colleague attention

Internal communications has to compete against a lot to reach its core audience, whether it’s because colleagues are faced with tough targets and tight deadlines, or because they are out in the field and difficult to reach.

However, as people continue to work from home during the national lockdown, is the latest internal communications trend of treating colleagues as customers the best way to get their attention outside of the office?

Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

Every day we are overwhelmed with demands for our attention. According to the average person sees 4,000 to 10,000 adverts a day. This includes what we see on TV, on the web, and in print, product branding, food labels and product placement.

This equates to thousands of individual requests to be seen, understood, heard and desired. I confess that I am a regular second-screener. While watching TV I flick through my favourite social media sites on my phone – occasionally leaning over to show my wife something funny before she points out that I’m only seeing it because she’s the one that shared it. I’ve got so many devices on the go that when I get an alert my laptop, tablet, mobile and watch all chime in unison.

We’re all distracted, and it’s a well-established idea that marketers must work hard for every second of attention they get from us as potential customers. As many of us our bringing our work-selves to where traditionally we would be more comfortable as our consumer-selves (the home), what is distracting us is different to what we’d experience in the office. As a result, we need to fight for colleague attention in different ways too.

Three ways to attract your colleagues like customers

  1. Give the [colleague] what they want

We spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to position our businesses to meet customer needs, expectations and demands – but how often do we say ‘that’s just the way we do it’ to colleagues?

As an industry we’re pretty good at running colleague surveys – but how often do we learn from them to communicate on their terms, on their devices, through their preferred channels, at the times to suit them? As working patterns are currently fluid and flexible, now is the time to make those changes.

  1. The [colleague] knows best

There’s a common saying in baseball that I learned from Stephen King. In short, the idea is when the runner and the fielder both touch base at the same time, the tie goes to the runner. He goes on to state that when a writer gets conflicting opinions about his writing, the tie goes to the writer.

However, when we’re confronted by the (arguably inevitable) differences in opinion between colleagues and customers, does the tie go to the colleague? Perhaps it should, and we should bring these stories to light so that others feel this support at their backs.

  1. We should surprise and delight our [colleagues]

How often are colleagues asked to go above and beyond for our customers. Going the extra mile has become standard, and customers expect to be treated well whether it’s at the drive-thru or the Ritz Carlton hotel.

And I think it’s time to turn that lens inwards, and surprise and delight our colleagues. Events-based communication was on the rise before the national lockdown, but doesn’t have to stop because of it. Through virtual town halls, home delivery, reward and recognition, we can keep a sense of experience for colleagues, and go the extra mile for them too.

Without its people, a company is nothing. Its processes, technology, machines and intellectual property will sit on the shelf, doing nothing at all.

So I say let’s give the power to our people. Let’s put our colleagues first. And let’s make this the new internal communications trend of 2020 – because from what I’ve seen and heard in the past six months, they truly deserve it.