the depiction of office life in the 1999 movie Office Space offers
more than a good laugh. The
film depicts three friends working at a software firm who passionately
dislike their jobs. While the movie is obviously a comedic exaggeration,
there is a real trend among U.S. workers who are dissatisfied or resentful
towards their employers.
According to research conducted by The Gallup Organization, there are
three types of employees: engaged, not-engaged, and actively disengaged.
Engaged employees "work with passion and feel a profound connection
to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization
Employees who are not-engaged, "are essentially 'checked out';
sleepwalking through their workday, putting time-but not energy or
passion-into their work."
Actively disengaged workers "act out their unhappiness," and
"undermine what their engaged workers accomplish."
According to the U.S. Employee Engagement Survey recently published in
Gallup Management Journal, a startling 69% of workers are either
not-engaged or actively disengaged on the job. Further research from the
firm estimates that approximately $370 Billion dollars are lost annually
due to lower productivity from actively disengaged workers alone.
So what can be done about this alarming trend?
While benefits, work environment and other factors certainly play a large
role in worker engagement levels, instituting a comprehensive internal
communications program is one of the most valuable ways to encourage
employees to become stakeholders in a company.
Many progressive companies now view internal communications as equal in
importance to external communications such as advertising, marketing,
public relations, and investor relations. Indeed, external marketing
can reach its full potential only when employees fully "buy in"
to a company's vision, messages, goals and values.
The best internal communications plans start with a set of corporate
values that clearly state the company's ethics, standards and principles.
All corporate communications should use the value statement as a
It's also important to conduct a company wide "communications
audit" that analyzes how communications are conducted across
divisions, offices and teams. The audit should help answer important
questions: Are employees receiving accurate information? How are employees
receiving regular information (e.g. company intranet, e-mails,
newsletters, training sessions, meetings with executives)? Are messages
consistent across the company? Do employees understand both the goals and
the results of communications?
Once the audit is complete, a plan can be
implemented that not only communicates employees' worth, but goes a step
further and demonstrates that they are critical to the company's
objectives and future. In fact, there are countless ways to reinforce
employee engagement from a communications perspective. Some creative
examples that are successful include:
Contests with compelling
prizes (free tickets to sporting events, etc.)
Celebrations of momentous
achievements attended by senior executives
recognizing employee commitment to company's values (i.e. recognizing
leadership, customer service)
programs to link junior and mid- to senior level employees across the
relations events sponsored by the company
In addition, it's important to
provide a framework in which employees can anonymously give feedback and
suggestions about the company's direction. Employees who feel that
their ideas and suggestions are taken seriously are much more likely to be
positively engaged in their job.
An organization with high levels of employee engagement enjoys increased
worker retention and gains enthusiastic advocates for its products and
services. By implementing a carefully thought-out internal communications
program, benefits can be leveraged for maximum advantage. Employee
engagement can be the catalyst that leads a company to increased levels of
productivity, creativity and bottom line results.
is a Director at Strategic
a nationally recognized, award-winning public relations and business
development firm based in Silver Spring, MD.
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