By Donald R. Sanford, principal, Communications, Buck Consultants, A Xerox Company
Welcome to the New World of communication, where:
- 44 percent of cellphone owners have slept with their device to not miss calls, text messages or updates.
- 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
- 500 million people are registered on Twitter and half of them log on every day.
Technologies have changed how humans communicate. Some people gravitate to “golden oldies” like newsletters, flyers and posters. Others, who append electronics to their being, use “in-your-hand” devices for information. How can organizations unleash the power of new tools to engage their workforce?
Here are the Top 5 high tech tools companies are using.
Social Networking and Social Media
‘Friending’ employees to share internal information
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter* and YouTube have huge followings. Facebook has more than 1.1 billion active users. If it were a country, Facebook would be the third largest in the world, behind only China and India.
Given this popularity, what should businesses do? Play off this success to reach employees.
A WorldatWork-Buck Consultants survey studied how companies talk to their employees about health benefits and found that 50 percent of organizations use one or more social networking/social media elements to promote health engagement. It takes more than an if-you-build-it-they-will-come approach. A Facebook-like platform with cool tools and varied content entices employees. Add interactive functions, short news feeds, fun facts and provocative messaging to involve them.
Mobile Technology and Apps
There’s an app for that (or there will be)!
Of the world’s 7 billion people, 6 billion have access to mobile phones, tablets or other wireless devices. In the United States, 91 percent of adults have a cellphone, and 56 percent of them are smartphones. Other statistics reveal our addictions: People check their phones every 6.5 minutes; more smartphones are activated each day than babies born; and the average number of apps per smartphone is 41.
The WorldatWork-Buck Consultants survey portends seismic change:
- 36 percent of employers use 1 or more mobile technology tools to promote health engagement.
- Another 36 percent will follow suit this year.
- 32 percent use mobile technology for health-care benefits, such as prescription refills and apps from insurers.
- 52 percent more will do so in the next 3 years.
Apps connect you with your mobile workers. They put resources at your employees’ fingertips, anytime and anywhere. Consider offering customized apps that model retirement savings, provide access to your intranet or offer information about co pays and medication coverage; and generic apps that link employees to plan documents, company policies and annual enrollment guides.
‘Games lubricate the body and the mind’ ─ Benjamin Franklin
Gamification is the use of game-like features in nongame situations. Techniques include contests, and elements such as lotteries, quizzes, points, leaderboards and avatars.
Games appeal to our desire to have fun, self-express and compete. No wonder employers embrace them. Per WorldatWork-Buck, 62 percent of employers use one or more games to promote employee health engagement. Another 31 percent will join the fold this year. Do the math!
Here’s a mind-boggler: When they graduate high school, some U.S. teenagers have put in 20,000 gaming hours. Attracting sophisticated users to crossword puzzles, Hangman, teasers and tests of knowledge requires bells and whistles. Insert whimsical graphics, music, sound effects, playful content and concepts. Mix it up; keep it fresh with a big inventory of revolving Q&As. Expectations are high; the return on your investment can be, too.
‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ resonates with today’s workforce
When USA Today appeared in 1982, it offered something revolutionary. Infographics = information + graphics, data + knowledge at a glance.
Infographics are bold and beautiful. They’re clever. They’re an “easy read.”
A blitz of technologies has opened this opportunity to organizations. Infographics lay out complex concepts and content in chunks. They offer eye-catching alternatives to content-laden materials. They attract attention and promote understanding.
Optimize infographics for sparkle. Change the shape and size of pieces to make them stand out. If mailing infographics-documents, use clear envelopes for recipients to immediately see and seize the content. Liberally apply color and combinations; keep the content crisp and sharp.
Updated: Newsletters, Posters, Postcards, Print
Everything old is new again, if done correctly
“Golden oldies” have survived the test of time. Postcards and posters are still useful to broadcast events, reinforce awareness and promote key messages.
But in the last 10 years, the print volume used for employee communications has decreased by 50 percent. It hasn’t necessarily gone away, it’s just gone elsewhere.
First to disappear were dinosaur-like resource tomes. They’ve been reincarnated online. Internal newsletters and magazines tend to share this fate. The online breed likely resembles its print ancestors with pages that flip. Even printed pieces can be personalized via high tech digital presses. With interesting incentives, employees will visit websites and other venues to read content.
Decide what will work best for your audience. Don’t be afraid to experiment, and don’t think you have to change overnight. Evolutions can be more successful than revolutions.
What you can do
High tech tools make our lives richer. When introducing them in the workplace, stay tuned and attuned. Embrace the new. “Mix and match” these tools. Most of all, do it now. The results will be remarkable.
This post originally appeared on Forbes.
*Updated November 21, 2017.