There’s an old sales joke, many actually, about the difference between how a prospect and a client are treated. Having been both, I am here to report that there is some truth in these humorous accounts of prospects being wined and dined while existing clients are being ignored while left on hold for extended periods. Let’s think about this for a moment, but let’s replace client with employee. The difference being that employee prospects do not get wined and dined. There is no secret that the recruitment process is broken. Sluggish online application processes that are poorly programmed and not maintained have made the job search a deflating, depressing, and often unrewarding experience. This is the high cost of job entry. If successful through the recruitment process, new employees have most likely already had a bad experience, and yet we want our employees to be advocates and indirect outside sales reps for our company.
Once the hiring process is complete, the employee moves through the onboarding and orientation process. I will just leave you to recall the last orientation experience you had. I hope it was a good one, but if it was, you are outside of the norm.
The point here is that once you have an employee in place, there is a high likelihood that you need to undertake a recognizance mission to regain their trust and reawaken their career passion. While this may seem like a daunting and impossible task, communication is a key component and publishing an employee newsletter is a great way to communicate with your employee community.
With that in mind, here are five key pieces of information to consider, with an added bonus of what to avoid.
1. The corporate elevator pitch
Every employee should be able to recite a corporate elevator pitch. Armstrong and Miller captured it well in their comedy skit about people not knowing what it is that their employer does. While it may be an exaggeration, it is a sad reality that most employees cannot recite their employers’ key strategic objectives. Every employee should be educated to deliver a quick elevator pitch that is representative of the organization. Consider including a section that is devoted to what is important to the organization today. The information needs to be current. Political and economic climates change with the weather and our objectives need to reflect the climate. Think about adding something to bring out the competitive spirit. Have employees submit their version of the elevator pitch of the month and offer a dinner out with one of the key executives as an incentive. Corporations invest heavily in entertaining sales prospects. Yet very little is invested in employees beyond salaries and benefits.
2. Employees are your best form of marketing
Think about the very first question you ask a new acquaintance: “What do you do?” The job we do for pay is no longer just the job we do for pay. It defines who we are and we all like to answer this question. I recently returned from vacation, during which time I was asked several times a day what it is that I do for a living. Don’t miss this incredible opportunity to spread a positive marketing message about your organization. Think of every employee delivering the elevator pitch a few times a week and how far that message will travel.
3. Relationship building
If you can build a strong community of practice within your organization, you will decrease staff turnover. We all want to enjoy the company of those we work with, but most of us do not get the opportunity to get to know our colleagues on a personal basis. One of the most productive and successful companies that I ever had the privilege to do a project with hired employees based on their hobbies and interests in the hopes that working with other like-minded people would build a solid, productive, and long-term team. It worked! Newsletters can contribute to relationship building by featuring employees’ hobbies and interests or having guest contributors for newsletter articles. Avoid the Instagram or Facebook tendencies that make the contributor look like the most amazing traveler/extreme athlete/fashion model/most popular person on the planet that owns six recently renovated houses. Be human and remember that humor sells, especially when we can laugh at ourselves.
All of that aside, and as unusual as it sounds, what works well in a newsletter to get to know your neighbor is WANT ADS! People connecting over a used fishing boat, tent, or a set of golf clubs is a proven way to get to know others within your office based on common hobbies and interests.
4. Upcoming events
I was once surprised in an office corridor as I overheard that a project audit was underway. As a key member of the project management team, one would have thought I would have been privy to this little detail. But I was not, and the project audit was to take place when I was off-site. The juggling of schedules and travel plans turned out to be a very expensive change. Consider a final newsletter page that consists of upcoming events including holidays, parties, project go-live dates, and any event of interest to the organization as an entity.
Are new positions opening up within the company? Did someone leave the organization thereby creating a new opportunity? Advertise the opportunities that exist! Even better, also feature key positions and what it’s like to work in that position. For example, a day in the life of an account executive at MyCorp Inc. Imagine awakening a career goal in a very motivated junior employee and being part of that growth. Remember that the most iconic companies have leaders who were promoted from within.
What to avoid
While the list is long of the amazing information that can be communicated in an employee newsletter, there is an equally long list of mistakes to avoid.
Pages of financials
- Stating the financial positioning of your organization is a good thing. Pages of financials are a yawn.
- Perhaps you just won an important award. In reality, it is a demotivator to employees to show normally unseen executives accepting an award. Consider a corporate celebration or an employee keepsake to mark the occasion.
Stating false objectives
- Employees will notice if you are not walking the talk. Communicate information that is relevant and proven.
Don’t forget about your most important asset
Somewhere in the process of maximizing shareholder value, we have lost sight of how important our employees are, not only to the organization but also to the longevity of the organization. With an employee newsletter, you can keep them in the communication loop and let them know they are a key channel of communication to the industry and other potential recruits. Every employee should know and understand today’s key strategic objectives and corporate challenges.
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