If you work for an organization that’s big enough, you probably have two types of workers with whom you need to communicate: those at the main office (headquarters) and those at satellite locations, such as call centers, warehouses, or other offices. The last is probably the easiest to engage since they most likely have access to the same communication channels as those at your main offices. The other two can be tricky. Many of them are not in front of computers, and if they are, their access to your communications is purposefully limited to avoid distraction from helping customers.
So what are some of the most effective ways to reach these employees and keep them updated on the corporate messages you need them to absorb? Let’s look at a few.
Most distribution sites or call centers have digital signage either in strategic locations around the building or, at the very least, in break rooms. Since a big ol’ TV screen is always a good way to attract attention, communicators who effectively utilize this technology are more likely to reach their audience. Work with a graphic designer to make your content as dynamic and engaging as possible. Plain text can work, but you want to do your best to attract your employees’ attention. So be dazzling (but not tacky) when possible.
The latest technology is cool and flashy, but sometimes tried-and-true methods can be effective. If your organization doesn’t have digital screens in place, or no budget to invest in them, then see to it you have bulletin boards installed in strategic locations where employees have the most likely chance of seeing them. Make sure you have someone at each location you can trust to update the boards with the latest memos and flyers.
Speaking of tried-and-true methods, another one is the employee newsletter. In today’s world of 24-hour online news, it seems that the idea of a hard copy newsletter might be poo-poo’d. But the fact is that there are many still in the workforce who prefer having a piece of paper that they can read in their hand that. The best thing about newsletters is that you can usually find someone at the satellite locations who is eager to help you put one together. They are often the best source for contributing content that directly impacts their coworkers and will help ensure that the corporate messaging you need to be included is inserted in each edition.
How do most people communicate nowadays? On their phones, of course. More and more businesses are using text messages to reach their customers, and they’re catching on to the fact that they can use this method to reach their employees just as easily. It’s not a good idea to text a full article about new leadership in the Operations department. Rather, text messages should be confined to weather updates (and office closures), reminders about events such as a blood drive, deadlines for open enrollment, etc. In addition, rather than become engaged, your staff will more likely become annoyed if you text their phones too frequently. So be smart about how you communicate with them in this fashion.
Manager Communication Toolkits
Many times, the only connection between communicators and satellite employees are the managers. They’re the ones who face the workers on a daily basis, hold daily huddles, and check up on them regularly. When you provide them with comprehensive materials – talking points, FAQs, etc – you give yourself one of the best opportunities to disseminate information. If you feel like you’re not getting a concerted effort from satellite management, consider advocating that Human Resources make communication to staff part of their annual reviews. It might sound harsh, but in today’s corporate world, engagement is so essential that you might need a bit of official support to help achieve your goals.
It might seem weird or a even a little intrusive, but some organizations have set up Facebook groups exclusive to employees. It’s a good substitute if your internal channels are a bit lacking when it comes to reaching satellite workers. One example might be to set up an Acme Corp. Warehouse Staff Update and Discussion Group, in which you can post news and useful information for employees and let them ask questions or offer feedback regarding the company, their work environment, etc. If you go this route, make sure you or someone on your team is monitoring the questions and comments every day and addressing them so that these staff members don’t feel dismissed.
I’m sure plenty of you have had to find ways to communicate regularly and effectively with employees at outside locations. What’s worked best for you? What have been some of the challenges? Let us know in the Comment section below.
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