Do you communicate with your people effectively?
As you read this you are likely to be sat at your desk looking at your screen or on the move and looking at your phone. When it comes to your talking to your workforce, the situation is likely to be the same. Communicating with employees still relies heavily on pushing the message through traditional means, whether through email blasts or meetings.
The emails you get from management are all too easy to delete and only carry the brand culture in terms of language and logos. What’s more, you might get them at fairly random intervals. As a result, it’s all too easy to end up detached from the brand and a wider sense of corporate culture.
Imagine how much bigger this challenge is for companies with dispersed workforces. When you’re an engineer digging up the road or turning up to read the meter, the difficulty in feeling part of something bigger than the small team you work with is immense. The brand starts and stops with the logo on the side of the van.
This is a very real problem for large organisations who want to create and maintain a brand culture and build a sense of community within the company. People want to feel they are part of something bigger than them – they want to belong. It’s a natural human trait. The challenge here is to find something that can connect employees with a shared experience. Even corporate social media can fall in the field if people aren’t seeing the content.
"If a corporate conversation is worth having, its worth having with everybody."
We found the answer in music
Whether it’s having Radio 1 blaring in the cab of your van or discreetly popping in your headphones in the office, there is an emotional sustenance that you can only find in music. Music can really bring a brand to life.
Our solution to the perennial problem of engaging these ‘hard to reach’ audiences has been to go straight to their mobile phones, sharing music, keeping them informed on relevant developments and allowing them to participate and interact from remote locations.
Essentially, the music becomes a conduit for information. The trick is to join the detail and data with the brand to deliver something unique and scalable that brings everyone together. The music needs to be carefully researched to match the demographic – you need people to want to hear the content. The content also needs to be relevant – what do I need to know and why?
It also needs to be interactive to get people involved and create a sense of community. One of the benefits of this interactivity is that the content can be a lot less dry than standard communications. It can carry all the important and serious information but it can also be cheeky and maybe a little bit irreverent. This can range from corporate announcements to details of five-a-side football or celebrations of individual achievements.
The psychology behind this is an important part in its success. The brand is telling a story and it has to know how to tell that story well. This means knowing the listener well too. As with any successful relationship you have to create a rapport and establish mutual trust for it to work. It also evolves like any other relationship. It’s a dynamic interaction and the relationship is cemented as the channel becomes more embedded in the corporate culture. We have done this very effectively with one of our clients, where we supply an interactive, 24/7 real time digital radio channel to its employees.
We made it accessible to the 33,000 strong workforce, streaming content directly to mobile devices for the workforce on the road and into shared areas where employees congregate, such as the company's canteens, offices and other buildings. We’re also seeing strong pickup from employees downloading the app to their desktop.
The mobile audio streaming platform makes it possible for the company to engage directly with its employees through dedicated audio content. All the content is delivered in real time and includes live programming from company events to keep the workforce in touch with daily developments.
The people who are listening have a real influence on the output. In many ways, the company co-creates the channel with its employees so they both own the content. When you hear the names of your colleagues on the radio or information relevant to you, you feel more connected. The station has reached the stage where employees are actually listening to it outside of work hours, because they’re getting something that other radio can’t give them in terms of relevance.
Technology can make a huge impact in helping organisations to build a better culture and stronger sense of community. Dispersed workforces are not just people on the road – remote workers and flexible working mean everyone could be affected. If a corporate conversation is worth having, it’s worth having with everybody.