? How do you communicate quickly with front line teams who are busy focusing on delivering a great guest experience? Deliver content in short segments based on the audience segments. Don’t worry about getting a long message out once a month. Some effective approaches are:
● Aim for smaller interactions, much more often, to build the message over time. 
● Use engaging media, like short, ad-hoc videos.
● Deploy quick one-question polls to solicit feedback from your teams. 
These tactics keep your team members engaged while giving them the opportunity to fully consume critical information.
3. Measure (both engagement and knowledge)
Measure internal communications? Yes, that’s exactly what we should be thinking about. We pepper our teams with all sorts of communications, but never really know how effective our efforts are. Posters in the breakroom. Email announcements. Updates to knowledge articles on Intranet pages. These efforts are often wasted in our attempt to reach our teams.
Like good marketing efforts, we should continuously measure engagement and adjust our approach to maximize bottom line impact of that engagement. What do my teams know and NOT know? Which team members are truly engaged? Gallup’s analysis has consistently shown that organizations with more engaged teams perform better. Lower turnover, increased knowledge retention and happier team members all result in improved guest experiences, brand resilience and safer workplaces. These factors directly impact the bottom line.
It is more important than ever in today’s organizations to effectively communicate the sense of purpose throughout the organization, at all levels of the team. When you apply this framework of analyzing the internal audience, identifying relevant and timely content and measuring engagement and knowledge, you really start breaking down communication barriers between leaders and the front line. And build measurable employee engagement. 

1 Gallup’s State of the American Workplace 2017 report
2 Harvard Business Review’s The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance

About The Author
Jimmy Lin

Jimmy Lin, CEO of Blast, has over 20 years of experience building effective solutions for compliance, risk and supply chain to engage internal teams in mission critical processes. Prior to Blast, he helped Fortune 500 clients build more effective ethics and compliance programs through Codes of Conduct, policy management and compliance training initiatives. Jimmy is passionate about improving the way we engage with our internal audience to affect organizational performance. Learn more about Jimmy and Blast at: www.linkedin.com/in/jimmylin1 and http://blastapp.io.  

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