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BRANDE : Internal communications

April 5, 2017

Activate Your Brand Internally

You’ve done it. You have a stellar consumer brand. Your career website tells the story you need to—about your culture, the talent you are seeking and the opportunities you have for those that are more than a culture fit, and are a “culture add.” You’re getting resumes from the right candidates for the right jobs. Things couldn’t be better. But aren’t you forgetting something?

Once your exciting new candidates are new employees, is your talent brand holding up internally? And just as importantly, do your existing employees feel like they are a part of the story?

Now’s the time to take the principles of your talent brand and make sure it applies internally across all your communications touch points from your intranet to your training programs. Here are some tips on where to begin.

Create Internal Awareness of Your Talent Brand
As you developed the brand architecture for your talent brand, you likely shared it with and sought input from your senior leaders, key HR stakeholders, your communications teams, and hopefully some influential hiring managers. Now it is time to go further. Consider creating an eye-catching, one-page overview of your talent brand and what it is trying to achieve related to your culture and working at the company. Share it with all your people managers and give them key points to share with their employees—an appropriate time to launch might be in conjunction with a milestone of your performance management cycle, merit increases or bonus payouts, or when the company releases its yearly goals or strategy.

Once you have communicated your talent to employees, get them involved. And I don’t mean just in your employee referral program. Consider tactics such as employees creating personal statements (with photos) like “I’m proud to work for my company because…” or “I enjoy coming to work every day because…” and having them share on your intranet or internal social media channels, such as Yammer. Consider partnering with your external communications teams to share the best ones on your corporate social media channels to furthering our your corporate reputation and employment brand.

Take Stock of Internal Touch Points
Are various touch points across the employee life cycle telling the same story as your talent brand? Is your talent brand coming through in your internal communications?

Take the time to look at some of your internal processes to ensure that they are reinforcing your talent brand and that your new hires and existing employees hear the story that is being told externally living up on the inside.

Some key areas to look at that may need updating or refreshing to match your talent brand include:

• New hiring onboarding and orientation

• Learning and development programs/training (especially training for new people managers, inclusion and diversity          seminars, rollouts of the code of conduct, etc.)

• Performance management process (Did you promise ongoing feedback during the hiring process and are you living up to it?  Are your people managers equipped to do it?)

• Talent management and succession planning (Are you honoring the tenants of your talent brand as you evaluate the future  talent plans of the organization?)

Review all your internal materials from top to bottom—from new hire paperwork to benefits brochures, to your intranet platform, to signage around the office. Does everything support the talent you want to keep today and the talent you want to inspire tomorrow? Each piece of your internal communications should support the story you want to tell about who you are as an employer—from attracting new talent to keep your best talent. Now may be the time to embark on that communications audit you’ve been avoiding.

Need help reinforcing your talent brand internally? Let us help.

May 20, 2016

4 Reasons Why Companies Should Budget More Dollars Towards Internal Communications

It is commonplace for CEOs to assign a much greater dollar amount to their sales and marketing budgets versus their funds for internal communications. One is seen to drive revenue while the other is perceived as a cost center. But that might be flawed thinking. There are several key indications that point to employer branding and internal communications as having a strong ability to make a significant impact on the bottom line. Here’s how: 1. The Real Cost of Turnover – Choose your statistic – the cost of employee turnover is estimated in a variety of ways. Recent studies from SHRM put it at 6-9 months of salary and ERE Media cautions that when you add in the costs of interviewing hiring, training, lost opportunity etc. it can be anywhere from 50% of the annual salary for an entry level employee to 500% for a high–level employee. So on average it might cost you $250,000 to replace 12 employees.

How employer branding and internal communications help:

1. Recurring internal communications have the ability to create strong emotional bonds with employees, connecting them to their ability to make an impact on the success of the company.

Internal communications vehicles can include everything from your benefit communications updates to the signage on the flat screens in reception. You can add footers to your PowerPoints and newsletters or banners to your intranet. For something way more ubiquitous add an Employer Branding statement to your corporate email signatures. The greatest job satisfaction comes from knowing your efforts make a difference and the more frequently employees are reminded and recognized for their contributions, the less likely they will be to leave.

2. The Service-Profit Chain

Now that we’ve made the correlation to internal communications and reduced turnover, let’s factor in the Service-Profit Chain  which links employee loyalty to customer loyalty. The famous research from Harvard Business Review linked profit increases of more than 50% to the 20% Taco Bell stores with the lowest turnover. That’s because higher levels of employee loyalty result in greater levels of customer satisfaction so you have customers who stay longer and spend more.

3. Engaged employees are your best customers.

One of the greatest perks of careers in retail are the employee discounts. And for many retailers, their employee base represents their largest customer segment. Since 40%-50% discounts on the retail price is roughly the same as the wholesale prices, companies are still making money along with providing a great employee incentive.  Savvy communications pros use internal communications to continually promote new styles, trends and behind the scenes intelligence to the people who have the largest vested interest in the company’s success. To some it’s a marketing campaign, to others it is a way to build internal brand ambassadors. To us it’s a win-win.

4. The ROI of Employee Connections   

The average person has 1 to 12 intimate contacts, 150 social contacts and 500 – 1,500 weak ties. So if you’re working for a company of 1,000 employees that means that you could be sharing information with 1.5 million people just from your internal communications.

Use these internal evangelists to sell your products and services (see above) but also to build your image as an Employer of Choice.

Promote your job opportunities to them through a well-designed Employee Referral Program. You will save the company money spent on paid recruiting methods such as advertising and recruiting agency fees. Best of all, by telling other people why they love working for your company, your employees will also be re-selling themselves on why they stay. So turnover goes down.

And now we’ve come full circle.

Need help with your internal comms? We can help. 

 

April 13, 2015

Employee Engagement 101

A new study from Gallup found that 51% of American workers are “not engaged” in their jobs. 17% were “actively disengaged.” Such employees hurt their company’s morale, productivity, retention, and bottom line. Luckily, there a number of ways to engage employees and turn these negatives into positives. Here’s an overview.

A User-Friendly Intranet

Intranets used to be boring, static platforms where employees would occasionally visit to read about their benefits and find departmental phone numbers. Now, savvy organizations use intranets to connect with employees every day. They also allow workers to talk back to the company, in the form of surveys and polls. And intranets are now much more than text. They can include video of the CEO’s speeches and photos of company events. Some even allow employees to post their own photos and other content. IBM’s robust intranet mimics some of Facebook’s functions, letting employees reward each other and even mentor each other. A social, multimedia intranet helps employees feel more connected to their colleagues, to offices in other cities, and to the larger company mission.

A Rewarding Employee Referral Program

An ERP is a great way to engage employees. Asking them to help find the next generation of workers is very empowering. The materials you provide them with — from calling cards to YouTube links — reinforce the company brand and culture not just with job-seekers but with current employees, too. An employee referral program is easy to gamify (see below), which adds an element of fun while increasing urgency. By offering varied and thoughtful rewards, you can make every employee feel valued and special. Referrals have a higher retention rate than other hires (46% to 33% after one year) and are generally higher-quality hires. Another benefit: If the program goes well, employees end up working alongside their friends, which increases camaraderie and retention.

Making a Game of It

One of the latest tools in employee engagement is gamification, adding game mechanics to a non-game activity, like a sales contest. Savvy organizations are using gamification in numerous HR tasks. For example, Cricket Wireless gamified its training program, giving employees points and virtual badges as they passed training tasks. A leaderboard showed not just individual scores but also store-to-store rankings, giving employees a chance to team up and not just compete against each other. . St. Lawrence College used gamification to improve employee wellness,  awarding points when workers competed in fitness challenges, took health quizzes, or met their goals. The result went far beyond wellness: 88% of SLC workers said the program improved their sense of teamwork and collaboration.

Internal Communications That Really Communicate

Intranets are just one way to engage employees through internal communications. Many companies have found success with full internal social networks like Yammer, Chatter, or MangoApps. They let employees collaborate in a social setting that takes the place of emails and meetings, which often slow productivity. You can also take your internal communications mobile, sending text messages to employees. There’s nothing to design, and open rates are often better than email because the message because comes to employees’ personal device. You can innovate in other ways, too — who says an employee newsletter has to be a piece of paper distributed once a month? What if it was a video? Or a Pinterest board curated by a different employee each week? Any new idea that supports employee endeavors, recognizes their achievements, and increases collaboration will keep workers engaged. They’ll know you value their work and their time.

These four tactics can help your organization reinforce your company culture and employer brand every day. They reach employees in innovative ways and reward them for their efforts. They create a dialogue so that workers feel valued and heard.

Brandemix is an expert at internal communications, employee referral programs, intranets, and gamification. If you’d like to implement any of these into your employee engagement strategy, give us a call.

Jody Ordioni is President of Brandemix.

December 29, 2014

The Most Popular Blog Posts of 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, I thought I’d take a look back at the year’s most popular blog posts. The topics range from social recruiting to employer branding to video marketing. I hope these articles will help you reach your target audience in your most important marketing, branding, and talent acquisition initiatives.

Thanks for reading and happy new year.

Jody Ordioni, President of Brandemix

Here are the BrandeBlog’s six most-read posts of 2014.

Social Recruiting is Still the Next Big Thing
Jobvite released its 2014 Job-Seeker Survey, speaking to 2,135 adults both in and out of the labor force. The report shows that social and mobile recruiting are still trending upwards. How can you use social media to reach top talent? Read our findings.

An Internal Communications Guidebook Will Save Your Culture
Internal communications can be challenging for large organizations. It’s sometimes difficult to speak with one voice and reflect the organization’s mission, vision, and values when corporate communications are created by many different people, sometimes in locations scattered around the world. Internal communications reinforce the business strategy to all employees, so it’s important that they’re consistent, effective, and on-brand. The solution for many organizations is to create a communications guide or toolkit. Here’s how to do it.

Employer Branding Global Trends and Surveys
Employer Brand International just released its 2014 Employer Branding Global Trends Study Report, a survey of more than 1,100 leaders from around the world. The goal was to discover how their organizations use employer branding to attract, engage, and retain talent talent, and their plans for their employer brand’s future. Here are the survey’s most important findings.

Social Media PR Disasters: Think Before You Post
Several small-scale disasters have shaken social media over the past few days, and they all have one thing in common: poor judgment. There’s something about the immediacy and brevity of Twitter and Instagram that leads brands to post with little thought to the consequences. Learn from their recent mistakes.

Nothing Engages Audiences Like Video Content
Integrated marketing success hinges on having a great website. And consistent, relevant social media. And consumable content across responsive media. But the crucial element to bringing it all to life is video. Validated in the latest surveys and best-practice case studies, it’s evident that video is truly changing the way we brand, market, inspire, and engage with our target audiences. Here are the latest statistics and discoveries.

Social Media Fun Facts
What’s the most photographed location on Instagram? The most popular tweet on Twitter? The most shared video on YouTube? The answers may surprise you — and can help you decide what content to create and share with your own audiences.Want to be more popular to job-seekers, employees, and customer?

Put Brandemix on your to-do list for 2015.
March 28, 2014

An Internal Communications Guidebook Will Save Your Culture

Internal communications can be challenging for large organizations. It’s sometimes difficult to speak with one voice and reflect the organization’s mission, vision, and values when corporate communications are created by many different people, sometimes in locations scattered around the world. Internal communications reinforce the business strategy to all employees, enhancing and reflecting the culture, so it’s important that they’re consistent, effective, and on-brand.

The solution for many organizations is to create a communications guide or toolkit. Sometimes called a brand book, brand equity playbook, or internal communications guidebook, it’s a compendium of guidelines and templates that’s continually updated to reflect creative components, copy and design specifications, and identity guidelines that make up the company’s brand assets. It helps any team or person painlessly refer to and create communications that properly reflect the appropriate style and messaging.

That’s how a communications guidebook can save your culture. It simply has to contain the following content:

Overview of the Brand

An employee can’t write something that reflects the organization’s brand if they don’t know what it is! The first part of any guidebook should include the company’s mission, vision, and values, as well as its employer branding. (Don’t have an employer brand? Start here.) This will give anyone creating HR communications a foundation for their material, ensuring the information matches the company’s organizational culture and outlook.

Development of the Creative Brief

Creating internal communications is harder than it looks, and some employees will be unfamiliar with the process. I recommend breaking down the creative brief to show the value of each step. These include:

– Identifying objectives, which helps determine what the material will say, who will receive it, and at least one metric for measuring success.
– Clarifying the message, to focus on exactly what the material will say.
– Preparing the budget, since a text-only email has a far different cost from a full-color brochure.
– Planning distribution, whether it’s electronic, “snail mail,” or posted on employee bulletin boards.
– Developing a baseline for scope, schedule, and cost, to get agreement among all stakeholders  for the project’s purpose, requirements, and deliverables.

Visual Identity

Internal communications should match either the organization’s consumer brand, or its employer brand, or sometimes a seasonal or event brand such as “Countdown to Summer.” A guidebook should include a section that covers the identity and style for all types of communications. Sections often include:

– General design guidelines that explain the unifying characteristics of all communications.
– Logo guidelines, with approved and unapproved examples.
– Color palette, with official Pantone colors for print and their web equivalents.
– Typography, listing the organization’s official fonts.
– Imagery guidelines, such as photos of actual employees vs. stock photography.

Copy Voice and Tone

Equally important as the look of an HR communications project is its sound. If an organization has an official style guide, it should go here. I also recommend providing a list of the most common rules and terms, such as approved abbreviations and acronyms. Often, words from the company’s values or guiding principles make their way into communications, so that “providing customer service,” for example, is always written as “providing fanatical customer service” (the word choice of Rackspace).

This section should also include the proofreading and editing process, as well as guidelines for establishing how different drafts are labeled and approved.

Samples

As clear as a guidebook’s instructions may be, nothing beats seeing actual examples. The last part of the book should include images and templates for every type of communication, from employee newsletters to recruitment materials to websites.

Improving internal communications requires careful thought, detailed planning, and creativity. A good guidebook improves the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization by creating increased cohesion among employees. It arms them with all the information they need to create compelling, memorable, and easy-to-use HR communications. The effect on the organization’s culture is profound; in some cases, a strong communications guidebook really can save a culture from apathy, low morale, or competing visions.

At Brandemix, we’ve created guidebooks for all types of organizations, from global corporations to non-profits. If you’d like our expertise in creating your own communications guide, contact us. Or add your comments with links to samples of ones you’ve created.