New Year: Digital trends for 2018

New Year, new challenges

The New Year is upon us and with the start of 2018, come new trends that will revolutionise how we engage with employees, reach out to customers and expand online visibility.

Through cloud technology, artificial intelligence and responsive channels, technology has already affected how companies utilise digital devices to communicate with internal and external audiences.

As we embrace the New Year, we look at what trends are set to further change your communications channels and how to prepare your workforce for the takeover.

Read about the top three digital trends:

Chatbots

Chatbots are virtual assistants animated by artificial intelligence intended to deliver real-time answers to customers. Global tech business, Oracle, found that 80% of brands expect to use them for customer interaction by 2020.  One such system which combines AI technology with data is IBM Watson.  A supercomputer with combined data storage of over 200 million pages of information processed against six million logic rules, the software can analyse the relevant information and make recommendations in real time.

In action: Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance in Japan replaced 30 employees with the AI system, believing it would increase productivity by 30% and see a return on its investment in less than two years.

Mass personalisation

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Mass personalisation is the act of creating campaigns or websites targeted to specific audience’s history.  It enables recipients to focus on what’s relevant to them at the time it matters.  For organisations, it allows them to micro-target individuals or groups; giving them relevant information that affects their specific role as and when needed.

In action: Last year Virgin Group introduced the next generation in engagement software.  Virgin Pulse Hub, a dynamic engagement and communication portal connects employees with relevant HR and benefits tools, programs and information.  It enables administrators to segment messages across a variety of factors, including age, location and health risk factors; delivering them in ways that resonate with employee populations.

Remote workforces

Remote workforces are when employees work outside the ‘traditional’ office environment.  With over 96 million workers using mobile devices to do their jobs, companies are fast discovering the overall benefits of employing staff remotely.

In action: Buffer, a social media schedule platform company has more than 80 employees working in several different countries.  ‘Courtney Seiter, Buffer’s Inclusivity Catalyst, shares that instead of having a hybrid remote and on-site environment, Buffer “does everything 100% remote first to create that feeling of inclusivity and equality across the board.”’

How to prepare your office for 2018

As we begin the new year, preparation can ensure a stress-free agenda.  Develop a plan for 2018 by encompassing tactics which can help improve and strengthen key elements of the business.  Utilise the five key areas when developing your strategy for the coming year, helping provide practical solutions in a short space of time:

Employer brand review

A great employer brand is one that both customers and staff will want to be a part of.  Review how it is currently perceived and how it can be improved forecasting key milestones to improve your employer brand.  Think about the attractiveness of the company, the core message and culture you have built.

Challenge preparation

Consider factors which may affect your business, staff and your customers.  Think about the up and coming digital trends; would they improve efficiency, increase online visibility or reduce costs? Use this time to research key events which may affect audiences such as GDPR or Brexit, helping address potential risks to your business.

Identify new opportunities

Use the New Year to explore new marketing tactics, thinking about mass personalisation, social channels and networking events. Consider new products or services or even reinventing how you package them up. Encourage staff to feed ideas for economic growth and provide incentives for internal contributions.

Financial downtime

Carry out a financial review of current costs and identify if you’re getting value for money or if costs could be better used elsewhere.  Do you have a bonus scheme in place for employees?  Assess how best to deliver these and what the bonuses are measured on including performance, sales or time of servitude.

Review and prepare a comms plan

A comms audit can help identify which channels work; identify common weaknesses and measure the overall effectiveness.  Assess who you are communicating with, internally and externally, how you could improve the comms channel and the best medium to adapt to deliver key messages.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on strategy preparation and internal communication, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Creating a risk management strategy

Risk Management Strategy

Risk management has become a critical element within most companies.  Every business faces risk. But by identifying the risks and assessing the likelihood and impact of those risks can help companies make cost-effective decisions as to the response they need to take.

This is the case for risks that have positive or negative effects on a company.  By managing the type of risks that could have the most impact can help streamline processes, organise response rates and facilitate the reactive action accordingly.

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Risk management preparation has a significant effect on the reputation of the company. By integrating a risk management strategy that weighs against the probability of it happening against the impact it could have on the company could help save companies time, costs and resources.

Below are examples of how global enterprises have succeeded or failed in risk preparation:

Central Bank: In February 2016, hackers capitalised on security weaknesses at Bangladesh’s Central Bank and used Dridex malware to hack into the Swift financial communications network stealing $101 million from accounts belonging to the central bank.  Miscommunication between the bank and its headquarters, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, at the time of the hack resulted in the disappearance of most of the money.  Clunky payment processes further contributed to the disaster.

The failure of the Bangladeshi government to build adequate safeguards for its financial system became the starting point for a global, multi-million money laundering scheme. The effect of this was felt beyond the country’s borders.

Tesco Bank: In the following November £2.5 million was stolen from 9,000 Tesco Bank customers’ accounts following a data breach.  Tesco bank was quick to apologise, refund customers and provide reassurance that personal data was not compromised in the attack.  Customers were notified of the breach by email and text messages; and kept updated via the Bank’s website and Twitter page.

Aetna: In July 2017, American managed health care company Aetna exposed the HIV statuses of 12,000 patients by dispatching letters in open window envelopes to their healthcare provider.  Immediately providers took to social media showing their support for their customers and their anger at their supplier.  Aetna subsequently advised they were considering introducing additional safeguards to prevent further incidents.

Prepare for all risks

Simultaneously, effective risk management preparation can help respond to positive risks in companies; such as an increased demand for a new product or service, introduction of new software, technology or website volume etc.  By preparing for ‘opportunities’ as well as ‘uncertainties’ you can affect relationships with customers and your position in the industry.

5 steps to a successful risk management strategy

As the need increases to develop risk management strategies which identify, assess and prepare for positive or negative impacting risks, integrating an effective risk management strategy is stronger than ever.  Fundamentally, there are three main factors to consider:

  1. the risk culture (who is directly and indirectly involved because of a risk);
  2. engagement of your team (communicating and developing an understanding of the processes involved);
  3. how you monitor and review the risks identified.

There is no all-encompassing risk management strategy. However, risk assessments and preparation processes can help to manage and deliver effective responses to positive or negative impacting risks.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how we can help create a risk management strategy, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

 

What is outcome-based measurement?

Defining outcome-based measurement

Outcome-based measurement is a collection of results which assess a specific topic or area in a business.  Fundamentally, it assesses the productivity of the business and highlights areas for improvement.

An outcome-based measurement for employee engagement would (ideally) show that employees are doing the things that will add value to the business.  These could be achieved through employee engagement surveys, regular pulse surveys, focus groups or analysis platforms.  Sam Dawson, Head of Insight at Korn Ferry Hay Group advises the importance of this data:

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Measuring employee engagement

The importance of outcome-based measurement analysis not only underpins how employees are performing but accentuates the functionality and success of the business.  It generates data which can help improve and expand a business and provides insight into weaker areas of the workplace.

Challenges faced

There are two mains challenges most companies face when looking to measure engagement across their workforces.  These include:

Unmeasurable feedback

Often, companies generate questions which are stale and generic enticing feedback which is unmeasurable and unresponsive.  Equally, questions which are negatively focused can provide more defensive answers rather than providing the opportunity for transparency.  As a result, the data becomes insubstantial to the overall objective.

Unresponsive feedback

Many companies submit an annual employee survey but fail to follow up with the data; making the exercise void and time-consuming.  Without motivation or incentive for being ‘heard’, employees feel despondent from providing honest feedback that does not have a tangible outcome.

Achieving outcome-based measurement

Achieving sustainable employee feedback is a consequential action of a well-developed strategy.  Recognising who the audience is, defining the objectives of the exercise and determining how to achieve the most optimised results can create more diverse and quantifiable data.  The perfect platform for outcome-based measurement analysis.

One example of effective and measurable data is UK-based home improvement chain, Screwfix, who encourages employee feedback on a regular basis through their open-door policy. Every two weeks, employees are given the opportunity to provide feedback to their managers unrestricted by rules or guidelines. They are encouraged to give feedback on everything from daily job concerns to management; company interactivity with customers and ideas for improvement.

Consequently, the two-way interactivity between employees and managers resulted in a new customer card being implemented.  This helped speed up the in-store process by identifying customers and allowing them to make quicker purchases – a result of valuable employee feedback.

Outcome-based measurement is not about ticking boxes or fulfilling an annual quota. It provides opportunity to feedback, improve and expand a business tangibly and effectively.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how we can help achieve sustainable outcome-based measurement analysis, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

 

Internal communications value as told by CIPR Inside

Value of internal communications

Internal communications group of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations: CIPR Inside recently submitted their latest report on the value of internal communication as perceived by CEO’s and IC professionals.  Focusing on the perceived value and interactivity of internal communication with senior leadership teams, the paper offered insight and exploration over a much-discussed topic.

Defining terminologies

The report identified that ‘when defining internal communication, many of the IC practitioners …surveyed used the terms ‘internal communication’ and ‘employee engagement’ interchangeably’.

But what is the value of internal communication and employee engagement, how is it viewed in the industry and is there a defining difference?

Internal communication

Internal communications has long been defined as the functionality responsible for effective communications between internal staff members within an organisation.  The CIPR report states that CEO’s saw IC practitioners as ‘custodians of translating strategy, company values and priorities’.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is an emotional commitment between an employer and their employees; creating an environment that is engaging and retrospective to the culture they are trying to achieve.

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Although interconnected through their primary focal point – employees – both are equally different through their purpose and delivery.  Where one focuses on how and what to communicate internally, the other looks at the why and who; defining the context and environment of delivering the communication and to whom.

In VMA Group’s Inside Insight 2017 report, 92% of senior leadership either understand, are on board with or appreciate the importance of internal communication but incredibly, only 8% of British employees feel engaged at work.

All CEOs interviewed for the latest CIPR report expressed concern around not communicating key messages and purpose to employees. They believed that if employees did not understand the priorities and the organisational direction, their motivation and effectiveness was less lower!

Can we build a unifying relationship?

Internal communications provides the strategic knowhow and the channels to deliver key yet effective messages within an organisation.  However, it is the foundation of employee engagement which positions the reason behind those messages. And it provides the background of who they are projected at.

Can they work in parallel of each other – absolutely!  Both accentuate the employee voice;  both are platforms to strengthen and improve the communication and culture of an organisation.  The synergy of internal communications and employee engagement has the power to influence and change the culture of an organisation!

It is the role of senior leaders to identify the capacity of both functionalities.  Treating them retrospectively as separate functions provides a more encompassing and powerful method to communicate and engage with staff.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how we can help communicate internally and engage audiences, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Change Management: strategic direction and implementation

Why you need a change management strategy

Developing a change management strategy can provide direction and purpose for change management plans. They help determine fundamental processes for significant changes within the workforce.

However, key events or processes can affect how they are developed and integrated for the strategy to be successful. From mergers and acquisitions, intranet systems to relocations, product launches to leadership changes; ultimately, change management strategies need to reflect the cause that can create the biggest disruption to a company.

Qtel’s change management through M&A

In 2005, Qatar, the world’s richest economy, per capita, faced one of the most ambitious acquisition sprees in acquisition history. Its state-owned telecom company Qtel went on an acquisition spree and by 2012, Qtel owned 17 telecoms operators in the Muslim world and had become the world’s fastest growing telecoms operator by revenue.

In 2012, Qtel shifted its strategy away from growth through acquisition towards growth through integration. The Chairman and CEO merged their diverse telecoms brands into one mega-brand, Ooredoo. Their objective: to provide transformational change in the telecoms sector. They realigned their strategy and purpose for change:

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They wanted to offer the Muslim world greater freedom of communication and choice; and they wanted to help rural communities and women, gain a voice. They wanted to change their world for the better.

In February 2013, they launched a new global brand Ooredoo from a standing start in a matter of weeks in Qatar, with the iconic footballer Lionel Messi introduced by the Chairman as the global brand ambassador. It was a stunning success, gaining market share within weeks. With a customer base of more than 95 million people in 17 countries, Ooredoo rapidly became a leading international brand.

Successful change management techniques

For a change management strategy to be successful, it must include the unique characteristics of the change, an action plan for implementing the strategy and highlight any potential risks which could emerge from the change.

Some of the questions you may need to answer when developing a change management plan include:

  • How big is the change?
  • Who will it affect and how many people will it affect?
  • What are you changing and what are the proposed timeframes?
  • How did you implement change previously?
  • How will you communicate the change?
  • What are the potential risks of the change and how can you manage those risks?

Implementing a big change within a company can have dire consequences on the company if not communicated efficiently and coherently. Below are key areas to focus on that can fundamentally shape and deliver your change management strategy:

Purpose of change

Outline why change is necessary and the impact it can have on the whole company. Consider what the change is, the purpose of the change and identifying the pros and cons of the change. This will create key objectives for the change which can then be fed into the overall change management strategy.

Historical approaches

This is a great opportunity to find out how the company has managed change in the past; looking at strengths and weaknesses of the delivery and how it can be improved in this latest change.  Don’t forget to consider your audience and the communication channels through which you’ll share the change in all aspects of the strategic plans.

Audience impact

The focus for all change management strategies is how to deliver the plan to the required audiences. Consider who the change will affect and how you can communicate the change to them, their peers and their leaders to ensure a smooth execution of the change.  The key is to integrate honesty and transparency through all communication platforms every step of the way.

Support team

Ascertaining a change management team will help determine who can deliver the change; who will support the deliverer and who has overarching responsibility for implementing change. Assign specific roles to team members in order to give your change management plan a clear focus and directive.

Once you have defined your change management team, the objectives of the change and techniques which could be used to implement change; you are almost ready to formulate a strategic focused plan.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how to develop and integrate a successful change management plan, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Culture change: the role of HR

Why you need HR to drive culture change

Culture is significantly affecting how companies operate internally and externally, how they innovate and service their customers. According to Deloitte’s latest report issued at the end of last year, “82 percent of global CEO’s and HR leaders believe that culture has a potential competitive advantage, with only 19 percent believing they have the right culture.”

Unfortunately, many companies face the challenge of how to measure, monitor and manage culture change. Equally important, they do not understand ‘who’ should be interjecting those changes within the workforce.

So, who is responsible for culture change and what significance can it have on a company?

Driving culture change in the workplace

Positive implementation of culture change is the responsibility of senior leaders and the collaboration of HR departments. Senior leaders set the tone for culture through every plan, decision and action executed. They become the drivers for policies, procedures, incentives and strategy implementations. They also help HR teams to integrate and inject change from the top right down to every employee.

Senior leaders communicate culture change with those who communicate in a language employees understand.

Collaboration and communication is vital for positive culture change

It is this transparent and collective methodology which has revolutionised how employees behave and perform in companies like Twitter and Google.

Twitter clearly communicates company goals and overall objectives to its employees. As a result, they have motivated employees who enjoy the team-orientated environment and incentives. From free meals at their head office to free yoga classes and unlimited holidays for some; Twitter employees have their fair share to tweet about!

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In both companies, employees love working with their colleagues, enjoy being part of an organisation in the knowledge that what they do matters; and there is a collaborative  feeling and understanding that everyone stays until the work is done.

But how do HR teams affect culture change?

HR teams are key players when creating and delivering culture change. An inspiring and engaging culture requires constant attention from senior leaders. However, it is HR who have the power to shape, influence and communicate culture changes to employees.

Fundamentally, HR departments are the backbone which unites all staff, particularly in larger workforces. With their finger firmly on the pulse when it comes to employee perceptions, HR departments not only help create change but can help leaders deliver change effectively and strategically. They are the vital component in delivering employee feedback which can have an underlining effect on what culture changes are needed in the company.

Most importantly, HR departments are a constant and gentle reminder that the company needs culture change. It is their drive and determination which helps senior leaders successfully implement and integrate change into the workforce.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how to integrate culture change within your workforce, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Mergers and Acquisitions (M&As)

How change management is essential during an M&A

Managing change during a Merger and Acquisition (M&A) can be incredibly stressful and go catastrophically wrong if senior leaders, or even staff alone, are not ready for the change.

Often, companies treat the change as a separate entity or stand-alone activity. This can have a devastating effect on how the collective workforce approaches, views or deals with a merger.

M&A’s need collaboration from all sides

Although change management has a hierarchical directive, collaboration and communication with senior leaders is key in its creation and implementation. By providing opportunity to feedback and contribute to change because of a recent M&A can create a more unified and embracing culture which will entice rather than scare employees through the overwhelming, often, daunting process.

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Communicate from the onset through all M&As

Change management only works effectively when processes and communication are enforced at the start of a significant change. During M&As, leaders face many challenges including cultural and stress management, redundancies, HR restructuring, resistance to change and job insecurities. As a result, change management implications need to be considered from the onset before negotiations are finalised.

Below is a collection of articles which focus on the good, the bad and the ugly of M&A’s; looking at what went wrong and what key leaders did, to successfully merge two iconic brands.  From the phenomenally successful merger of Disney and Pixar to the almost, disastrous merger of Yahoo and Facebook; check our favourite accounts of some well-known brands:

Offering a great synopsis; this site gives a collection of mergers which have succeeded or failed miserably when embarking on a company merger:

http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/business/blog/best-and-worst-corporate-mergers/

A great article listing some of the worst mergers that have happened in the last couple of years; including legendary Apple and LaLa, Facebook and Instagram:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/worst-tech-mergers-acquisitions-cisco-linksys-apple/

The following website provides thought-provoking video snippets of corporate mergers that have gone wrong:

https://www.phactual.com/9-corporate-mergers-gone-wrong/

An M&A is one of the largest changes companies can undergo and often, staff are susceptible to the greatest of disruptions. The key to success? Communication and collaboration from day one: giving you the power to excel through even the most trying times!

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how we can help with change management when going through an M&A, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Creating a successful employee value proposition (EVP)

What is an Employee Value Proposition?

An Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is an employment proposal which outlines what an employer expects from its employees and what it provides its employees in return.  Generally, it is the key tool to engage, attract and retain quality talent.

Similarly, to a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) which focuses on why customers should buy into a product or service, an EVP concentrates on why a candidate should choose to work, stay and engage within a company.

It is the unique value which a company can bring not only to its future but also its existing employees.

According to Richard Veal, Head of Towers Watson’s Reward, Talent and Communication Consulting, UK practice:

“Unfortunately, to many organisations the EVP remains a hidden gem that is unshaped, overlooked or not utilised to its fullest extent. Our latest research provides important insights into what makes the best companies – those with highly effective EVPs – different.”

The impact of an effective employee value proposition

Effective EVP’s encompass strategy, communication and engagement.  This can help attract new employees and align personal goals and values with the company’s goals and values (aiding in employee retention).

To develop a strong EVP that is effective and communicates the overall strategy of the company it is imperative to collate and digest current feedback.  Fundamentally, this should focus on how internal and external audiences perceive the company’s brand and culture.

Find out why employees were attracted to your company, why they have stayed and the unique offerings that competitors have failed to offer. It is also important to assess why employees have left or why candidates have turned down a role. A company can achieve a 360° review of its proposition in a variety of ways. These can include employee surveys, focus groups and external surveys targeted at former employees and job applicants; providing more qualitative and quantitative data.

By establishing current and previous feedback, this will help create a more effective and targeted EVP; strengthening the overall company brand and solidifying industry positions.

Strengthen your company with a purpose-led EVP today!

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on creating a more wholesome and strategically focused EVP, call or email us today.  Let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Internal versus External Communications: The Relationship

Internal versus external communications: making a stand!

Internal versus external communications is a staple topic.  Historically, they have targeted very different audiences; communicating with those who work inside the organisation and communicating with those who do not.  However, the audience focus for internal and external communications is now migrating to a more targeted reach and instead; companies are embracing ‘all’ audiences instead of a targeted selection.

From investors to shareholders, employees to the general public, communication has evolved into a hub of ‘share and display’. Consequently, as companies demonstrate value recognition, the divide between internal versus external communication starts to merge.

Companies that have merged internal and external communications

Companies, including HSBC and Royal Mail, have avoided compartmentalising communications into internal and external by introducing channels that are accessible by  all audiences.  As a result, both companies have increased engagement and strengthened trust in their overall brands.  With over 250,000 employees located across 71 countries; HSBC, has launched a weekly TV programme that aimed to unite and screen their employees inside and outside the business.

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According to the Event and Visual Communication Association, a 15% engagement increase was recorded internally as a result of the new channel entitled ‘HSBC Now’; embracing the open culture of their workforce.

Royal Mail created an online platform aptly named myroyal.com giving public accessibility to internal news and recent accreditations, awards, shares, employee feedback and even, an online uniform brochure!  Subsequently, Royal Mail’s latest online channel led to better engagement with their employees as well as their customers.

The dynamics of internal versus external communication

Below are three fundamental tips for creating a unifying relationship between internal and external communication:

1. Communicate & explain: Create an understanding of team responsibility from the onset and this can help to reduce negative impact on departments who are divided.  Schedule workshops or regular meetings with key teams, which aim to inform, listen and deliver key campaigns in the pipeline.

2. Liaise & feedback:  For a crossover of internal and external communication to be successful, implementation of key messages must be shared across the channels.

3. Share & implement: One of the biggest downfalls for organisations who don’t communicate their internal or external comms strategy, is their inability to communicate, share and implement the campaign internally as well as externally.  For employees to actively engage and promote the company message they need to understand, participate and engage in the campaign.

Brief, share, reiterate what you are doing, why you are doing it and how it affects the whole company.

Have your say and tweet us at #iandetherelationship

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how to step away from internal versus external communications, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.