Why a great workplace won’t stop your employees leaving (and that’s ok)

 

Facebook and Google are both rated in the top 10 best places to work in 2018, according to a new Glassdoor list.

Counterintuitively, earlier this year, a Business Insider report found that employees stay just 2.02 years on average at Facebook and 1.90 years at Google.

So why are all these employees leaving so quickly? Shouldn’t a great place to work encourage people to stay? Does that ‘great place to work’ accolade really mean anything at all?

Determining a ‘great place to work’

First, let’s look at some of the factors which contribute to a ‘great place to work’. According to Glassdoor, the winning companies have four things in common:

A mission to believe in:

  • Employees have a sense of purpose and understanding of how they make an impact
  • A motivating mission that inspires quality work

Strong culture:

  • Clearly defined and shared set of values that fosters community
  • Engaged leaders that view positive culture as part of a good business strategy

People focus:

  • Employees are engaged and empowered to do their best work
  • Emphasis on employee growth and development

Transparency:

  • Open and clear communication, from the top down
  • Honest feedback is valued and encouraged

Sounds great right? So, why would anyone want to leave somewhere like this.

Your employees are in demand

What if your employees leave because you provide a great place to work?

What if your mission, culture, focus on people and transparency create the conditions needed for your employees to thrive?

Take a look at the list again. You enable your people to excel, deliver quality work, develop and grow.

Chances are, by doing that you help them become more in demand from other companies just like you.

And that’s also ok, because now that you’re such a great place to work, you’ll continue to attract the best and the brightest. They will in turn help your company to progress and succeed even moreso, with their new ideas and expertise.

Great places to work help create great employees

I think we need to change our attitude towards job tenure and retention. The best employees may not stay for long, but that’s ok.

Instead, we need to help people to reach their greatest potential, during their time that they are with us, in order for them to make the greatest contribution.

A focus on mission, culture, people and transparency isn’t just the right thing to do by your people – it makes business sense too. And that’s a great place to work in anyone’s book.

 

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Life as a Brit working in Comms in Australia

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The stunning Sydney city skyline

This week I was very excited to begin a new role as a Communications Manager at Transport for London. It’s a new challenge in more ways than one because it’s my first role back in London after nearly four years living and working in Sydney, Australia.

As I adjust back to life in London, it feels like a good time to reflect on the experiences I had in Sydney and share them so that they might be useful to anyone else considering a period of time working overseas.

Back then, as a Brit arriving ‘Down Under’, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the workplace, my colleagues and what opportunities I might find along the way.

Finding a job 

I was lucky enough to secure my first contract role within a few weeks of arriving in Sydney. I was advised to seek short contract roles to begin with to quickly build my reputation and networks in the city.

  • In Australia, there’s really just one place to look online for a job in Communications. The website Seek.com.au is a great resource and one-stop-shop for opportunities, although you’ll also find more and more roles being advertised on LinkedIn too.
  • Breaking into the industry can be tough if you’re new to Australia, especially if you want to work in external communications. You’ll need to demonstrate an understanding of the media landscape from the off. As I mentioned, taking on short contract roles (perhaps at a lower level than the role you really want), is a great way to build your credibility.
  • Recruitment consultants won’t tend to engage with you until you’re in the country – it’s worth a try, but it’s best just to give them all a call as soon as you arrive to arrange meetings.
  • The industry is very small and people know each other – which is why your reputation is so important. Once you’ve proven yourself in one role, you’ll find it much easier to secure subsequent roles.

The way of working

  • Australians might speak English, but sometimes it can seem like a completely different language! I wrote about some of the differences I discovered on an earlier post ‘Why Aussies and Brits don’t speak the same language’.
  • Working patterns are different to the UK: since summer falls across  Christmas and New Year, long school holidays stretch from early December to the end of January. You might find businesses begin to wind down a few weeks before Christmas and Australia Day in late January is widely acknowledged as the date things really start to return to normal for the business year ahead.
  • Face-to-face communication can be difficult to maximise as a comms channel: Australia is a beast of a country – it’s a five hour flight from Sydney to Perth for example and 12 hours’ drive even between Sydney and Melbourne. National businesses across multi-sites do build face-to-face into communications, but it’s used sparingly and of course this can be a major challenge in engaging remote employees.
  • Major business hubs (in approximate order of prominence) are: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth. The capital Canberra is really a centre for Government.
  • Life in Australia is so varied and diverse, it’s really like nowhere else on earth. Remote townships in the Outback lie hours and hours drive from major cities. While Sydney and Melbourne aim to compete on a global scale in terms of business, culture and leisure. Not only does this make for a very varied workforce, but also a varied population in general. One of the most valuable trips I made was to the Outback town of Broken Hill, population 22,000, to understand what life was like for one of the franchisees of the business I was working for as Communications Manager. My advice is to travel as much as you can before you settle on where to live, so that you can to try and understand the culture of this place and what makes it tick. Real Australia is not Sydney!

And finally….

Australia is a friendly and positive place to live and I enjoyed every minute of the time I spent over there. Australians were fortunate enough to have not felt the impact of the GFC as much as the UK and it really shows. There’s a real sense of optimism, creativity and innovation which is infectious. There are so many opportunities in Australia to take advantage of – good luck!

 

Australian Edelman Trust Barometer results revealed….how does Oz stack up?

Employees – not leaders – are now the most trusted source of information about business in Australia across four key areas: customer service, innovation, business practices and leadership information.

These are the findings of the Australian Edelman Trust Barometer 2014.

The research also shows trust in ‘regular employees’ has risen from 33 per cent in 2009 through to 53 per cent in 2014. I think the large increase should send a clear message to businesses of the importance of treating employees as the most powerful brand advocates and the value of internal communications in driving this for organisations.

Australian Edelman Trust Barometer findings

You can read the full slide deck of the Australian Edelman Trust Barometer. Some of the key takeaways I took note of for Australia include:

  • Trust in Australia has increased across the board – in NGOs, business, Government (up 13 per cent!) and in media. Trust in every institution is now at its highest point since 2009
  • Trust is six points higher than the UK and nine points higher than the US. Trust in Australia now stands at 58 points on the Trust barometer.
  • Australians are calling for more regulation from Government to protect individuals from business.
  • There is low trust in China – despite China being Australia’s main trading partner.

What are the takeaways for internal communications pros?

I covered the findings of the global Barometer results on a recent blog post here, exploring what internal comms pros could do about the findings.

So what about specifically for Australia?

I return again to the findings that focus on the high level of trust in ‘regular employees’. Slide 20 from the pack demonstrates just how staggering these figures are:

edelman trust barometer

Internal comms pros need to work hand-in-hand with external comms and marketing teams to build-up employees as the greatest asset for the company. The slide pack also lists some of the other ways business can build trust, including: treating employees well, acts responsibly in a crisis, is transparent and open.

Trust in CEOs has also increased since 2009 from 19 per cent to 39 percent. There is still more to do! Slide 23 in the pack highlights the ways leaders can take action. These are all areas internal comms can and should be supporting:

edelman trust barometer australia

 Want to find out more?

Building the trust in business – what can internal communicators do about it?

The findings of the 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer explore for the 14th year running the importance of trust in business:

“We believe that trust is an asset that enterprises must understand and properly manage in order to be successful in today’s complex operating environment. Unlike reputation, which is based on an aggregate of past experiences with a company or brand, trust is a forward facing metric of stakeholder expectation.”

As well as the result of the research, the report reveals 16 key attributes to building trust.

I decided to take a closer look at this section and identify specifically what role internal communicators can play in 2014 to contribute to the building of trust in the organisation in which they work.

I’ve done this because, while the report looks mainly at external perceptions of organisations, I believe that you can only build trust with customers and the general public if first you build a culture of trust with your employees.

I’ve highlighted on the Edelman Slideshare slide 32 (below ) what I think are the key areas we can influence in our roles and listed some important questions (in orange) to ask yourself in relation to these.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW FULL SIZE:

edelman slide 32 annotated

*For tips on how to internal comms can build an innovative culture, visit this useful post by Zyncro here.

My view

While internal communicators have a role to play in influencing all of the 16 key attributes outlined above, I think those highlighted are most closely tied to our purpose.

What’s interesting is that leadership /CEO is listed one of the key four factors which influence trust in a business in this report. This means, it’s more important than ever to get the support for our leaders right and help them to communicate effectively. It’s time to have conversations with leaders about these findings. Encourage authenticity from leaders and openness, transparency and honesty in all communications.

Finally, internal communications needs to work in partnership with external communications on each of these attributes. There can be no disconnect between what is communicated externally and what is communicated internally. But I believe internal communications plays the crucial first role in building trust. Because we have to get the internal culture right first;  building trust with customers and the general public is only possible if first you build a culture of trust with your employees.

What do you think? What role can internal communications play in building trust in business?

Five myths about producing ‘expensive’ and ‘time-consuming’ corporate videos

Spielberg filming
Budding Spielberg? Go right ahead…

The last few years have seen an explosion in the numbers of internal comms pros using video as a primary tool for employee communication.

But often, video is seen as expensive and requiring too much time to produce. Especially for those who haven’t attempted even one corporate video.

So, how can you include video in your comms mix on little to no budget when you have only a few hours to spare?

Here’s a few of the myths surrounding video production and how you can quickly and easily produce effective videos on a shoestring budget:

Myth 1: Who will make our video? Video agencies are really expensive

Fact: yes, you can hire an agency if you have the budget, but it’s often quicker to teach yourself the basics and make the video yourself! By investing the time upfront to teach yourself how to script, film and edit, you’ll save hours of time in the future each time you need to make a new video.

You’ll also save time briefing the agency and going backwards and forwards on edits to produce the final cut. You know your business better than any agency so it’ll be easier for you to know how you want the final video to look.

These days, a video doesn’t have to be super-polished to be effective, something produced in-house on basic equipment can be just as effective as something produced professionally by an agency. It’s about getting your story right and the message targeted to your audience.

Myth 2: I work in comms, I can’t make videos!

Fact: our roles are changing! Video production is becoming an essential skill and it’s not that hard to learn. There are lots of online tutorials for video production so there’s no excuse not to upskill.

Start slowly, film a piece to camera by an executive and have a go at top and tailing (trimming the start and finish of the video) and adding some simple titles.

Myth 3: We need lots of expensive professional filming equipment

Fact: Not true. You can use your iphone or ipad to make a video. If you have slightly more budget you can of course use a video camera to film. You can also hire equipment for a day or however long you need it, since you may not make enough videos to justify purchasing equipment upfront.

Otherwise if budget – invest in a basic camera and tripod, some lights if you can stretch to it. A hard drive to store your footage so it doesn’t clog up your PC is very useful, as are some spare memory cards.

As mentioned in myth 1, your video doesn’t need to be polished to be effective. Look what reporters from the Daily Telegraph are doing with just an iphone and some add-on equipment.

 Myth 4: We need editing software, that’s going to cost a lot and it’s really hard to use

Fact:  Start off with one of the most simple editing softwares the imovie app (c. $5 in the app store) to edit your movie on your ipad or iphone.

Alternatively, sign up for a free adobe premiere pro one-month trial (monthly subscription applies in subsequent months). There’s lots of free tutorials online: start with this one.

Myth 5: It’s going to take a long time

Fact: Okay, so making your first video will take a long time, but as you progress you’ll get quicker and quicker at using the equipment and the software. Keep the video short (it’s much more effective) and be realistic about what you’ll be able to achieve with your time and budget.

Conclusion

More importantly, thoughtful, timely, videos are worth the investment in time because certain messages simply do not have the same effect in an intranet news story or email. Video is becoming content consumption of choice for employees and done well, you will reap the rewards of your efforts.

Do our internal comms need a diet?

two%20people%20eating%20burgerJust a few years ago an internal comms strategy was akin to the ‘three square meals a day’ approach.

It was designed to be hearty and filling, with enough nutritious energy to sustain employees throughout the working week. Sure, there were gaps between meals, but when a meal came along, you knew that you’d find something satisfying. A chunky monthly CEO message, a filling employee magazine for dinner. What’s more, employees could sit at the table in anticipation, build an appetite and know when and what they were getting.

Okay, so not everything was that great. For one thing, we used to serve up breakfast, lunch and dinner on the table and run back to the kitchen. Everyone ate alone and we never asked anyone what they wanted to eat.

But slowly, we adapted. We sat down with our employees and ate at the table too – great! We started conversation over dinner – excellent! And we even got employees cooking meals too and serving them up themselves – even better!

But then, somehow, we lost our way.breakfast lunch dinner

Nowadays, employees never know when the next big feed will be because as well as the three square meals, we’ve allowed an array of snacks and junk food to be available on demand. Everything has become too messy, available without much thought into why it’s being served, and lacking nutrition.

So when did we comms teams become feeders? When did we allow our employees to binge on our comms?

For one, we allowed everyone to start cooking. We gave some training, and we opened up lots of places for the dishes to be served. We were so happy to see our people cooking, that somewhere along the way we forget that the kitchen still needs a head chef, a menu and a weekly meal plan.

Maybe we were just reflecting the (digital) world we live in? We were so keen to replicate the 24/7 drive-thru that is social media, that we unintentionally overfed our employees. We’ve lost track of what we’ve put on the table and we need to remember to give people the time to digest the important stuff.

And, sometimes I think we’ve lost sight of what’s important – those three square meals a day serve a real purpose. They help our people become stronger, with more energy and an appreciation of what they’re eating and why. In contrast, the junk lacks nutritional content, and worse, it means noone is hungry for the next meal. They lose an appetite for the good stuff and noone knows where they are because everyone’s just constantly eating.

diet picAs comms teams we need to take back control of the meal planning, bring back some routine and ensure our people get enough of the good stuff as well as the snacks. It’s a new year, and as most of us try to shed those unwanted xmas pounds, maybe it’s time to put our comms on a detox too?

Let’s ditch the junk and keep snacking to a minimum. Help our employees to understand the nutritional value of our comms by keeping our strategies focused on those three square meals a day.

What do you think? Do our internal comms need a diet?

What new skills did you learn as a comms pro in 2013?

As December rolls into place on my iPhone calendar, I started to reflect on my year at work.

I’ve worked in various roles in internal and external communications, PR and journalism since 2000, but never before has my skillset needed to widen, deepen and adapt moreso than in the last 12 months.

Here’s just a few of the skills I’ve needed this year to do my job, represented in a word cloud. Many are new skills, some build on existing skills I had previously….

(wordcloud created using www.tagul.com)
(wordcloud created using http://www.tagul.com)

I think it’s a great showcase of what’s so exciting about the role of a communications professional. The increase in digital skills is a key theme and while writing is still a core strength for the role, so much more is required in today’s workplace. I can’t wait to see how our industry continues to evolve in 2014…..

What do you think? What skills did you learn in 2013?