In April 2020, during the height of a pandemic, my husband and I bought an empty 2019 Ram ProMaster and turned it into a beautiful camper van. We lived out of the van for two amazing months, driving from coast to coast, visiting 21 national parks and partaking in countless adventures.

There were many factors that made this once in a lifetime experience risky (uncertainty, a break from our jobs, never living out of a van before, etc.). But we were presented with an opportunity and took it. Would we do it all over again? In a heartbeat.

Is it time to get out of your internal communications comfort zone and take risks as a communicator?

Take a minute to think about employee communication at your organization: what areas can be improved? What risks can you take to help reach, engage and motivate employees? Here are three methods you can try:

1. Question things that “have always been done that way”
Living out of a van with no bathroom or indoor shower is far from the average lifestyle, but the adventure was worth swapping everyday conveniences.

What are you doing that has become routine that employees no longer find helpful? Just because your company has always done town halls a certain way, for example, doesn’t mean they are still engaging employees the way they used to.

  • Do your company town hall meetings generate discussion? If not, incorporate activities to spark engagement. Add these simple changes to your meetings:
    • Let employees feel involved. Encourage colleagues to work together to solve a problem.
    • Crickets during Q&A? Plant a question to get the conversation started.   

2. Captivate your crowd with storytelling
During our van trip we posted pictures of beautiful America. But our friends and family were dying to hear the stories behind the pictures; from building the van to selling it and everything in between!

Employees are craving stories too—especially now with a hybrid workforce. Believe it or not, some employees miss those watercooler conversations where personal stories come naturally.

Here’s how to add aspects of storytelling to your communications:

  • Do you have a wellness program or another campaign you’d like to increase participation in? Ask employees to share real stories, in their own words, of how a program helped them.
  • Turn a boring announcement into something employees want to read by structuring it with a plot, the action of your story. When writing an internal newsletter article, instead of simply stating that a project team won an award, tell the story of what the team did to win.     

3. Cover new ground

Driving across country gave us plenty of opportunities to visit places we’ve never been before. Turns out, the places we’ve never even heard of were the most beautiful and memorable.

As a communicator, you can explore new media to engage employees.

  • At your next team meeting, pose a question and ask employees to respond via an interactive website like Miro. The collaborative site lets employees interact with one another live in creative, visual ways. Not only is the tool interactive, it’s fun!
  • Mix up meetings with breakout rooms. If you need to solve problems as a team, use the breakout function in your meeting software (if applicable). Smaller groups tend to garner more group participation.

In the words of author and lyricist, Paulo Coelho, “Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.”

Whatever change you’ve been thinking of making to your internal communication program, now’s the time to take the first step!

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