By: Sarah Kyo
The workplace diversity of your team likely consists of various backgrounds, experiences, mindsets, roles, and other characteristics. Everyone is at different stages of the employee lifecycle – for example, the way you communicate with a new hire is different than how you’d connect with a long-time team member. Plus, your organization may have multiple departments that work in different offices, locations, and time zones.
Your individual employees bring unique ideas and perspectives to your organization. Each person also receives and interprets information differently. That’s why when it comes to your change communications, a one-size-fits-all approach lacks the effectiveness you need to maximize your messaging’s reach.
Audience Segmentation and Why It Matters
Knowing your audience and allowing for some degree of personalization in your communication are key for reaching a diverse audience. While it would be time-consuming and challenging to compose a custom message for every single employee, there are ways to target your message to specific groups.
GuideSpark co-founder and CEO Keith Kitani used an example of trying to understand what millennials and baby boomers want in their workplace environment. Recognizing generational views is one way of creating a sense of connection.
“It’s about trying to understand those groups and finding ways to personalize that experience for them,” Kitani said in a recent interview with DiversityQ. “If it’s relevant to me, I feel more included.”
Customizing messaging across generations in the workforce is an example of audience segmentation, or separating your audience into homogenous subgroups based off of shared demographic, psychological, and behavioral variables. This concept has traditionally been implemented in external communications, advertising, and marketing to tailor messages to specific groups of people. A similar method can also be used in your internal communications in order to increase engagement, improve alignment, accelerate program adoption, build trust, and drive change among your employees.
By leveraging data, you can segment your internal audience into groups that make sense for the goals you’re trying to accomplish and what message you’re trying to communicate. For instance, let’s say that you’d like to announce updates to your equity programs, but only senior leaders qualify for additional long-term incentives. In this situation, it would make sense to segment your audience into subgroups based on whether they qualify for those incentives or not. Senior leaders would receive content and communication that mentions their additional equity awards, while other groups would just learn more about their eligible awards.
Diverse Workforce Communication Case Study: Essilor
Segmenting your audience can be helpful for your dispersed workforce if different office locations have different benefits. For example, French optical lens company Essilor has 8,500 U.S.-based employees across 120 offices who work in corporate, manufacturing, and lab roles. Additionally, a notable percentage of their workforce speaks Spanish as their primary language. The company needed to find an effective way to educate their diverse employees on benefits and then inspire them to actively enroll on time.
“Only about 10 percent of employees read the benefit materials we sent out to them, so we decided to ‘go digital’ for open enrollment,” said Ryan Murray, director of benefits at Essilor.
After unsuccessfully trying traditional HR communication methods, such as paper benefit guides and in-person presentations, Essilor decided to use engaging animated videos, infographics, and other digital media that communicated specific benefit information for each office subgroup in both English and Spanish. With guidance from a communication strategist, they used GuideSpark Communicate Cloud® – a cloud-based employee and change communications platform – to create four-week campaigns with customized emails, postcard mailers, and digital posters with SMS codes for employees to access the educational digital media. Because of this personalized, multi-channel approach, 96 percent of employees accessed the content, and 98 percent of employees actively enrolled in benefits during open enrollment.
5 Steps to Reach Your Diverse Workforce
Now that you have a better understanding of why connecting with a diverse workforce is crucial for your business, here are ways you can successfully utilize this practice for your organization:
1. Build a plan driven by employee motivation and understanding
During the planning stage, identify your goals, and segment your audience to line up with the initiative. This includes using your employees’ preferred channels for distributing the messages. For example, frontline manufacturing workers might prefer text messages, postcards, or strategically placed posters, while corporate employees might prefer emails or Slack.
2. Reinforce your message with a series of communications
According to a recent IDC report, corporate culture and performance communications are most successful when messaging is sent as a series with an introduction and followed by continuous reinforcement. In fact, employees tended to believe most corporate emails are part of a series, even though that was only the case for 40 percent of messages. By intentionally creating email campaigns for an initiative, you can reiterate your messaging while inspiring your audience to act.
3. Avoid communication overload
Otherwise, employees may think your email is spam and ignore it. According to the same IDC report, employees consider 40 percent of 50 corporate emails sent per day to their inboxes as unimportant. Most of those emails are routed directly to the trash folder via email rules. If your message is time sensitive or has a call to action, make sure it’s clearly communicated in the email subject line and body. That way employees can more easily distinguish it from an informational message.
4. Track your performance
Creating content and messaging is only part of what it takes to communicate effectively. Use analytics for measuring the success of your messaging. Perhaps your employees tend to review emails during a certain time of day, or a specific audience segment seems to commonly access your digital content via text messaging. Review this data and make adjustments to your strategy and execution as needed.
5. Gather feedback
Include polls and sentiment ratings to review employee engagement. These tools can be included with your digital content, and you can also create a survey for the end of the campaign. Based on what resonates most with certain employee groups, use this feedback to iterate on future campaigns for similar audience segments.
While it’s challenging to create a one-on-one experience for every employee, especially at a large, diverse entity, you should still strive for some level of personalization in your communications. This helps employees feel more understood, inspiring them to develop a deeper connection with their organization. Not only will the messaging better resonate with employees, but they’ll be more likely to follow through and act.