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.

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.

Guest blog: Speak with one voice

Internal and external communication as one

In a healthy organisation, the internal and external communications functions are close; it is a matter of basic coherence and integrity that strategic narratives to both audiences are broadly the same. The challenge is that in some organisations the internal communications function can lack status; whereas that of the external communications can prompt cynicism. For an organisation’s success it is vital that both speak with one voice.

There are matters of commercial confidentiality, but the organisation should express the same values. There should be clarity about who the company is, what it stands for, and what it’s doing, in the broader narratives. If different stories start to emerge externally, compared with practices and messages internally, this is a warning sign; an indicator of a disconnect between strategic planning and operational reality. Bringing internal and external communications together as part of strategy-setting, scenario planning and operations ensures that plans fulfil their potential.

The importance of honest and open communication

In an organisation with integrity, the marketing, personnel, research, production and senior executive departments are speaking consistently. They communicate with each other, around a shared objective of understanding the customer journey, and how well the company serves its customers when interacting with them.

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Honest and open communication is encouraged, and in both directions; such organisations treat an honest and reasonable complaint, from a customer or an employee, as a learning opportunity; as a chance to improve that customer journey and the employee’s experience.

You can test the honesty of your communications with surveys and with data. Your perception may be that you put the customer first, but have satisfaction ratings dipped in the past six months? If so, do you know why? What do your employees say about your organisation? Have your employee engagement levels dropped? And how has this affected your organisation’s performance?

How is feedback providing an opportunity?

Senior leaders, marketing, internal communications and HR should be inviting and actively seeking feedback from customers and employees at regular intervals. Annual surveys provide a broad insight into engagement and overall satisfaction; augment this with regular pulse surveys, focus groups, morning tea breaks or huddles.

Listening to feedback is the first step, acting upon it the second and arguably the more important step. Each feedback providing an opportunity to encourage interaction, engage in honest conversation and bring internal and external communication closer together by sharing success stories, acknowledging ideas for improvement, and celebrating progress.

The challenges of improving performance, boosting employee engagement, and bringing the internal and external communications together, are all closely linked activities. They are not separate departments, but distinct disciplines that form part of a collective endeavour to improve the experience for the customer and the employee with your organisation now and into the future.

Philip Whiteley is an author and journalist specialising in workplace culture and the link to organisation performance.

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 use feedback from customer satisfaction and employee engagement surveys to improve your organisation’s performance, call or email us today and let us show you how communication can boost your organisation.

How to recruit a Millennial

What is a Millennial?

The term ‘Millennial’ has taken over our social media channels, websites, intranet systems, even favoured online publications; but what are they and how can you get one?

Firstly, Millennials are people not a product!  The term ‘Millennial’ represents those born in the late 1970’s to the mid 1990’s.  Also coined as ‘Generation Y’ or the ‘Echo Boomers’ (offspring of the 50’s baby boomers); Millennials are employees who were ‘coming of age’ at the start of the new millennium.

Millennials are representing a generation which is incredibly sophisticated, technology savvy and often ‘immune’ to traditional sales and marketing pitches. They’ve seen it and been exposed to it all since early childhood.

Love it or hate it?

However, the term is slowly becoming intolerable, if not over used and has unfortunately, affected how companies recruit and expand. Suddenly, we are hearing that companies are reluctant to hire this generation; even if they have over 10 years of experience to bring to the table.

And the reason? The term has become Marmite: love it or hate it and no in-between!

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The term ‘Millennials’ has shifted from representing an age category; instead becoming a favoured term for debate; with audiences wanting to understand, analyse and dissect the term as if they are a separate species! If you are looking to recruit a millennial then your objective is off-centre.  Instead, assess what kind of candidate you need; the role you are advertising and the team you are trying to develop.  Use the recruitment process to improve your overall employer brand and not to compartmentalise an age group.

Millennials are people too: recruit as an individual and not as a term!

Quick guide to Millennial recruitment

With the right attitude and key objectives, we have developed a quick guide on what to do when recruiting a candidate:

Avoid assumptions and stereotypes: Often, Millennials are perceived to populate a small proportion of workforces when the reality is the opposite. It is projected to make up 50% of the workforce by 2020 and numbers will peak in 2036 at 81.1 million. Having a collective age range in the workplace encourages a more collaborative environment. Understand their skill sets and critical approach to brand loyalty, embrace their racial and ethnic diversity and evaluate how this can contribute to the company in its entirety.

Update, train and guide your managers: Whether it is for Generation X, Y or Z effective management will result in a more productive and receptive team. Provide regular training and continuous support to managers in helping them lead and manage teams which are diverse. Offer them guidance in acknowledging and utilising an individual’s strengths and motivations no matter what their age range.

Research and behavioural analysis: Unfortunately, a multitude of tools have emerged helping applicants to develop their CV’s which increase online visibility. Often these CV’s are a by-product of these tools rather than a true reflection of the candidate.

Use pre-employment interviews to encourage a more accurate overview of your applicant, helping to identify key motivators and strengths, customer service orientation and skill sets. This will also help develop your recruitment and selection process as well as any subsequent training packages.

Communicate your company’s culture: When developing your employer brand think about the environment your candidates will be working in. Your company culture should accommodate a multitude of ages and not be aimed at one selective group. A shift in engagement has encouraged companies to embrace a more collaborative and open environment. The recruitment process can help you assess how people view your company externally and how you are positioned against your competitors.

An attractive company makes for a more appealing employer

Millennial facts

And just for fun…here is a collection of ‘Millennial facts’ showing how age can be immersive instead of a hindrance:

  • 45 percent believe a decent paying job is a “privilege”, not a “right.”
  • 64 percent of Millennials would rather make $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring.
  • 88 percent prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one.
  • 74 percent want flexible work schedules.
  • 80 percent of Gen-Y say they prefer on-the-spot recognition over formal reviews; they feel that this is imperative for their growth and understanding of a job.
  • 70 percent have “Friended” their managers and/or colleagues on Facebook.
  • 71 percent don’t always obey social-media policies at work.
  • Millennials are connected to an average of 16 co-workers on Facebook.
  • 69 percent believe office attendance is unnecessary on a regular basis.
  • 35 percent of employed Millennials have started their own business on the side to supplement their income.
  • 84 percent say that helping to make a positive difference in the world is more important than professional recognition.
  • 41 percent of Millennials have no landline at home and rely on their mobile phones for communication.
  • Millennials value community, family, and creativity in their work.

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 recruitment, on-boarding and retention of employees and Millennials, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.