Let’s Make Internal Communications Exciting Again

The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hi Sean! I’m writing a blog post for about the benefits of creating employee-focused communications that are compelling, persuasive, and fun — the opposite of those tedious internal memos nobody reads. Do you have any colorful, exciting examples of employee communications I can share with my readers?”

Sean: “Um … nope. Now that you mention it, we’re all about those tedious memos. In fact, the only time our internal communications are exciting is when our CEO publicly calls out a department and blames them for missed sales targets.”

Me: “Wow. Thanks for letting me know. Happy to send you a link to the blog when it’s published.”

I wish this interaction had been the exception to the rule, but alas, it was not. When I called a colleague in the higher education sector, her response was similarly unenthusiastic.

“Yeah, we don’t really do stuff like that here,” she said. “We send out lots of nice mailers for the students, but the faculty and administration? They just get whatever new policies we need them to follow.”

Too often, businesses both large and small fall into the easy and comfortable trap of treating their employees like a captive audience. Because the recipients of their internal messages are on the payroll, they assume their personnel are motivated to read, absorb, and act upon every ponderous Intranet update and boring e-mail that comes their way. The reality isn’t that simple.

“Employees are as important as any audience, if not the most important,” said Janet Miller of New Jersey-based Cox Stationers and Printers, which frequently sponsors employee contests and boasts a rooftop beehive at which it holds an annual company-wide honey harvest. “Finding new ways to keep employees interested and engaged is a constant challenge, but a rewarding one.”

An effective internal communications program can do more than keep employees engaged — it can also help them avoid a broken neck.

Sweetser, a behavioral-health nonprofit in Maine, was concerned about increased employee slip-and-fall incidents in icy conditions. They dutifully issued educational materials warning of the dangers of slippery sidewalks, and advising workers to use appropriate footwear … but the accidents continued.

The following winter, Sweetser went on the offensive. Their research revealed that a special type of walk — nicknamed the “Penguin Shuffle” — had been proven to reduce falls on icy surfaces. It involved taking short, shuffling steps with the arms held out, similar to the signature waddle of the South Pole’s most ubiquitous bird.

Penguin Shuffle

Sweetser, a Maine-based nonprofit, reduced employee slip-and-fall incidents 80 percent with clever employee-focused messages like this one.

Sweetser’s Penguin Shuffle campaign was disseminated to more than 735 employees at facilities throughout the state. It included the distribution of a humorous educational video
developed by Alberta Health Services of Canada, and posters at employee entrances reminding staff members to shuffle like a penguin when crossing icy paths.

“We even put decals shaped like penguin feet on the floors during winter weather,” said Stephanie Hanner, Sweetser’s Communications Manager. “Our colleagues found it cute and entertaining, but more importantly, the message resonated.”

Stephanie’s creativity paid off. “Since introducing the Penguin Shuffle, we’ve seen an 80 percent decrease in slips and falls,” said Jon Mistos, Senior Director of Facilities at Sweetser, who chairs the organization’s Health and Safety Committee.

Internal communications don’t have to be lackluster. Rather than regarding your workforce as a captive audience, afford them the same attention you would give your most valued customer. Be clever and creative. Use appealing colors and bold visuals in your internal e-mails. Plan your Town Hall meetings around interactive exercises and icebreakers. Conduct surveys to gauge employee satisfaction — and when the feedback rolls in, be prepared to take action.

And for heaven’s sake, don’t be like Sean’s CEO. Is it any wonder his team’s performance isn’t up to par?

Good Works in the Workplace #TChat Recap

“If you can connect people, you can create the future.”
– Scott Heiferman, CEO Meetup

Thanks to the wonder of technology, network access continues to grow at an astounding pace around the world. According to Internet World Stats, 34% of the world’s 7 billion people are already online. And not surprisingly, North America leads the way, with 79% usage.

Making Connections Count

But there’s a more important challenge, here. It’s not just about counting connections. It’s about making those connections count. That led TalentCulture to ask a more specific question:

How can we leverage “always on” workplace connectivity to also do good works?

In response, some of the smartest and most passionate “world of work” advocates I know gathered on #TChat Twitter to talk about how social business initiatives can make a difference for those in need — locally and globally.

It reminded me of another event that happened last fall, where some of the planet’s smartest and most passionate philanthropy advocates gathered in New York City at the Mashable Social Good Summit. That’s where Meetup CEO Scott Heiferman, offered his quote about the power of connections in creating the future.

Two Think Tanks — One Vision

These two venues may be different — the participants may be different — and their overall reach and influence may be different. But the ideas and energy that were flowing last night on the #TChat stream were just as compelling as the vibe at the Mashable event.

To see what I mean, check this week’s archives, and get inspired to connect!

#TChat Week-in-Review

Two experts led us through this week’s conversation:

  • Jure Klepic, a digital marketing strategist and commentator focused on in social media innovation in consumer business environments;
  • Marion Mariathasan, CEO at a social network for that integrates giving into daily activities.
Jure Klepic - Google+ Hangout Video - #TChat Sneak Peek  interview with TalentCulture Community Manager, Tim McDonald

Watch the Sneak Peek video with Jure Klepic

#TChat Preview:  Our community manager, Tim McDonald, outlined the week’s topic and key questions in the #TChat Preview post: “Social Business and Social Good”

Sneak Peek VideosTim also conducted brief video interviews with our guests:

MON 4/22 TalentCulture CEO, Meghan M. Biro, in her post: “3 Global Leadership Lessons From Boston.”

Meghan on Monday: Separately, Meghan shared a more intimate view of her connection with Boston in  “Lessons in Community From My Hometown.”

TUE 4/23


Listen to the radio show recording

#TChat Radio  Our hosts Kevin and Meghan talked with Jure and Marion about how social media can do a better job of connecting the “world of work” with the world’s charitable organizations.

WED 4/24

#TChat Twitter  Hundreds of talent-minded people joined our open, online Twitter forum to exchange ideas in real-time. Watch highlights from the hour in the Storify slideshow below:

#TChat Twitter Highlights Slideshow: “Social Business and Social Good”

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Closing Notes & What’s Ahead

SPECIAL THANKS: Again, thanks to Marion Mariathasan and Jure Klepic for contributing to this week’s conversation. You brought depth and perspective that challenged our community to think more creatively about how we can weave “social good” objectives and behaviors into daily worklife.

NOTE TO BLOGGERS: Did this week’s events prompt you to write about “Social Business and Social Good” or related issues? We’re happy to share your thoughts. Just post a link on Twitter (include #TChat or @TalentCulture), or insert a comment below, and we’ll pass it along.

WHAT’S AHEAD: Next week, we’ll be looking into HR technology’s role in creating tomorrow’s workforce, as Meghan and Kevin go on the road at the HRO Today Forum. Stay tuned for “sneak peek” videos and a preview post on Monday!

Until then, as always, the World of Work conversation continues each day. So join us on the #TChat Twitter stream, or on our new LinkedIn discussion group. And feel free to explore other areas of our redesigned blog/community website. The lights are always on at TalentCulture, and your ideas and opinions are always welcome.

We’ll see you on the stream!

Image credit: Pixabay

Social Business and Social Good: #TChat Preview

(Editor’s Note: For full insights from this week’s events see “Good Works in the Workplace”)

Question: How many nonprofit organizations are in the U.S.?

a)   200,000
b)   750,000
c)  1,100,000
d)  1,500,000+

If you aimed high, you’re right. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, our country is home to more than 1.5 million charities, foundations and other nonprofit organizations.

Many are embracing social media as an easy way to extend their reach to socially conscious business organizations and their employees. However, the results are mixed. The 2012 Nonprofit Social Networking Report says many organizations are finding value in using social channels. However, translating those social media relationships into actual donations is a continual challenge.

Social Good: A Little Less Talk, More Action?

Are we spending too much time talking about social good, and not enough time on “doing” good? The TalentCulture community has tackled this topic before with guests from the business side of the corporate responsibility equation. (See  Business and the Spirit of Sharing.) But this week we’ve asked other experts to share their unique perspective on this topic:

  • Jure Klepic, a digital marketing strategist and commentator focused on in social media innovation in consumer business environments;
  • Marion Mariathasan, CEO at a social network for that integrates giving into daily activities.

#TChat Sneak Peek Videos

Jure framed this week’s conversation by talking with me about cultural factors that influence charitable behavior. Watch the Google+ Hangout now:

Next, Marion briefly touched on a key issue that successful giving initiatives must address:

#TChat Events: Putting More “Good” in Social Good

I’m excited to learn more from both of these guests, as they help us explore this topic throughout the coming week.


Tune-in to #TChat Radio live on Tuesday

How about you? What are your thoughts as members of a community focused on the “human” side of business? What kind of benefits do you see for companies and the workforce at-large in connecting more deeply with charitable organizations through digital channels?

Join the TalentCulture conversation, and let’s explore the possibilities:

#TChat Radio — Tuesday, April 23 at 7:30pmET / 4:30pmPT Jure and Marion talk with hosts Kevin W. Grossman and Meghan M. Biro about how social media can do a better job of connecting the “world of work” with the world’s charitable organizations.

#TChat Twitter — Wednesday, April 24 at 7:00pmET / 4:00pmPT — Everyone is welcome at our open, online Twitter forum, to exchange ideas in real-time about these key questions:

Q1:  Social channels facilitate open communication across groups, but what about charitable giving?
Q2:  How can nonprofits better align with corporate social responsibility initiatives?
Q3:  How can business leaders and employees boost charitable giving in their organizations?
Q4:  What ways can companies and employees contribute to nonprofits beside giving money?
Q5:  What platforms and technologies should companies leverage for charitable giving?

Throughout the week, we’ll keep the discussion going on the #TChat Twitter feed and on our new LinkedIn Discussion Group. So please join us share your questions, ideas and opinions.

We’ll see you on the stream!

(Editorial Note: Want to see the full recap of this week’s events? See “Good Works in the Workplace”)

Image credit: Flickr Creative Commons