Successful leaders know that effective communications are a competitive advantage. As you begin 2017, make a resolution to evaluate the health of your employee communications. Are business goals and actions aligned? Do employees understand priorities and do they have a way to participate and share ideas?
Everyone talks about the importance of communications, but it’s just lip service without an actionable plan. Here are four ways to achieve better communications in your ESOP in 2017.
1) Map out your communications calendar right now—Begin with a “Welcome to 2017” message. Schedule dates for the entire year now to ensure it remains a priority. Keep the content fresh with a mix of performance results, customer and employee stories, and encouragement. We all need more of that.
2) Articulate the vision— If a customer asks an employee what your business was about, what would they say? Everyone on your team should use the same headline. When people can connect their work to big goals, they are more engaged. Leaders who communicate the vision and values, then put those values into action, see performance climb.
3) Use stories to make an impact—Think back to the most recent story that struck a chord with you. Was it complicated or overstuffed with facts? Simple stories make an emotional connection with the audience and hold their attention. Use your own experiences to make a point. Leaders who share a little of themselves in communications are viewed as credible and human.
4) Get visual—Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. If you rely on email as your primary form of communication, there is a better way. In 2016, there were 4.6 billion cell phone users in the world and most phones have video or photo capability. Your team members are viewing or creating visual media every day. Use photos and video as frequently as you use memos. Video is an excellent way to improve message retention, connect with remote workers, and engage senior leadership with teams. The best part is you don’t have to have a large budget or be an on-camera pro. If you’re sincere, it will be memorable.
The single most important characteristic of a successful ESOP is ownership culture. Profitability and growth are assured when employees are invested and involved. Your Communications Committee can play a significant role in building employee engagement, yet in discussions with ESOP leaders, some say it’s difficult to even get volunteers for the Communications Committee.
What can you do? Start small and build on success. Empower your Communications Committee and position them for success by doing these things:
Set clear goals
The Communications Committee should have a clear mission statement and bylaws to outline members’ duties and responsibilities. Put guidelines in place to address issues like how the committee works representation, term limits, and the member election process. Make it part of the committee’s responsibilities to set goals and develop strategies to improve communications within the company. Measure the results to determine what worked.
Ask employees what you should stop/start/continue
Most communication committees are tasked with educating and explaining the ESOP and acting as the bridge between the employees and company leadership. One of the best ways to do this is to ask frontline employees what they think about the ESOP. There are many free online survey programs, like Survey Monkey, Zoho and Typeform that you can use to check in with employees. Get specific about your current communications and education and find out if it’s working or how it can improve. And remember, when you ask for feedback, act on it. Otherwise, you may create dis-engagement.
Be sure to involve team members from all employment levels. This means that you’ll need to encourage some people who don’t want to be involved. But here’s a secret: the naysayers bring perspectives that may not have been considered previously. Once they are involved, they are fantastic emissaries for your ESOP.
Interested in creating a Communications Committee for your company? Need ideas on what to communicate? We’ve got that covered. Visit our website to view our 12-month communications toolkit.
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Murray Securus Wins 2nd Place in ESOP Communication
Murray Securus, formed in 2012 after the merger of Murray Risk Management and Insurance and The Securus Group, provides business solutions and advisor services in areas such as employee benefits, third-party administration, wealth management, risk and insurance.
Murray Securus not only provides ESOP advice, but is itself an employee-owned company; it made an entry for the Annual Awards for Communications Excellence at the 2013 meeting of the ESOP Association, and was honored with second place in the category of all U.S. businesses with fewer than 250 employees.
Being recognized as having the second-best implementation of ESOP communication in the country is the result of Murray’s dedication to practicing its effective approach internally as well as helping its ESOP company clients improve their practices.