They might spend their workdays in airports and rental cars, or working the floors of manufacturing plants, print shops and retail stores. They could be tethered via headset to a phone system where the calls never stop, or untethered from the company entirely, working from home offices and coffee shops.
We call them your Unreachables – those pockets of hard-to-target employees. Their contributions are critical to your company’s success, but their roles make them difficult to reach and engage through communications.
Further complicating matters, your Unreachables may be paid on commission, hourly or on some other productivity measure – incentive plans that conflict with the time required to read lengthy communications from the c-suite or participate in a town hall.
So, how do you get your Unreachables better connected to your organization’s vision and direction? Here are a few ideas to get started.
Walk a mile in their shoes. Understand everything you can about your company’s hard-to-reach employees, then build a communication profile of your audience. What’s their average tenure with the company? Where do they hear about company news first – Google alerts or chatty co-workers? What’s the culture of their location/team?
Surveys are a great first step, but face-to-face focus groups and site visits are better. If your Unreachables are always on the warehouse floor or on service calls, shadow them for a shift or orchestrate a ride-along for the day. When do these employees have time to interact with your communications? How would they prefer to receive information?
Engage the top. Create a communications ally by working with the appropriate business unit leader or manager of your Unreachables. What goals and expectations has she set for her team? How and when does she communicate with them? What does she consider to be the most critical information they need? This leader likely plays the role of gatekeeper for his virtual or isolated team, and your efforts will be more effective by working with her and within her team’s structure and processes.
Flip the script. If information usually flows one way – from corporate teams to your hard-to-reach employees – find appropriate instances to reverse the direction and show your commitment to getting them involved. Instead of simply informing employees of a new strategy, ask for their input in bringing it to life. Have them share their best practices with executives. Also, consider broadcasting the next all-company meeting from a warehouse or call center instead of company headquarters. Nothing says “you’re important to this company” like a meaningful visit from the top-of-the-house.
Get creative. Chances are, communicating with your Unreachables will require alternative communication methods – from a return to old-school techniques to an investment in new ones. Be open to this from the beginning, and remember that – with a little ingenuity – the solutions don’t have to be outrageously expensive or time-consuming. Be ready to make tweaks, improvements and additions to your existing communications strategy.
(c) ROCKdotVOSS 2019