Brittany Walker

Work Smarter, Not Harder: How to Make Digital Signage Easier

Digital signage is a go-to internal communications channel, and there are plenty of reasons why. Whether your employees work in a corporate office, manufacturing plant or distribution center, digital signage gives companies of all sizes the ability to communicate consistently and interactively.

When it comes to engagement, thinking strategically and creatively will make all the difference, but it doesn’t have to be a drain on time or budget. Here are three tips to thoughtfully increase engagement through digital signage, while keeping it easy.

  1. Develop and execute an editorial calendar. Yes, it’s important to take advantage of the timeliness of communicating the latest news, but planning and creating content for evergreen messaging will keep your content fresh and engaging. Calendarizing your communications goals can help keep your messaging consistent throughout the year, driving home the ultimate goal of connecting employees’ day-to-day jobs to the vision of the company.
  2. Repurpose existing communications to drive home your message. We’re believers that all communications channels should work in concert to get the best possible reach. When the latest version of the newsletter is distributed, or an employee recognition announcement is sent out, tease it on the digital screens and drive employees to where they can learn more.
  3. Invest in a platform that makes communicating easier. There are now plenty of options available to make customizing digital signage more accessible than ever. Features range from tools as simple as setting the order and length of each slide, to more complex qualities like customized news to every location. For success in long-term engagement, be sure to select a provider with the winning combination of great technology and backend simplicity.

Interested in creating engaging content for digital signage? Tribe can help.

Steve Baskin

Engaging Financial Communications: Include Employees in the Story

Business chart with glowing arrows and world mapHow do we get employees engaged in corporate earnings announcements? The quarterly hand-wringing is loud enough to be heard outside just about every Fortune 500 company.

Short of learning if they’re more likely to get a bonus or get laid off, there’s very limited interest from the average employee without a C or VP in their job title. The language and terminology used when reporting financials to employees tends to be the same language that companies use when they’re reporting to shareholders and analysts. The trends and numbers that are reported tend to be high-level or global numbers that can be very hard for someone down in the business to understand or relate to.

Connection to the vision. Quarterly financial reporting is an opportunity to highlight progress toward company goals. If your company has a well-documented vision or business strategy, this is a great time to help employees connect the dots between the vision or strategy and financial performance.

We tend to be fans of teams. Professional baseball fans understand that their team is part of Major League Baseball, and they’re always happy to hear that the league is doing well. But they get animated about their team’s performance. Did they win last night? Will they make the playoffs? Will they finally get to the world series? Are they trading for the pitcher or batter that’s going to get them over the hump?

Companies are all about teams. Look for creative ways to bring the financial conversation down from corporate or global level to the team level. By segmenting the financial reports toward divisions or departments – smaller teams – within the organization, it becomes easier for employees to relate to the results. That can help them cheer on good news or to dig in and work harder if results were less than expected.

Connecting high-level financials to team or individual performance requires both creativity and a pretty deep understanding of company goals and departmental contributions. This doesn’t have to be an exact science. It’s simply a mindset of connecting actions and contributions of employees and team members to financial results. When you include employees in the financial conversation in more relevant ways, they’ll inevitably begin to care more deeply about the results.

Interested in connecting employee actions to financial results in your organization? Tribe can help.

Steve Baskin

Being The Best In Your Category Or Industry Is A Lot Like Being A Major League Pitcher

I’m in awe of Major League pitchers who can throw the baseball a hundred miles per hour. A few years ago, I was at an expo at a sponsorship event and stepped into a pitching cage to see how fast I could throw a ball.

Now I’m not completely un-athletic. But after lobbing the ball a few times to get warmed up, I wind up for the real thing –  forty-seven miles per hour. That couldn’t be right. So I wind up and give it everything I’ve got. Forty-six miles per hour. And now I have a newfound respect for major league hurlers.

So how does a major league pitcher make a ball fly at a hundred miles per hour and consistently hit an inches-wide target that’s ninety feet away? First, he practices pitching over and over for years and years. Then coaches and trainers meticulously hone the pitcher’s movements to ensure absolutely perfect form that won’t break down under pressure. Finally, and probably most importantly, the pitcher calls on every part of his body to participate in the process.

Sportscasters say, “that pitcher has a great arm.” But it’s not just the arm that throws the ball. Fingers have to hold onto and release the ball. The shoulder has to power the arm. The spine and hips have to generate torque to whip the arm around. The legs have to provide that forward propulsion for the movement.

The lungs can’t be seen from the stands, but if the pitcher couldn’t get air in him he wouldn’t be able to throw the ball. In fact, he’d die. The same is true with veins, arteries, blood and just about every other part of the body.

It’s a very similar story when we think about how high-performing teams deliver the brand experience at the best companies. There are front-line people delivering a service or selling the product. Typically, someone with a great pitch. But as important as they are, front-line employees are just the final connection to the customer.

Without the rest of the company, the brand experience falls completely apart. Someone invented the product or service. Someone figured out the operations requirements for building the product. Some actually worked on the assembly line or sewed on buttons. Someone made sure that the plant or office is a comfortable and safe place to work. Accounting figured out how to bill the customer so that employees could get paid and everyone would actually show up for work.

While the connection is not always obvious, everyone in the company has a role in the customer or brand experience. Everyone in the company contributes to making the product as good as it can be. Companies work at their peak when every part of the organization understands how his or her individual actions contribute to the company’s success.

Interested in communications that get every employee in the company aligned with your goals? Tribe can help.

Stephen Burns

Communicating your vision to employees

True success as a company comes when you can align your employees with your vision. When employees feel connected to the direction of your company, they become ambassadors. They better understand their role in the structure of the company, and the merits of large company shifts. 

Employees need a common goal. When everyone is engaged and working in the same direction, the company works smarter and better. Your vision is that goal, that direction, and it’s up to you to communicate it to employees and continue those communications as the company that evolves.

Here are four ways that Tribe recommends sharing your vision with your company:

1) A vision book to put a stake in the ground. Tribe has created vision books as large as a paperback novel and as small as a passport. The goal of such a publication is to clearly articulate the vision, often along with the values that support that vision. We recommend vision books at the launch of a major cultural transformation or immediately following a large-scale change, such as a major acquisition or a new CEO.

2) Leadership communications to make it relevant. Before employees can walk the walk, they need to hear their top management talk the talk. In town halls and presentations, in blogs and intranet articles, the vision can anchor executive announcements of change, progress, challenges and successes. When those in the C-suite can tie difficult decisions back to the vision, it helps increase employee confidence in the company and trust in its management.

3) Manager communications to relate the vision to day-to-day work. Although leadership communication is important to set the bar for the vision, employees will look to their direct managers to understand how the vision impacts their individual jobs. Sometimes managers need help in knowing how to communicate that. Tools like discussion guides, talking points and other communication materials can make it easier for them to work vision into the conversation.

4) A culture magazine to share progress toward that vision. If the vision book puts the stake in the ground, a digital or print culture magazine sustains the relevance of the vision. Keep vision top of mind with articles on teams that have achieved important milestones or individuals that have contributed in some significant way to the company’s ability to realize that vision. Employees appreciate reading about the roles coworkers are playing in achieving the vision, whether those coworkers are in positions like to their own, or in completely different functional silos

Brittany Walker

4 tips for keeping employees engaged in your intranet

Launching a new or updated intranet is a great start for improving internal communications. It is however just that, a start. The real challenges usually come in the following weeks, months, even years. A well thought out sustaining plan can be the key to keeping engagement high. Here are four tips to keep employees coming back to your intranet.

  1. Keep content fresh. When used properly, a successful intranet goes beyond the function of a virtual filing cabinet. Fresh, relevant content updated daily or weekly will keep employees coming back. To make every-day content creation more manageable, Tribe recommends establishing a content manager program. By empowering content managers across geography and work functions, you can build an army of ambassadors who keep news refreshed on an ongoing basis.
  1. Create a welcoming collaboration space. Breaking down silos through collaboration is a common goal, but often difficult to achieve. Providing employees with a collaboration platform in an environment where they already regularly visit is a big step towards making it easier. When choosing a collaboration tool for your organization it’s important to include employees in the discussion to really determine what tool will work best for your culture.
  1. Offer two-way communication. Leadership visibility is a frequent request of employees from all types of organizations. Providing an area on your intranet where employees can ask questions, give feedback or voice concerns to leadership is a great way to give them the outlet they need. Completing the loop of two-way communication is essential to employees feeling that their input is respected by their top executives.
  1. Provide a positive user experience. One of the easiest ways to lose engagement in your intranet is to make it difficult to use properly. If employees aren’t getting what they need in an intuitive and productive way, it’s harder to keep them coming back. When possible, Tribe recommends asking employees what attributes they would like in an intranet. Following launch, it’s also important to keep tabs on the functionality for the best possible experience.

At Tribe we like to think of the launch of an intranet as the starting line, not the finish line. Need help increasing engagement in your intranet? Tribe would love to help.

 

Brittany Walker

Three ways to get the most out of your employee survey

Employee surveys can become a source of invaluable information for your company. Obtaining honest employee feedback is an essential step to improving engagement and productivity. However, a lot of the legwork is necessary after the survey is complete. Tribe has developed a list of our top three tips to always keep in mind.

1. Slice and dice your findings. Asking demographical questions at the beginning of your survey like age, gender, tenure, work function, etc., will allow you to take your analysis to the next level. Knowing that 20 percent of your employees are unhappy with their work-life balance is good to know, but being able to pin point a specific department or office location where the problem is occurring could help solve the issue even faster.

2. Keep your word on the survey’s anonymity. If the survey was advertised to employees as anonymous, it’s important that it is treated that way. Employees are much more likely to respond candidly and honestly if they know you won’t be able to trace their answers back to them. Working with a third-party vendor like Tribe can also contribute to employees feeling more secure in their responses.

3. Deliver on your promise. One of the worst things you can do after delivering a survey is not following up. Communicating that your survey will affect change will empower your employees and managers to speak openly about their challenges and suggestions. Think of the reasons you are administering the survey and be prepared to take action on what you uncover. If nothing else, you can share the survey results with your employees.

Tribe specializes in crafting, executing and analyzing employee surveys. If you need help with your next survey, Tribe would love to help.

Employee engagement during the holidays

Large organizations sometimes see the holiday season as a distraction for their employees. From the week of Thanksgiving up until New Years, most employees are focused on the holidays and may not be quite as productive as usual.

Instead of dwelling on the pitfalls to productivity, you might consider some of the engagement opportunities that this time of year presents. Here are three tips that might help you take advantage of the holiday buzz.

  1. The holidays are a great time to connect employees across different silos. There’s more to a holiday party than meets the eye. Parties get employees communicating about something other than work. This creates a more personal connection among those employees that can have a positive effect on the organization in the future.
  1. Show employees they’re appreciated. Encourage managers enterprise-wide to cascade that appreciation. Something as simple as a handwritten note can go a long way for employee engagement. If managers aren’t inclined to do that, a shout out at a team meeting for those who’ve gone above and beyond, or even just an appreciative email or comment can make a big difference. Employees like knowing their efforts have been taken into account and appreciated.
  1. Use this time to take stock and look toward the future. Have your employees write down the top goal they accomplished that year. After they’ve decided, have them one-up that goal for the following year. This lets employees call to light something that maybe was overshadowed during the year or plan to improve on an unproductive year.

These are just a few things that you can capitalize on during the holiday season. Looking for ways to engage employees? Tribe can help!

Steve Baskin

Three Ways to Supplement Employee Engagement Surveys

Employee engagement surveys are certainly useful. The well-known annual or semi-annual employee survey continues to be the mainstay for understanding the attitudes and perceptions of a large employee base. When thoughtfully executed, the survey can unearth hard-to-find issues and unknown potential. We generally walk away from an annual survey with a wealth of knowledge about current employee engagement and perceptions of how individual roles contribute to the company’s success.

But there’s a limit to how often one should go to the well with this type of information. It takes a great deal of effort to field a strategically relevant company-wide survey, so it’s best not to plan to go to the well too often. However, with the larger survey as a base, there’s opportunity to keep relevant questions in front of employees – particularly if the questions (or mini-survey) also provide a communications loop for the employee.

And perhaps there’s a chance to have some fun with the information gathering.

Here are three ideas:

  1. Post a question and a feedback loop along with leadership communications. More than likely, the latest blog or memo from the leadership team is directly or closely related to the company’s vision. Asking questions and allowing employees to respond is a great way to get feedback to the leadership issue as well as gather information about employee attitudes.
  2. Ask employees a question or two every week. Stake out real estate on the home page of your intranet for an on-going survey. Post a new question often enough so that the idea doesn’t become stale. To keep things interesting and drive participation, make a game or contest out of the responses. After a few months, you’ll have lots of data. By staying mindful and strategic with your questions, and you’ll also be providing great value to the company.
  3. Keep it simple. Perhaps just ask employees how they feel today. Develop an easy way for employees to register their moods or attitude. How do employees feel in the morning versus the afternoon? Are there certain times of the day when happy or cranky moods pop up. If their mood is extreme (good or bad), give them an open-ended option to say what’s going on.

There are a couple of potential benefits here. First you might get a heads up when attitudes are trending positively or negatively. You also may be able to spot regional or business unit trends before they become an issue. And of course, the open-ended responses would provide background or detail if something is going particularly right or wrong.

We shouldn’t be asking questions for the sake of asking questions. If employees are going to the effort of providing feedback, they should be rewarded with a sense (or tangible proof) that they’re being listened to – that their voices matter.

Got questions about asking questions? Or what to do with the answers? TRIBE can help.

Brittany Walker

Are you instilling your internal brand throughout the entire employee cycle?

We know the work that goes into developing and executing internal brand. Determining and living by an internal brand is something to be celebrated, but for it to be truly successful and used to its fullest, we’ve found that your internal brand must be integrated throughout the employee cycle.

Don’t under-use the tools and guidelines you’ve created. Sure, it’s easy to introduce your vision and values during the onboarding process, but they should be embedded in every segment to be successful. From recruiting and hiring to performance reviews and recognition, your internal brand should touch every part of your employees’ progression within the company.

Need help getting started? Use leadership. Tribe recently attended a client’s leadership meeting where we led breakout sessions brainstorming how to introduce their internal culture into all segments of the employee cycle. Another benefit of sourcing ideas from within is that your leadership or managers will be more inclined to jump on board when they played a role in creating the initiatives.

Build ambassadors before the hiring process. From our research on hiring practices, we’ve found that 87 percent of survey respondents said that in situations where they were not hired, but has a positive experience such as a very personal or courteous treatment, they would be “likely to encourage others to apply to that company in the future.” This shows the importance of beginning the introduction of your values at the very beginning and carrying it through to the employee’s exit.