Research highlights growing interest in more democratic approach to corporate communication

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OK, interesting news from Melcrum on employee engagement. I guess it’s a bit ‘counter-intuitive’ for your average company, where employee ‘involvement’ usually means rounding everyone up around the Plasma screen. 

Communication approaches that look to involve employees in conversations about what the business is trying to achieve, rather than simply “cascading” information from the top down, are gaining interest. This is one of the findings of a recent global survey of how organizations are approaching employee engagement, published in Melcrum’s new ‘Practitioner’s Guide, Essential Techniques for Employee Engagement’. The survey asked communication and HR practitioners around the globe to indicate which engagement techniques their organizations currently use. Each of the four most popular techniques – described in depth in the new guide – reflect a common desire to make employees part of the communication process, rather than just passive recipients of messages from the leadership team.

The four engagement techniques currently favored by organizations are:

* Action teams (55%) – employee teams created to work with leaders to identify engagement goals and develop strategies to achieve them.

* Storytelling (49%) – distilling information about what the company is striving for and how it can get there, into more human and persuasive “stories” that involve employees on a more emotional level.

* Appreciative Inquiry (29%) – a communication approach that encourages employees to work with leaders to envision corporate goals and share ideas on how best to achieve them.

* Message maps (19%) – a messaging approach demanding an in-depth understanding of the audience, their perceptions and attitudes.

Melcrum’s new guide contains chapters by leading experts on each of the techniques, along with key findings from the global study into how organizations are currently approaching employee engagement.

New techniques for more demanding audiences

Internal communicators have increasingly been looking to more interactive and emotive techniques to encourage employees to “go the extra mile”. Melcrum’s latest research suggests that 86% of organizations with employee engagement on the agenda are now using at least one of the four key techniques. “After so much research and honing of practice, good communication departments are skilled at producing clear messages, strong copy and straightforward mission statements and values,” says Tony Quinlan, Principal and Founder at Narrate and one of the expert authors of the new guide. “But neuroscience, psychology and related disciplines show us that people rarely make decisions on the basis of rational analysis of data at the best of times.” In addition, technological advances and socio-economic fluctuations have made audiences all the more demanding. “People have far greater access to information than ever before and more ways of expressing their own opinions,” Quinlan adds. “They’re no longer willing to take at face value what’s being told to them by the organization. They can be skeptical and cynical when it comes to the everyday volley of messages that leadership, managers and internal communicators send them.”

Key findings from the global survey

Other interesting findings to emerge from Melcrum’s latest global research
into employee engagement include:

* Around 81% of organizations worldwide now have employee engagement on the agenda.
* A quarter of organizations address engagement through a formal engagement program, while 54% treat engagement as part of a general philosophy incorporated into overall people practices.
* Employee engagement programs in 40% of organizations worldwide are overseen primarily by HR, while for 27%, internal communication is the key function.

A full summary of survey findings can be downloaded at:
http://www.melcrum.com/offer/etee/surveysummary.pdf