From employee satisfaction in the 1970s to employee engagement in the 2000s, the quest to connect with employees is not new. But in today’s tight labor market, that effort to attract and retain top talent has taken on new urgency.

Enter the employee experience.

Put simply, the employee experience encompasses every interaction an employee has while he/she is at your company — beginning at onboarding and running all the way through retirement.

Employee experience experts break this down into different aspects (e.g., social/cultural, emotional, technological, environmental). While there’s some disagreement as to which of those aspects are most important, the experts all agree that a positive employee experience can have a very real impact on employees’ productivity.

In fact, data from Gallup shows that at companies where employees are highly engaged, company growth improves and customer satisfaction increases.

Communication is crucial
Another area where the experts agree is that exceptional internal communication is essential to creating a satisfying employee experience. In fact, it’s one of the most important employee engagement tools you have.

But in order for internal communication to boost your employee experience, it must be stellar. It’s about much more than just posting articles to your intranet or hosting the same old town halls.

Exceptional internal communication inspires and excites employees. It reaches and engages them. It meets their needs and makes them feel as if their voices have been heard.

And the key to designing stellar internal communication is to know your employees.

You can’t just assume that what you prefer about communication will appeal to all employees or that just because you’ve sent a message, employees have understood and acted on it.

So how can you get to know your employees better without going out and interviewing every single one of them? Employee demographics.

Employee demographics will help you understand what your employees do, how they think and what they believe. After all, the more you know, the better you can create internal communication that will be meaningful and useful to employees. And that translates into the more engaging employee experience.

 

What are demographics
Demographics are defined as “the characteristics of human populations and population segments, especially when used to identify consumer markets.” They are used extensively in advertising, marketing, politics, and other fields to understand what people care about and what they might be willing to buy.

Although not a foolproof predictor of behavior, demographics are also valuable for internal communication. Every communicator should have employee details that answer questions like:

  • How many locations?
  • What is the average tenure?
  • What are our key job categories?
  • Do employees have access to communication tools?
  • What percentage of employees work in manufacturing, sales and office positions?

The best source to find this type of information is Human Resources (HR). Many HR organizations have an HR information or payroll system that captures essential data about employees. While it may be ideal to obtain data that are as specific as possible, don’t obsess over every detail. The idea is to paint a picture of your organization, so you can consider employees’ information needs and how best to reach them.

 

3 need-to-know employee demographics
The potential demographic categories useful for employee communication are almost limitless but don’t get overwhelmed by the possibilities. Begin by focusing on three essential areas:

1. Location: When it comes to how employees experience communication, geography is an important factor. Employees in remote locations often feel more out of the loop than those at headquarters.

For example, think about the difference between headquarters employees who often experience town halls live versus employees in overseas locations who may only be able to view a video of the town hall on your company’s intranet.

2. Length of service: Some organizations have employees who stay at the company for decades. Others — in retail and food service, for instance — have very high attrition, with an annual turnover of 80% or higher. Tenure has implications for how much employees understand about the company.

Tip: It’s not always employees with longer tenures who are most informed. Consider the difference between a long-serving employee who feels he/she has seen everything to a newly on-boarded employee who’s just been versed in the latest company vision and strategy.

3. Access to technology: This is a critical data point in our age of email, social tools, and intranets. It’s easy to assume that all your employees are online, all of the time. In fact, one recent statistic states that 70% of today’s workforce doesn’t sit at a desk.

So ask yourself: Do all your employees have regular access to the internal communication tools you create — either on desktop computers or mobile devices? For instance, employees working from laptops in an office may easily access your intranet but can sales people working from tablets on the road and manufacturing employees on the production line?

Once you have collected your employee demographics, you can use them to tailor your communication strategies and tactics to better meet employees’ needs. One great approach is to create profiles: a collection of demographics and associated facts about key employee subgroups.

Profiles will help you keep employees in mind as you plan communication. For example, you might find you have a significant population of recently hired sales employees who are frequently on the road. To create a sense of meaningful connection with these employees, you might want to consider mobile-friendly communication that supports two-way dialogue such as leader micro-blogs delivered through employee social apps (like Yammer or Chatter) or even texts.

To learn more about how you can use demographics — and other employee insights — to create breakthrough employee communication, download our Smart Guide. After all, if you want to build an exceptional employee experience, there’s no better way to start than by understanding your employees.

Origninally published on medium.com

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