When it comes to launching something new at your organization, whether it’s a wellness program, employee benefits or your total rewards package, I think we can agree that the key to success is strong employee communication. In fact, 89% of people believe that effective communication is extremely important. In contrast, 8 out of 10 people rate their own business’ communication as either average or poor.
Successful communication within your organization builds trust and buy-in among employees. It opens the door for more innovative ideas and better client relationships. But, how do you ensure your organization is communicating effectively?
It helps to have a process in place. A process allows you to follow a set of rules or steps to ensure you’re actively evolving the way you communicate and following a thoughtful communication strategy. Any good communications process creates a natural cycle and includes these four key steps – listening, strategizing, implementation and optimizing.
At First Person Advisors, we created a proprietary communications process that goes beyond those four steps and have started implementing LASSOTM with clients interested in advancing their communication efforts with their employees and beyond.
LASSO – Listen, Assess, Start, Strategize, Optimize – allows us to take a deep dive into your organization to understand not just the wants, but also the needs of your organization and your employees. Let’s break down the LASSO approach.
In the Listen stage, it’s important to fully understand the goals and strategies of your organization. What are you hoping to accomplish? What are employees saying? Understanding what your leadership team desires and what they want to accomplish is critical to creating an internal communication strategy. Likewise, it’s also important to listen to your employees and what might be missing. More often than not, what your leadership team thinks is not exactly what your employees may experience. Employee feedback can come from multiple resources such as surveys, focus groups or suggestions, and First Person tailors what information is gathered to a clients specific needs.
After getting a pulse on your needs, wants and goals, it’s important to audit your company’s communication materials. This gives us a better look at what’s been done in the past to see if there are any consistencies. Any and all communications you send to employees gets reviewed, including internal emails, benefit highlight guides, employer texts, flyers, Teams or Slack channels discussions and printed materials. Anything that can give our team a better idea on the channels and frequency of your communications.
After gaining insight into your organization’s employee communication methods, it’s time for stage two: Assess. We look for what may be missing and where there’s room for improvement. That means putting a magnifying glass to your data, employee feedback, marketing channels, cadence and even what content you’re including in your communications.
When it comes to cadence, First Person is a fan of the marketing rule of seven. And, we use it often. The marketing rule of seven states that someone needs to be told something seven times seven different ways to drive response. For example, if you’re only sending out emails, then your message may be getting lost. Or, if you’re communicating seven or more different ways and still not getting the results you want, then maybe you aren’t using the right channels.
Digging into your data is where you can see whether your communications are working or not. If your Open Enrollment launch email has a low open rate, then it’s important to look at when you sent the email and what messaging you’re using in the subject line. Depending on your organization, sending an email on a Monday morning when your team is busy planning their week may not work well.
Looking at what you’re telling employees – your messaging – is equally important to examine. Do your employees understand why this communication is important? Do your employees know what action to take? Where do they go if they have questions? It’s these questions and more that your employee communications should be answering. If there are any gaps or messaging is unclear, those are opportunities that get uncovered in the Assess stage.
After we’ve compiled materials and feedback and analyzed our findings, we move into the Strategize stage of LASSO. This step is all about building an approach and deliberate outline of how to improve your organization’s communication strategy. This may include fine-tuning aspects of an already well-rounded plan or completely overhauling a process. A lot of companies have a strong base to build upon when it comes to their communications, but they just don’t realize it. That’s where First Person comes in. Sometimes it just takes an outsider to put things into perspective.
Then, it’s time to put together your communication strategy. At this stage, we present that plan to you, discuss it and get approval and buy-in. An important piece of this plan is determining logistics like timing and content creation. Some companies have their own communications team that want to incorporate their own branding and distribution channels, while others may require more help from a partner like First Person. And, that’s exactly what we are here to do, help in any way we can.
Our team has seasoned communications strategist who can help develop content, branding and templates. We can compile information and take the lead on distribution. Each plan is different, and we work with each client to develop one that fits their needs.
After we’ve decided what the communications process will be and what the next steps are, we execute the approach and strategy. Depending on your organization’s needs, this may entail handing over the reins to you, or it may mean First Person builds the materials and content. A timeline is incorporated into the process to ensure we’re meeting dates and expectations.
Finally, a communications process wouldn’t be complete without reviewing your results and making necessary enhancements. If you don’t have a plan in place to evaluate if what you are doing is working, then all the work you’ve put into everything up to this point was worthless. Whether you review daily click-through rates of emails or monthly unique visits to a website, it is imperative to have a plan in place to review each communication piece.
By having a plan in place and a timeline of when to review the results, you can reassess if what you are doing is working. It may even mean changing the entire process. You may see that employees are responding more to text messaging than they are emails, so you might want to increase the amount of texts you send out. It may also be important to have a plan to reach back out to employees after a dedicated timeline to see if the changes you’ve made are effective.
Whatever process you put in place at your company, it’s important to understand that it’s not set in stone and will evolve over time as your needs and technology changes.
Written by Amos Haffner, VP of Communications and Marketing. Feel free to drop him a note or reach out on LinkedIn.