Purpose Drives Productivity: 5 Steps to Optimize Communication for Your Workforce

The pointless 9-to-5 grind is dead. Today, people need a purpose in their work. They want to be part of something, and our corporate communication needs to reflect this — to actually reach the people.

Unfortunately, our communication skills have yet to catch up with the times, and present-day organizations simply do not communicate effectively. Just 17 percent of workers strongly agree that all levels of their companies practice open communication.

It’s not the “what” of the information anymore, but the “why.” Workers aren’t satisfied with being told what to do without reason, and employee engagement separates good organizations from great ones. People want to know what we as leaders are trying to achieve, how they fit into that objective, and why they should care about the work. We must care about our employees; otherwise, the employees won’t care about us or what the company needs in return.

In an environment where employees need more than a paycheck, the question becomes: How can we ensure we’re communicating well with our team members?

Switch the Strategy

Employees don’t need to be plugged in to everything that happens in executive boardrooms. They simply want to feel included in the direction the company is heading. And even when we offer that information, workers still often feel like they’re left out of the loop because our communication methods don’t deliver information effectively.

The solution to this dilemma starts with reach. As diverse as workforces are today — even in seemingly homogenous departments — failing to reach employees is one consistent factor causing challenges. People of different ages, races, job descriptions, and leadership levels all check their phones between meetings, after completing tasks, and on their breaks. Our smartphones are always in front of us. Nevertheless, employers are still trying to drive employees to company-created destinations, like blogs and HR portals, to get the latest information. Why fight the mobile monolith when we can use it to make work better for everyone?

Providing simple push notifications or other communications directly to smartphones ensures that every employee stays in the loop and allows us to target specific messages to specific groups of employees. A notice to the sales team about upcoming priority changes, a quick update to the developers on the progress of a hardware change, or a companywide ping about the progress of a charity effort — all of these can be communicated effectively through mobile and ensure no employee feels left out.

Here’s the greatest part: employees can respond in real time. This includes mandatory responses like approvals, as well as engaging responses like a simple like or comment.

Making Mobile Work for Everyone

Now that work is less about the office building and more about shared goals, mobile communications are a critical component of keeping teams moving in the same direction. Here are five ways to ensure those lines of communication are utilized effectively:

  1. Don’t use a desktop strategy. Mobile phones are not desktops — after all, the age of the desktop is long gone. We don’t need to limit ourselves to strategies that would work the exact same way on a desktop computer. Think about how your organization operates, and recognize opportunities for mobile to enhance your existing communication capabilities.
  2. Buy it, don’t build it. Mobile apps are costly to build and maintain, and they’re often short-lived. Why should we drain our resources keeping up with app trends when all we really want is to communicate better across our organizations? Finding a company that can do the heavy lifting for us will allow leaders and teams alike to get back to work.
  3. Keep it short.We all spend a lot of time on our phones, but rarely all at one point in the day. No mobile communication strategy should require lengthy time commitments — that would defeat the entire point of convenience. Keep updates short and sweet, and make it easy for people to take action (e.g. on workflows) right on their phones.
  4. Get executive buy-in. If leadership doesn’t outwardly care about a mobile-first strategy, employees won’t care, either. Shifting to mobile communications means starting with non-mobile ones, and we need everyone in leadership to be seen as early adopters of these changes. Think of the change as more of a cultural shift and less as a technology shift.
  5. Work with what already exists. Our team members all have phones — we don’t want company-provided ones, and we certainly don’t want a bunch of side-loaded company software bogging down the ones we have. Security is important, but that doesn’t mean we need to own everyone’s phone. Focus the mobile strategy on reaching everyone; allow them to communicate with one another. IT will learn to live with it.

Making things mobile isn’t about moving existing workflows and company news to a smaller screen. It’s about enhancing existing communication practices and keeping everyone on the same page. If we all take these tips, we can make mobile the new, powerful tool in our arsenals so our employees are always aligned with the mission — and with one another.

Photo Credit: harisahmedchicago Flickr via Compfight cc