At our November Networking 9 dinner in Lafayette, several Bay Area communications professionals gathered to discuss best practices for waking up busy and distracted employees.

Here are my 10 favorite employee engagement strategy tips to come out of that meeting:

  • Whenever possible, avoid sending email. Encourage your leaders to communicate messages in person instead or host a five- to ten-minute video conference meeting or podcast, where the leader makes an announcement and takes questions. These short in-person meetings can be scheduled before or after business meetings the leader is already going to. If you have to send an email, measure effectiveness with applications such as Bananatag, Eloqua or Mail Chimp. These apps also offer helpful design templates and best practice tips for improving engagement.
  • Make a print publication interactive by including discussion points for leaders to use in conversations with their teams. Encourage leaders to report back about these conversations and any action items that are planned as a result.
  • Offer employees an opportunity to subscribe to personalized news feeds. This helps minimize the communications employees have to sift through and allows them to receive only news that is of interest and relevant.
  • Encourage bylined submissions to improve employee news article engagement. You can interview an employee and ghostwrite the story for him or her or edit the submission — what’s important is that employees want to hear what other employees have to say. When employees see others contributing content, it encourages them to contribute as well.
  • Host culture conversations. Give employees a forum to talk about what’s good and bad about the culture. Encourage volunteers to sign up to review all of the comments and create a prioritized action plan. Report on actions taken as a result of these conversations.
  • Host weekly Culture Club calls. For example, a leader at Sabre checks in with leaders on his team once a week, asking for brief updates on what’s happening on their teams. That leader then records a two-minute weekly podcast, sharing those updates. Listen to this IABC Circle of Fellows podcast to learn more.
  • Promote stories, Twitter feeds and announcements on TV monitors in offices. Several communicators shared how they use computer monitors to engage employees, advertising employee news stories and events, but also including other interesting content, such as wellness information, local traffic and weather reports. Similarly, consider using electronic Captivate screens inside of elevators. Or post announcements on or near coffee makers and in other high-traffic areas.
  • Encourage leaders to invite employees to participate in fun, non-work events to build engagement. Attending a sports event, such as a baseball, basketball, football or hockey game, is a great way to build camaraderie. One leader invited employees to join him at a boxing exercise class.
  • Create a contest. California State Automobile Association (CSAA) held a meme contest, encouraging employees to create a meme to promote the value of completing compliance training. They offered employees an app to make it easy for them to create a meme. One of the memes was Julie Andrews singing The Sound of Music to share how that employee felt when training was completed. Winners won points, which could be applied to gifts in an employee incentive program.
  • Make it fun. Whenever possible and appropriate, think of fun ways to enliven your communications. Ideas included a Halloween story, featuring “scary things” that can happen at work and how to avoid them, along with employees’ pet photos in Halloween costumes. Create a speed dating (or speed mentoring) event where employees get to meet their colleagues in two- or three-minute rotations.

SF IABC hosts a Networking 9 meeting every other month in San Francisco and Lafayette.

Julie Knight is a board member of SF IABC and content strategist/writer for Oracle.