Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Our blog has moved!

Inward's blog has moved! Check out our new blog and website by visiting http://www.inwardconsulting.com/how-we-think/blog/.

Thanks for reading! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Most Companies Don't Have an Employee Engagement Strategy

Advertising Age Online just posted an interesting article that suggests that most companies don't have an employee engagement strategy and that there is a major disconnect between HR and marketing. The article suggests that employee engagement is becoming a major priority for corporations as a result of widespread use of social media, despite not having a solid strategy in place for such activities.

They cite a study conducted by Altimeter Group which says that only 41% of respondents said their companies had a holistic and strategic approach to employee engagement and advocacy. It says, "Marketing is interested in taking employees who are very engaged with the company and brand and empowering them to advocate on the part of the company, especially through the use of social tools. But the vast majority of companies do not have a coherent strategic approach to supporting employee engagement". The report goes on to suggest that one of the biggest problems is lack of coordination between HR and marketing when it comes to employee engagement efforts.

The survey found that HR leads employee engagement initiatives at 41% of the companies while marketing leads these efforts at only 11% of the companies. However, marketing is more involved (47%) than HR (39%) in actual employee engagement efforts. The report continues, "marketing is involved in employee engagement, but it is not leading it. There are so many best practices marketing can bring to the table-understanding the customer experience and customer relationships, and defining those with customer journey maps. HR needs marketing's best practices".

Another major finding in the report suggests that companies lack a culture that supports employee engagement. Only 51% of the respondents said employees clearly understand and support the purpose and mission of the organization and only 45% of respondents said employees have a clear understanding of what they should and should not do on social channels when it comes to company related topics. Furthermore, only 43% of the response said the company's culture has a high level of trust and empowerment that is highly supportive of employee engagement and advocacy.

Here lies the problem. Inward's experience suggests the same patterns. Often HR is generally responsible for employee communications and culture, however, they lack marketing knowledge to bring the initiatives to life in a creative way. On the other hand, marketing professionals understand social media, content management and digital technology but lack employee knowledge and cultural transformation skills.

So the question becomes what can companies do to overcome the challenges of establishing marketing/HR balance and improve employee engagement and advocacy? Here are some ideas that Inward promotes with our clients.

  • Identify a senior executive spokesperson who represents the combined interests of HR and marketing and who is ultimately responsible for employee engagement/advocacy at the senior executive committee level.
  •  Conduct a ChangeFXÒ employee engagement survey at least once a year that measures understanding, alignment and advocacy of the corporate culture, corporate brand values and the mission/vision of the company. Then use the findings to create an effective employee internal brand communications program.
  • Create a cross-functional employee engagement/advocacy committee that meets regularly and is represented by HR, marketing, brand, public affairs, culture and workforce transformation. Assign this committee with actionable objectives/goals, meaningful budgets (funding provided by both HR and marketing), specific timelines and deliverables.
  • Adopt Inward's process and framework that will: 1) make your employees aware of the brand values, 2) teaches and raises their understanding/relevance of the brand values, 3) builds their commitment and changes their behavior and support of the brand values, and 4) recognizes and rewards the employees for taking action and advocating in support of the brand.
  • Be creative. Use experiential communications. Adopt social media techniques and platforms. Start an employee communication dialogue. Use gamification techniques and quizzes. Ask employees for their communication ideas and use them. Celebrate successes. Make your employees heroes. Promote internal blogging and reward them when they do it.

If you would like to learn more about how to create an effective and compelling employee brand engagement program please let us know. Or simply go to our website at www.Inwardconsulting.com and review some of our best practices in case histories.

As we wind down for the year, I would like to wish all of our friends, clients and contacts a wonderful holiday season, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I’m a CEO (but I never learned how to type)

Nearly 10 years ago a client of mine suggested I look at a software program that enables people to dictate into their computer instead of typing or pecking away at the keyboard. I was skeptical, I must admit. Would it be accurate? Would it recognize my voice? Would I spend more time programming and fixing the narrative than actually pecking away? Despite all these questions I was still intrigued.
I vividly remember my sisters who were taught to type in high school in the ‘60s but I myself was never taught how to type properly. In fact, I doubt they even have typing classes any longer. I tried to teach myself using the TypingMaster program on my Apple II E nearly 40 years ago, but my fingers were just too fat and I couldn’t get the hang of it (I know, more excuses). A few weeks after my encounter with my “typing-free” client, I met the CMO of Nuance software, Peter Mahoney, by coincidence at a professional networking event. We sat next to each other over dinner and had a revealing and stimulating conversation about the benefits of his software, Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and how it was integrating into business all over the place. At the end of the evening he offered to send me a demonstration copy of the software and a headphone for me to try out. I graciously accepted his offer.
Now, I am not a technology guru by any means, but I unpacked the software, installed it quite easily and started dictating right way. At first it was admittedly a little clunky. I had to repeat words and the software was not able to recognize my voice properly. I emailed my new friend Peter who offered to have one of their technicians properly install the software on my computer. It turned out I just needed a better microphone headset (which they sent me immediately). Some more brief tech modifications and off I was, dictating away.
That was nearly 10 years ago and I still meet with Peter once a quarter for breakfast just to catch up and share stories. Each time we meet I can’t stop singing the praises of Dragon NaturallySpeaking software. Sure, there were little glitches from time to time when my computer went through software upgrades, but with a couple patches and support from their tech center I was quickly back to speed and on my way to effortless and accurate dictation.
Here are the five top reasons why I love Dragon NaturallySpeaking software:
1. It’s fun. I’ve been able to train my mind to be more creative and think innovatively without having to look at my keyboard and think about everything I’m going to say. My ideas are sharper and thoughts are better thought out.
2. Increased speed. I can talk a lot faster than I could ever type and as a result my day is much more productive, enables me to produce better and fresh ideas on-the-fly.
3. No more procrastination. In the past I would put off writing things out because it would just take too long in longhand. Now I just put on my headset and start talking without any hesitation.
4. Better expression. I’ve always been able to express myself orally rather than writing things down. For instance, if you would give me an assignment and ask me to explain it orally and then ask me to write down the same thought, the oral presentation would be a lot more compelling and interesting. It’s just how my mind works.
5. More engaged. Now that I am no longer burdened by my typing fears I’m able to become fully immersed in my work and focus on what really matters. In turn, being more engaged fuels my passion and creativity, allowing me to work harder and smarter.

As an employee brand engagement consulting firm our company promotes the idea that people should become more engaged by changing their behavior to support their brand’s values. Well, I’ve found that using Dragon NaturallySpeaking for business does indeed enable people’s behavior to focus on the things that matter most, such as supporting the customer and generating revenue and profitability; less time is spent on the mechanics of replying to emails and drafting briefs and more is spent on delivering value to the customer. After all, isn’t that what’s most important?
Dictated using Dragon NaturallySpeaking for the PC.

This post originally appeared on Nuance’s What’s next blog.