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The Right Information at the Right Time: Making Sense of Engagement Communication

The world has changed radically, not only in terms of communication channels and choices, but also in the amount of clutter organizations must overcome in order to break through

The sea change in communication that has occurred as a result of the Internet and social networking has shifted the power from the communicator to the recipient.

One of the most important and overlooked components of incentive and recognition program implementation is communication. In order to maximize engagement, research indicates that communication is one of a half-dozen or so elements critical to improving performance through people – along with assessment, goal-setting, learning strategies, collaboration, rewards & recognition and measurement.

Too often, organizations place too much focus on the reward and not enough on other critical components. You have a greater chance of turning a traditional incentive and recognition effort into a successful engagement program by incorporating all of the elements that connect engagement to performance.

Thanks to rapid changes in technology and wide variations on how people of different “workplace generations” interact today, the issue of communication has become more complicated than ever before. That said, it has also become far less expensive than in the past. The cost of almost everything related to communications – the Internet, email, social networking, printing, videos, meetings, promotional products, etc. – has gone down, not up, over the last decade.

Depending on your program’s target audience – external customers, channel partners, internal employees, suppliers – you’ll face numerous obstacles just getting people to engage with your various communications. Obviously, the challenge is greatest with external audiences – particularly non-customers or barely engaged distribution partners – who have little reason to listen unless your organization has something compelling to say and you manage to reach them. Communicating with customers is a little easier because they’ve bought something, and easier still with employees and vendors because they depend on your organization for employment or business.

Critical Questions

Here are the big questions to ask before implementing a communication strategy for your incentive recognition, or engagement program.

  1. What are the program objectives and how will your communication strategy and tactics affect results?
  2. Who is the audience? Is it consumers, channel partners, employees, vendors, your community, or all of the above? What are their demographics in terms of age and education? What are the most likely ways to reach them in terms of media?
  3. What do you need to communicate? What does the individual need to know in order to accomplish the desired goal? What information will make them receptive to your communications?
  4. How will you communicate? Based on the answers to the first set of questions above, and your organization’s resources, what media make sense?
  5. How will you assess results? What types of surveys or tests will you employ to identify the impact of your communication strategy?

Basic Principles

Of course, it’s one thing to communicate; it’s another to make it so that people internalize your messages and apply them to whatever activity you’re seeking to engage them in. Here are some basic principles of communication that apply to all engagement, rewards & recognition and incentive programs. 

Generational Issues

It’s tempting for the sake of simplicity to put people into generational “buckets,” especially in this era of social networking and mobile applications. But that can sometimes lead to dangerous assumptions. It’s best to keep an open mind as to how people best like to communicate, not only via media, but in terms of tone.

That said, it’s important to note a sea change in communication that has occurred as a result of the Internet and social networking which has shifted the power from the communicator to the recipient of communication. People can now more closely control from whom and how they wish to receive communications, and they can call out or rally behind organizations in a way that has effectively leveled the communication playing field.

This shift of power to the consumers of information – be they external or internal audiences – has forced organizations to:

Talking Tactics

One of the big risks in communication is getting too focused on the tactics rather than how those tactics best work together. Here’s a quick refresher of the different forms of communication that can be applied in an incentive, recognition, or engagement program – with a warning to make sure whatever your choices are to keep it simple, informative, honest and open.

Electronic Communication
While there remain many audiences with relatively little time to spend online, the Internet has transformed the process of implementing incentive, recognition and engagement programs.

Print
With the amount of electronic clutter bombarding the average consumer these days and a large contingent of highly mobile workers with little time for regular Internet use, print remains a critical part of an integrated communications strategy.

Digital

Face to Face
No media matches the power of getting in front of or, better yet, mingling with your target audience, either individually or in groups.

Three-Dimensional Communication
Never overlook the potential for the right items to help convey a message, express appreciation, and add a little fun to the workplace.

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CA Short

EGR International Inc.

Marriott Bloomington-Normal

McBassi

Canon