5 Reasons why your employee engagement campaign failed05 July 2018
Why do employee engagement campaigns fail?
Carl Sagan once said, while attempting to slice an apple enough times to locate an individual atom, “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”
Few scientists ever engaged with an audience as effectively as Sagan did. He explained complex ideas in a simple, creative and emotional manner.
And while few can hope to equal or surpass great communicators like Carl Sagan, there are several pitfalls we can wisely step around to avoid communicating irrelevancies.
Emily Wilson, Communications Manager at Bright Innovation, says:
“I think employee engagement hinges on the simple question, ‘is it relevant?’. You have to try to engage people with something that they need to know, that helps them do their job, or they are interested in.”
Ultimately, engagement is an act of volition. An employee may not be able to avoid hearing a message, but they can certainly choose whether they want to engage with it. This is where so many employee engagement campaigns fail – forgetting to jump over to the other side of the fence and ask: “Why would I sit up and pay attention here?”.
Here are a few key points of failure, replicated all too often in employee engagement campaigns. Dodge these and you may just deliver successfully:
1. Complicated language
Your employees are human beings, not vending machines. And they will not engage with your campaign if it employs complex, jargon-riddled language. Talk to your audience in clear and plain language – and connect emotionally with them as individuals.
2. No one cares
There is a big difference between an employee who does something because they are ‘told to’, and one who does it because they are engaged and motivated. When crafting employee communications put yourself in their shoes and ask: “Why should I care?”. Ensure your messaging addresses the real needs of the target audience by plainly telling them how it will impact them and what they need to do. If an employee understands why it’s important – they are more likely to comply and be engaged.
3. A voiceless workforce
You should foster a culture whereby employees are listened to and feel empowered to speak up and challenge ideas – no matter what their role.
Martin Leggett, Head of Strategy and Behavioural Change at The Security Company (International) Limited, says
“Don’t speak, but listen. Once your employees understand their voice counts the door is opened to truly constructive engagement.”
4. A lack of visible leadership
If the leadership team isn’t promoting your campaign and the role it plays in achieving company goals, how can you expect your employees to take an interest? Ensure your leadership team understands the campaign and is happy to champion its message.
5. It doesn’t stand out
We are used to being bombarded by communications from every direction – whether we are getting on a bus, driving along the motorway, browsing in a shop or reading a restaurant menu. Our senses are perpetually immersed in a constant ‘data din’. You can ensure your campaign stands out from the background noise by delivering an original, creative and personal approach – that your audience can readily relate to.
No universe? Then no apple pie…
Don’t rush into launching your employee engagement campaign. Do your research, listen to your employees, engage your leadership team – and stand out.
It’s also important to learn from your mistakes.
Frank Dias, Communications Business Partner at Lloyds, says:
“Failing isn’t a bad thing. It’s a major part of learning. As long as you’re learning from campaigns that don’t go so well, feed the insight back into your future campaigns.”
Remember, while you may not need a whole universe to make your apple pie, there are some essential ingredients you simply cannot do without.