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Jul 11, 2019

Approx. 10 min. read

Employee Experience: Melinda Morella-Olson on How to Connect with Your Employees

Employee experience is one of the top HR priorities for most companies. And that’s not surprising that businesses are putting effort into delivering...

employee-experience-how-to-connect-with-employees

Employee experience is one of the top HR priorities for most companies. And that’s not surprising that businesses are putting effort into delivering an amazing employee experience.

The way employees feel at work has a great impact on their motivation, productivity, well-being, and loyalty.

The Corporate Leadership Council found that employees who are highly engaged are 87% less likely to leave their companies than their less engaged colleagues.

💡Download our free eBook "How to Boost Employee Engagement with Communication Tools" where we share actionable tips to help you improve employee engagement at your workplace! 

If you want to improve the employee experience you’re delivering, you’ll need to rethink your internal communication.

Your ability to communicate your company’s mission statement, to connect with your employees, and to empower them will have a tremendous impact on the way your employees feel at work.

We had a chat on that topic with Melinda Morella-Olson, Director of strategic engagement at Imaginasium:

Hi Melinda, can you tell us a bit about yourself, what’s your story?

Thanks for the chat! So, I’ve had a pretty unconventional career path with the opportunity to serve in roles in education, non-profit, community health, and now, marketing.

employee-experience-in-the workplace- nterview with melinda morella olson
In my role at Imaginasium, I get to use my love of community, meeting new people and making connections to meet new clients and help them understand their brand challenges and see if Imaginasium’s services might align with their goals.

 

I get to use this same love of relationship-building and community on a variety of boards and committees on which I serve in the Greater Green Bay Area.

Since bringing new people into our community is a huge driver for everything I do, helping employers communicate their brand messages is extremely important to me.

Employee Experience and the Company’s Mission Statement

A survey highlights that 61% of employees don’t know what their company’s mission statement is. How do you explain this lack of information in the workplace?

I think, for the most part, it is completely unintentional when employees don’t know their company’s vision/mission/values.

People usually aren’t trying to be “bad employees” and companies usually aren’t intentionally keeping this important information from their teams. It “just happens.”

Unfortunately, letting things “just happen” is not an effective strategy, especially when it comes to employee engagement.

This lack of intentionality around bringing employees into your company’s vision, mission and values is the beginning of a slippery slope into active disengagement - where employees are busy acting out their unhappiness at work.

And this misalignment with the company’s mission statement may affect the customer experience you’re delivering as you see below:

employee-experience and alignment with-the company mission statement
Source: Imaginasium, 31 Amazing (and a Few Awful) Company Mission Statement Examples You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

 

There are different levels of employee alignment and engagement:

  • The lowest level is being able to recite your company’s vision/mission/values.
  • The next level is being able to translate the vision/mission/values to behaviors that you live every day at work.
  • The highest level the ability to hold yourself and others at the highest standards for living the company’s vision/mission/values.

But this all takes work. First, making sure employees understand the vision/mission/values and their role in delivering on them.

Then, helping them understand how that translates to their day-to-day behaviors and how it affects the customer.

And finally, companies must help employees understand how they can hold themselves and each other to the highest standards.

Defining and communicating the company’s mission statement takes an investment in time, money and resources. Which is why it often gets left behind.

Unfortunately, not engaged and actively disengaged employees can cost companies big time. How much, you ask? According to Gallup, disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity and 15% lower profitability.

When that translates into dollars, you're looking at the cost of 34% of a disengaged employee's annual salary, or $3,400 for every $10,000 they make!

Of course, a company’s vision, mission, and values are only one piece of the culture and employee engagement puzzle.

But if an organization is unconcerned with creating a great work culture, then how should they expect that their employees will be anything but unconcerned about their day-to-day responsibilities?

Employee Experience and Internal Communication

Can you tell us how effective internal communications can help businesses deliver a better employee experience?

We, at Imaginasium, believe that you are wasting your money on marketing if you haven’t done the work to align and engage your employees around the promises you are making to your customers.

Don’t spend money on communicating with your customer if you haven’t considered how you are going to communicate with your employees. Because, ultimately, the customer experience lies in the hands of those very employees.

Related: Why Your Employees Are Missing Out on Important Information

So, companies really need to consider how they are going to communicate with employees for effective engagement.

Companies need to communicate strategically and frequently with employees, sharing messages that are relevant and accessible.

Businesses that don’t communicate in ways that resonate with their workforce will find themselves paying the price in high turnover and a disjointed customer experience.

Indeed, your internal communication is a key pillar of employee engagement:

improving employee experience and engagemen-infographic

Conversely, companies that effectively communicate on a consistent basis with their employees enjoy a more engaged workforce.

This is because when employees are communicated with, they feel connected to the company’s purpose, valued, and become advocates of your brand.

The Role of Two-Way Communication

According to you, why having a two-way communication in place is a great way to build trust in the workplace?

In the absence of information, we, as humans, try to fill in the gaps with our own information. It’s how we’re wired. That is why it is so critically important to share information within an organization.

The default of employees will be to come up with their own version of the story when they are given limited information. Or no information at all.

And these stories grow and fester into gossip, undermining, and other actively disengaged behavior.

Open, honest, and transparent communication is key in building trust in an organization.

This type of two-way communication leads to trust because it shows there is nothing to hide.

internal-communication and employee experience in the workplaceBut this goes beyond simply communicating convenient truths. It involves the courage to get things that are being left unsaid “on top of the table,” so-to-speak, so that fear and doubt have no time to fester.

Clarifying your expectations, expressing your desires, providing and receiving feedback, and being vulnerable when the opportunity arises are all part of being transparent.

Though not easy, this type of transparency is essential to building trust in your organization.

Related: Building a Company Culture that Drives Employee Engagement

In high trust organizations, problems are solved quicker, teams are built faster, with less tension/resistance, people develop deeper relationships with one another, and performance levels are much higher.

And employees who trust organizations they work for are more likely to be engaged in their day-to-day roles.

And we know from Gallup that companies with high employee engagement enjoy increased productivity, profitability, and retention.

Empowering Your Employees Is Key to Improving the Employee Experience You Deliver

What are your best practices for truly empowering employees in the workplace? 

Empowered employees, that are also engaged in their work/role, are also you best brand advocates both for customers and potential recruits.

Most often brands approach advocacy as something they must focus on with customers, overlooking, arguably, their most important audience – their own employees.

Related: Employee Empowerment: Where to Start and How to Do It Right

To become strong, authentic, and lasting brand advocates, employees must first be actively engaged in an organization’s culture and leadership.

Simon Sinek said it best, “When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute.

Here are some great ways to empower your employees:

  • Clearly communicate the company vision, mission, and values.
  • Help employees understand their role in delivering on the promises you are making to your customers.
  • Provide a forum for sharing ideas. Employees at all levels of the organization should be encouraged to share ideas about how the company can improve.
  • Equip employees with information. There’s that internal communication thing again.
  • Assume positive intentions and forgive mistakes.
  • Allow employees the opportunity to stretch their boundaries. Let them take (calculated) risks.
  • Offer flexibility (if possible) in work hours, location, etc.
  • Focus on personal and professional development. Ask employees what and how they would like to learn and grow and put a path forward to get them there.

Related: 3 Reasons to Support Your Employees' Personal Branding

Talent Attraction and Talent Retention

Businesses that manage to connect with their employees are more likely to attract and retain top talent, can you tell us why?

The line between the employee experience and the customer experience is getting smaller and fuzzier.

Employees are beginning to expect their experience with an employer to mirror the experiences they have with their favorite consumer brands.

Those consumer brands work hard to set themselves apart from their competition, connect with their customers on a meaningful, emotional level, and give them a compelling reason to purchase (they offer a strong customer value proposition).

In exactly the same way, employers need to work hard to set themselves apart from other employers, connect with candidates and employees on a meaningful, emotional level, and give job seekers and current staff a compelling reason to choose (or continue to choose) to work for them.

That’s the most powerful way to attract and retain not just a workforce, but a workforce that can give you a competitive advantage.

How do you go about setting yourself apart?

Focus on your employer brand. An employer brand, simply put, is a company’s reputation as an employer and the value it offers to its employees.

It’s how your own employees, candidates, and even the community around you perceive your company as a place to work.

While branding has always been a crucial tool that marketers use to communicate and develop relationships with consumers, we are now seeing that branding is a crucial part of the talent attraction formula, too.

Related: How Your Employees Can Help You Attract the Right Talent

Marketing is having a huge impact on recruiting, which is why now, more than ever, HR and marketing departments must be in lock-step when it comes to recruitment and retention communications.

Your employer brand affects recruitment of new employees, retention and engagement of current employees, and the overall perception of the organization in the market.

And it doesn’t stop there, because your employees are the creators and keepers of your customer experience.

Ultimately, how customers perceive you will be affected by your employee experience.

About Melinda Morella-Olson: Melinda is Imaginasium's director of strategic engagement. She is responsible for uncovering client needs and matching them with Imaginasium’s capabilities. That means she’s on the front line of bringing our message of an intentional, holistic customer experience to the clients who can benefit from our expertise the most.

Melinda is also instrumental in developing the strategic partnerships and marketing strategies that help Imaginasium connect with prospective clients.

Melinda's previous experience includes education, non-profit marketing and communications, strategic planning and fund development.

Feel free to download our free eBook "Building a Better Company with Internal Communications" where you'll find best practices for improving employee experience and engagement at your workplace!

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Written by

Valène Jouany

Valène Jouany

Content Marketing Manager

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