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Design to Connect

Using Employee Experience Design to Connect with Staff

Imagine a world in which everyone was as happy to go to work as they were to head off to the shopping centre to buy something they really wanted.

Imagine a world in which people felt as fierce a sense of devotion to their employer as they do to their brand of phone or laptop computer.

Imagine a world in which walking into the office to greet your colleagues felt at least something like walking in the front door of your home to greet your family.

All of us are consumers and family members. We are also employees, employers, colleagues and bosses. Which hat we wear merely depends on where we are, at what time. In that case, surely there should be a single mode of communication that resonates with us across all environments?


Not all Workplace Communication is the Same

As it turns out, like most things in life, it’s not that simple. We’re complicated creatures, we humans. Not only are we capable of switching modes and communicating in vastly differing ways depending on the context, but we need that dichotomy. Our brains operate like filing cabinets. When we’re dealing with one topic, we tend to open that filing cabinet. When it’s time to move onto the next mode, we close that file and open another. This tendency varies from person to person. However, it’s a basic, undeniable fact of human nature. Take a moment to consider your own behaviour. Think about the way you speak and act around your family, your friends, your workmates, your clients, or if you’re shopping at a store. With precious few exceptions most of us would have to admit that there are at least subtle, if not drastic differences to our demeanour in each domain.

However, when it comes to internal communications in the workplace, far too many organisations fail to make that distinction. Marketing is marketing, right? Regardless of your job description, it shouldn’t make any difference?


This way of thinking is, at least in part, why so many people feel disengaged with their workplaces.


What is Employee Engagement and Why is it Important?

We could give you a textbook definition of employee engagement. However, you don’t need us for that. Large corporations pay slick consultants obscene sums to spit out jargon and buzzwords that more often than not contribute little. Instead, given that engagement is an emotion, let’s discuss how it feels:

  • An engaged employee feels like his or her presence at, and contribution to, the organisation is valued and appreciated.
  • An engaged employee feels protected, nurtured and motivated in the workplace.
  • An engaged employee feels a strong sense of loyalty to their company because he or she knows that the company has got their back.
  • An engaged employee feels comfortable sharing ideas, problems, feelings, frustration and achievements with their superiors and colleagues.
  • An engaged employee feels just as focused on the success of the organisation as they are on their own gain, if not more so.
  • An engaged employee feels just as happy to do the parts of their job that they dislike, or cover for a colleague, as they do to perform their favoured tasks.

We could go on, but you probably get the picture.

At this point, it should be a bit of a “no brainer” as to why this is all important. Engaged, happy, confident employees are, beyond any doubt, significantly more productive than their dissatisfied peers. They are more prepared to go the extra mile, cross-pollinate ideas with colleagues and pick up slack wherever required. They bring energy, positivity, openness and purpose to the workplace.

All these things are great for the individual but even better for the organisation in which they work. Businesses with employees that report a high level of engagement perform indisputably better. So, it turns out that making your employees happy is good for your bottom line.

The classic example of this phenomenon is the discount retail giant Costco. For years, they earned the wrath of financial analysts who hammered them for investing heavily in their people when most other corporations are busy cutting wages and perks and laying off staff to make their quarterly numbers. The result? Their bottom line has kept growing and growing, as has their stock price. Those same Wall Street gurus criticising Costco’s employee engagement and relations policies as indulgent and wasteful are most likely buying up their stock as quickly as they can. Make no mistake, what works for a behemoth like Costco will also work for your business, irrespective of size.


The Crucial Role of Design for Employee Engagement

Which brings us back to our initial point about communication. Tone deaf organisations that believe that they can communicate with all of their employees in the same way are making a fatal error. Let’s say that you’re a board member for a multi-national enterprise business and you spoke to your factory crew using the same acronyms and corporate jargon. They’d probably tell you to take a couple of Nurofen and go have a lie down. It would be weird and unnatural.

As an employee, HSE manager or HR manager, the same concept applies. If you want them to feel engaged, you want them to feel connected and, most importantly, you want them to internalise the message that you are transmitting with your internal comms, it is crucial that you speak to them in the right way.

We are visual creatures, and while it might seem counter-intuitive, visual communication is overwhelmingly more important than verbal and written. Experts estimate that up to 93% of all human communication is non-verbal. What this means is that how you say something is a more critical part of getting your message across than what you are saying. That’s not to say that verbal and written communication are unimportant. It’s just that when we couple the right words with well-designed, non-verbal or visual media, the audience are more than twice as likely to retain that information.

Design is a vital part of this equation. We all respond positively on an emotional level to beautiful design and this makes us more receptive to the message that it is trying to convey. This is just as true internally as it is with external marketing. When a company understands its employees and cares enough to put careful thought into the way they design their internal communications, they are not only far more likely to get their message across, they will also do so in a way that makes employees feel valued and cared for.


Designing for safety

Contrary to what the stock analysts may think, a company’s primary responsibility is to its people. We’ve already seen how caring for them improves the bottom line. However, this is no less true when it comes to their physical and mental health and safety. Aside from the obvious costs in lost productivity, Workcover claims or legal actions, a healthy and safe workplace is also hugely beneficial for employee morale. Breathing new life into an existing safety message by truly understanding your audience can make all the difference. It governs how the message applies to your audience, which mediums you should use, the tone of your communication and the creative concept that will have the most cut-through. 

When Jalapeno Creative applied in-depth research into the employees’ mindset and paired that with our market leading design capabilities, we found that the same message, presented in a creative and visually attractive way, boosted employee engagement and had positive impact when it came to injury frequency rates. 

If your organisation is looking for ways to improve your internal communications and ensure that your important messages are permeating the fabric of the company, then perhaps it is time to speak with Jalapeno Creative. Our superb design team combine the out-of-the-box, creative thinking with consummate aesthetic design sense to deliver solutions that can radically enhance employee engagement, health and safety outcomes and productivity.

Call us today, and we’d love to hear how we can help you achieve that.

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