We Need to Reinvent Communication with Employees
Zoomed to death. The expression, which gained strength a few months ago, is a metaphor for the fatigue associated with excessive online meetings, especially with the use of video. In addition to Zoom, platforms like Teams, Google Meet, Workplace, Hangouts, and WhatsApp have been used to exhaustion (literally) since the beginning of the pandemic to connect confined employees at home with their companies and with each other.
The numbers are frightening. According to the UC Today portal, throughout 2020 there were an average of 11 million virtual meetings per day in the US alone, and each person participated on average 62 meetings per month – half considered to be unproductive.
This statistic includes employee engagement activities. After a first wave of enthusiasm for online activities, from psychological support groups to happy hours, through cooking and stretching sessions, companies noticed an empty audience. And it is increasingly difficult to arouse people’s interest, keep the culture alive, and provide relevant interactions, which do not fall into the common grave of lives “that no one can take anymore.”
There is no ready-made solution to this issue, but the answer may lie in familiar terrain. However, it is generally applied to another audience profile: community marketing. Born with the first groups formed organically on Facebook to discuss brands, community marketing promotes creative spaces for the connection between consumers with common interests. Moreover, it allows the company to be part of the dialogue, identifying latent needs and problems in the process that can be quickly addressed.
Transferring the concept to employee engagement, however, may not be so simple. To begin, it is important to understand and accept a fundamental paradigm shift: in this model, the company ceases to occupy the role of protagonist of internal communication and becomes the moderator of a network of dialogues that include institutional messages but are not limited to them.
There are advantages that compensate for adapting to this new role. The conversations based on common interests that emerge from the employee community manages to imitate, to some extent, the fertile environment of exchanges between colleagues that happens naturally in the office and that has been lost in isolation. Contrary to popular belief, corporate culture is not limited to its values and operation style defined from the beginning, but is the result of the daily interpretation of these elements by the group of employees. Without this exchange, the culture dissolves.
In addition, by observing and participating in the conversations, the company can detect expectations and needs of the internal public that can be worked on and resolved with the participation of all.
It is important to note that the proposal here is not to abandon traditional internal communication formats. The idea is to add to these formats another network layer with less curation and more exchanges to improve the employee’s experience. It never hurts to remember that we are not in the home office. What we are experiencing is forced isolation that requires an urgent rescue of our connections with the world.
Patricia Ávila, Managing Director, JeffreyGroup Brazil