If a company’s employees don’t feel connected to senior staff, the company suffers
No matter the scope or size of an organization, an ‘us vs them’ mentality brings out the best in no-one.
The strongest, most successful companies communicate a sense of purpose. They work hard to craft a collaborative and committed culture, one where there’s little to no divide between base-level employees and the C-suite. But while some (largely digital-first) companies have managed to rise to this communications challenge, many are still struggling.
Engaging your staff
In 2017, management consultancy, Gallup, released a report that revealed 85% of US employees are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work. This lack of engagement isn’t just bad for productivity, it’s also bad for the overall direction of the company – something which the C-suite should be particularly concerned about.
When employees are engaged, they become ambassadors for the vision, values and direction of the company. They become contributors to its culture and committed to its goals. However, when they’re disengaged, they show up, punch the clock and do their time. No more, no less. No extra mile.
So how do we reach out to those employees who are feeling demotivated, disinterested or simply too busy to truly engage in the company culture? And how do leaders working in the C-suite ensure that everyone is on board and pulling in the same direction?
The first step to re-engaging employees in a company’s culture is not to force it upon them, but to empower them at the individual level.
Successful companies, those with the most committed and productive employees, are the ones that create an environment where everybody feels appreciated and involved.
One of the best ways to do this is to highlight to employees the value of their work. Let them know why it’s important, how it impacts the company’s direction and what it means in terms of achieving strategic goals.
It’s important that each employee understands how their work contributes to their individual goals, the company’s goals, the targets of their team, the C-suite, and the overall success of the company.
By understanding the results of their work, and what that means to the company in real terms, employees can be given a renewed sense of purpose. This can be the difference between someone simply showing up for work (because they feel they have to) and arriving engaged and invested because they are rightly treated as an integral part of how the company operates.
Addressing the C-suite disconnect
While highlighting the value of employee work is an important step in the right direction, it only solves one part of the problem. Often, one of the biggest reasons for a lack of engagement in the workplace is because a disconnect exists between base-level employees and the C-suite.
As companies grow and businesses start to work at an increasingly international level, it’s easy for employees and management to drift apart. It can be hard enough to ensure adequate face-to-face time with your team when working in the same building, so operating from another country inevitably amplifies this disconnect.
But it’s not just international corporations that experience these difficulties. Now, with remote working on the rise, such disconnects can affect any company, of any size. In fact, Kollective’s research into this topic found that 45% of US workers are not currently satisfied with the level of communication they receive from senior management.
C-suite executives themselves are not unaware of this issue. Many acknowledge that there’s a gap between executives and employees, and that communication channels don’t always operate as they should. But if a business is to be successful — keeping employees engaged and attracting future talent — then we must come up with a workable solution to ensure effective communication.
Connecting the C-suite through video
To overcome this challenge, businesses must look for new ways to maintain the connection between the C-suite and those on the ground floor. Often this is being achieved through semi-regular company updates, emails and newsletters. In fact, Kollective’s research suggests that as many as 76% of businesses are still using mass email newsletters to connect with staff, while nearly a third (31%) still communicate via printed documents and memos.
The problem with these communication methods is that they are still largely impersonal and are “top-down” focused. Rarely will they provide the level of attention needed to ensure that workers feel appreciated by the C-suite and that their work is being recognised as adding value to the company as a whole. Without this recognition, employee engagement will continue to suffer.
While such communication channels aren’t ideal, for many large or dispersed companies the idea of regular face-to-face catch ups with employees simply isn’t realistic. This is where video communication can start to make a real difference.
Video communication offers C-level executives the level of face-to-face interaction associated with personal meetings, but without the logistical or time constraints. For many brands this has meant launching ‘video newsletters’ or ‘virtual town hall’ meeting with the C-suite – providing real-time, streamed or VoD updates from senior members of staff. The result is not only more facetime with teams, but also a greater opportunity for interaction, questions and direct feedback.
Storytelling is a powerful communication tool that senior leaders can use to engage employees. When leaders tell stories about employees making a positive difference with customers or solving thorny business problems, the connection between leaders and employees becomes warmer and more personal. Video is the most powerful medium for storytelling with its ability to evoke an emotional response.
While it’s important that senior leaders don’t see the use of these video technologies as a replacement to all face-to-face meetings, they do provide an opportunity to re-prioritise the available time. By swapping out certain meetings for company-wide video updates, C-level executives can decide which of their face-to-face meetings are the most valuable. This means they can devote more time to those members of the team that currently require the most attention and engagement in order to stay motivated and really excel. Engaging stories illustrate how the whole company can work together to solve problems and serve customers. This is not only better for the productivity of the business, but also better for the overall motivation of each and every employee.
About the Author
Patty Perkins is Enterprise Video Strategist, Kollective. At Kollective, we make corporate networks smarter so your people can work better. Easy to deploy, maintain and scale, our platform makes it possible to deliver bandwidth-hungry content like live video and software updates to the very edges of your network using a fraction of the bandwidth.