Information Overload: Employee Communications in Crisis

Let’s face it: We’re all on information overload. The amount of content we are consuming on a minute-by-minute basis in the blurred lines between our personal and professional lives has exploded in this digital economy.


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Unfortunately for our employees, this often means they’re not getting the critical information they need to make important decisions about their career development, company goals, and benefits. Great recruiters know the fine art of targeting the right candidate with the right amount of information at the right time to successfully engage with their prospects to get them in the door.
But what happens after those candidates agree to become employees? How do we continue to engage with them throughout their employee journeys?

Cutting Through the Noise

Part of this formula requires simply communicating in a way employees find engaging. Taking a page from the recruiter’s playbook, we must communicate with the right employee, at the right time, with the right message. And to cut through the noise, we have to use a campaign approach similar to strategies used by consumer marketers.
That means our communications can’t be a “one and done” strategy. They should be engaging, delivered using various content types, and “dripped” over time so the messaging has time to sink in with clear calls to action.

Testing 1, 2, 3

We hesitate to test different messages and methodologies with our employees. But the truth is, in today’s dispersed and diverse workforce, the “one size fits all” approach to communication really doesn’t fit anyone.
It’s OK to test different content, styles, subject lines, days of the week, and calls to action in our employee communication campaigns. Getting real-time data and being flexible enough to modify our communications is the key to engagement.

Be Acronym-Aware

Many of our employee communications end up taking on personas of the authors. If coming from the HR team, we might use a lot of HR-related acronyms: COLA (not the soft drink), HDHP, COBRA (definitely not a snake), HSA, etc.  And it’s not just HR.
Finance, engineering, product, and sales all have their own sets of acronyms and buzzwords. If we want to engage our employees, we need to help them by communicating clearly with real words.

Bite Size Is the Right Size

With our vast consumption of data, our brains have to process information quickly in order to get through the day. We can help our employees by putting communications in a digestible, “snackable” format that’s easy to read and understand.
Having fun with the content is OK, too, since employees respond well to “infotainment.” Some of us may argue that all the fine print needs to be included—no worries, there’s a home for that as well. But like our recruiting family, we have to attract employees enough to get them to commit to more. So, a simple, engaging teaser video that employees click on to learn more can get them to the “fine print” we need them to act upon.
In the age of robocalls, long e-mails written in legal jargon, and impersonal posters hung up in breakrooms, it’s time to make a human connection with our employees. Do our communications reach our employees on an emotional level? Do these communications feel personable, relatable, and relevant? Our employees are searching for meaning in their careers, with their colleagues, and in their communications.
Let’s give them what they’re searching for.

Keith Kitani is CEO and cofounder of GuideSpark. He brings over 20 years of digital communications and eLearning expertise to creating, building, and leading GuideSpark as it transforms workplace communications.

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