It’s that time of year again. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Pies cooling on the counter. And cookies baking in the oven. Gingerbread, chocolate chip, biscotti, or shortbread — whatever your cookie of choice, getting the recipe just right takes commitment, precision, and passion.
Getting your annual communication strategy just right is no different.
A cup of commitment
Commitment is critical to any communication strategy. You’ve got to be fully committed to the creation of your strategy and to ongoing, faithful execution (with room for flexibility, of course!).
To develop your annual communication strategy, start with context. Think through your work environment as well as broader business and social environments. If you want your messages to land, you need to ask yourself what your employees are thinking about and experiencing. Are they heading back to the office after years or months away? Has your industry or business recently changed? Are your employees struggling to balance work and life?
Next, consider your broad and specific objectives. What are you trying to accomplish? Is this year all about well-being? Diversity and inclusion? Are you trying to increase utilization of high-priority benefits? What do you want employees to know, feel, and do this upcoming year? And don’t stop there — be sure to decide on metrics so you know exactly how you’ll measure success.
Finally, document your specific tactics and timing by audience. These should be an outgrowth of the context you uncovered and your objectives. Think about broad communication that all employees will receive as well as targeted communication to support your objectives.
Let’s be honest — this is the hard part. Documenting your strategy takes time and energy but sticking to it is the true test of your commitment. Of course, you need to be flexible and adjust your strategy to account for new context and goals, but you want to finish the year knowing that you moved the needle on your objectives. And your strategy is what’s going to get you there!
A tablespoon of precision
At PartnerComm, we’re big believers in using data and behavioral science to support our communication efforts. Whenever possible, our strategies are informed by data from previous years. Here’s a quick example: If we want to drive utilization of a specific benefit, we’re not going to pick a target out of thin air. We’re going to look at utilization patterns over the last few years. And, if we have the data, we’re going to dive even deeper and examine the qualities and characteristics of people who have used the benefit. Is it mainly single employees? People in their 40s? Employees approaching retirement? Once we understand what draws people to a benefit, we can design broad and targeted messaging that captures attention and persuades others.
When it comes to behavioral science, we rely on the expertise of our in-house behavioral scientist who helps us apply the principles of her field to the world of communication. Targeted communication is a great example. We want to apply the right dose of intervention at the right time to influence employee behaviors.
Imagine you’re launching a new benefit. Do you need to bombard everyone with a series of emails? Or can you tailor the pathway so employees who don’t take desired actions get more communication intervention? That’s just one way we apply behavioral science to our work to achieve better outcomes!
A dash of passion
Anything worth doing is worth doing with passion. Employee communication should feel authentic and exciting. How can you amp up the passion in your communication mix this year? Think about:
- Testimonials and stories. You can write about your new inclusive fertility benefit, or you can film an employee talking about their personal experience with the benefit. The second approach will create an emotional connection and, ultimately, be more persuasive.
- Fame or fortune. Employees love being recognized for their good work. If there are behaviors you want to encourage, try rewarding employees who exhibit those behaviors with fame (think a blog post about them or a virtual lunch with an exec) or fortune (prizes like company swag and hot products) to generate goodwill … and big buzz.
- Emphasizing inclusivity and belonging. Every single employee should feel welcome and supported every single day at work. Turn up the volume on belonging this year by creating or further supporting Employee Resource Groups, educating employees about important calendar observances like Black History Month, reviewing your recruiting and new hire process, and more.
That’s our recipe for a successful annual communication strategy! And here’s our favorite gingerbread recipe generously provided by the grandmother of one of our all-star artists. Happy holiday season and enjoy!
1 c. shortening
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. molasses
2 T. vinegar
5 c. all-purpose flour (sifted)
1 ½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
2–3 t. ground ginger
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. cloves
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cream shortening and sugar.
- Beat in egg, molasses, and vinegar.
- Sift dry ingredients together. Blend in.
- Chill dough for three hours.
- Roll dough 1/8-inch thick on a lightly floured surface.
- Cut in shapes.
- Place cookies 1 inch apart on a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 5–6 minutes.
Yield: 2 dozen large cookies.