Employee communications - fracture for success and security.Employee communications have lost their way. Without the sobering reality of circulation figures and advertising dollars to guide them, employee communicators have become too engrossed en·gross
tr.v. en·grossed, en·gross·ing, en·gross·es
1. To occupy exclusively; absorb: A great novel engrosses the reader. See Synonyms at monopolize.
2. with the 'look of the book' and too often neglect the specific needs of their readers for real, useful information that will increase their productivity. To get back on track, communicators should examine what's happening in consumer publications and adapt these exquisite techniques to communicating with employees.
Fracturing is what is happening with astonishing a·ston·ish
tr.v. as·ton·ished, as·ton·ish·ing, as·ton·ish·es
To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. See Synonyms at surprise. speed in publications for consumers. (It has always been the mode with trade publications.) Successful editors and publishers of consumer publications have been skillfully skill·ful
1. Possessing or exercising skill; expert. See Synonyms at proficient.
2. Characterized by, exhibiting, or requiring skill. directing the content of their publications to appeal to smaller, more defined, homogeneous The same. Contrast with heterogeneous.
homogeneous - (Or "homogenous") Of uniform nature, similar in kind.
1. In the context of distributed systems, middleware makes heterogeneous systems appear as a homogeneous entity. For example see: interoperable network. segments.
Today, there are magazines for the most finite populations finite population
see finite population. . Some publishers can customize issues to each subscriber, even eliminating perfume perfume, aroma produced by the essential oils of plants and by synthetic aromatics. The burning of incense that accompanied the religious rites of ancient China, Palestine, and Egypt led gradually to the personal use of perfume. samples from those issues sent to a few subscribers who object to the odor. Other magazines produce 15 to 20 different editions of each issue slanted slant
v. slant·ed, slant·ing, slants
1. To give a direction other than perpendicular or horizontal to; make diagonal; cause to slope: to various regional and ethnic audiences.
Much of this fracturing has been encouraged by advertisers who are demanding a higher penetration of actual prospective buyers. Why, advertisers ask, waste dollars to reach 1,000,000 readers when only 10 percent are interested enough in the product to buy it? Advertisers want to be able to spend a lot less money and still reach that important 10 percent.
With this fracturing happening with such speed and fury, it is dismaying dis·may
tr.v. dis·mayed, dis·may·ing, dis·mays
1. To destroy the courage or resolution of by exciting dread or apprehension.
2. that more managers of employee communication departments of companies haven't heard it and joined in. Many companies still publish one magazine/newspaper for all their employees and retirees. (Some of these productions are beautifully and professionally designed, written and printed extravaganzas; others are embarrassingly em·bar·rass
tr.v. em·bar·rassed, em·bar·rass·ing, em·bar·rass·es
1. To cause to feel self-conscious or ill at ease; disconcert: Meeting adults embarrassed the shy child.
2. amateurish.) Justification for this "one-size-fits-all" communication is that it creates a "family feeling" among employees.
Wake up, communicators!
Why should a group of people, just because they happen to work for one large company, be seen as a homogeneous mass with the same interests, goals, wants and desires? Why expect a company's employees to relate to just one type of communication? There are about 225,000,000 Americans, yet they don't all think or respond alike just because they are Americans. Witness their rancorous ran·cor
Bitter, long-lasting resentment; deep-seated ill will. See Synonyms at enmity.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin, rancid smell, from Latin political elections on federal, state and local levels.
All-employee magazines/newspapers that portray employees as "family" may have had validity when comfortable, colossal co·los·sal
Of a size, extent, or degree that elicits awe or taxes belief; immense. See Synonyms at enormous.
[French, from Latin colossus, colossus; see colossus. business had no real competition in the world. But we all face competition, rising up from the West and the East. By continuing to cultivate the "family feeling," communicators are promoting an outdated, bankrupt myth. Business has to become more productive. Improving this vital statistic statistic,
n a value or number that describes a series of quantitative observations or measures; a value calculated from a sample.
a numerical value calculated from a number of observations in order to summarize them. requires that communicators respond sharply to why employees work.
Wise up, communicators!
Employees work to earn money to provide a good living for themselves and their families. Employees may rank money third or fourth, when they are asked why they work, but I suspect they don't put money at the top because they think it's not proper, or are practicing a willful Intentional; not accidental; voluntary; designed.
There is no precise definition of the term willful because its meaning largely depends on the context in which it appears. self-denial. I would bet that if employees were asked this question: Would you work at your present job if you had a private income and didn't need the salary? The response would be an overwhelming NO!
Helping employees to earn more money for themselves should be the prime goal of employee communication. And by achieving this, of course, the employer earns more, which in turn increases the pay and job security of employees. A meaningful employee communication program must furnish fur·nish
tr.v. fur·nished, fur·nish·ing, fur·nish·es
1. To equip with what is needed, especially to provide furniture for.
2. each defined employee audience with enough of the right kind of information at the right time in the proper form to increase productivity. Employee communication products should be directed to definite employee segments of the organizations and written and designed to engage those readers by selecting specific information that will have high interest for them in a pleasing, inviting package. Further, by directing communication to fractured employee segments, there is more bang for the communication buck.
How to do this?
* First, clearly define the many segments of a company's population by job function -- managers, line workers, clerks, assemblers This is a list of assemblers. Hundreds of assemblers have been written; some notable examples are:
* Second, by intensive, honest and expensive surveying, determine each group's lifestyle, education, values, leisure activities, information sources and household type to name just a few. These data will determine in what style information has to be packaged to be accepted and acted upon by each group;
* Third, ask and ask again, then verify what specific information each group really wants that will enable its members to do their jobs better; their requests may be very technical or simple, but if that's what That's What is one of the more idiosyncratic releases by solo steel-string guitar artist Leo Kottke. It is distinctive in it's jazzy nature and "talking" songs ("Buzzby" and "Husbandry"). they want, give it to them;
* Fourth, create fresh, effective methods of delivering information in the most effective and economical fashion to which that specific audience best relates and will motivate them to increase their productivity -- magazine, newspaper, newsletter, E-mail, video, direct mail, interactive employee benefit station, special promotion, bulletin boards, group meetings. For example, if only a small number of an employee audience reads Fortune, why put out a magazine like Fortune? Conversely con·verse 1
intr.v. con·versed, con·vers·ing, con·vers·es
1. To engage in a spoken exchange of thoughts, ideas, or feelings; talk. See Synonyms at speak.
2. , if a large percentage reads Fortune, then that's what a group's publication should read and look like. And (this will be difficult for professional communicators to accept) if a significant number of a niche audience reads the National Enquirer En`quir´er
n. 1. See Inquirer.
Noun 1. enquirer - someone who asks a question
asker, inquirer, querier, questioner , then that's what its newspaper should resemble, short of sleazy slea·zy
adj. slea·zi·er, slea·zi·est
a. Shabby, dirty, and vulgar; tawdry: "sleazy storefronts with torn industrial carpeting and dirt on the walls" accounts of the chairman's off-duty activities, though this would certainly rocket readership 100 percent.
* Fifth, follow up by regularly surveying employees -- do they find the information improves their productivity? If not, what do they want? These surveys replace circulation figures and advertising dollars as gauges of success. Keep taking the measure of your communications' efforts until there are definite rises in productivity, then hone your communications to keep productivity up.
Finally, if employee communication is ever to achieve a secure place in any corporate structure it has to swallow hard, step up to the line, and accept direct responsibility (as every line function does) for positively affecting productivity. Until that happens, employee communications will remain essentially outsiders.
One means of achieving success and security is to fracture employee communication. One size does not fit all.
Ronald G. Mullins is with the Insurance Information Institute in New York City New York City: see New York, city.
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. .
WHAT'S IN? MAGAZINE READING!
Lifestyles have changed and the need for a portable, easy to read at any time information piece has become more important than in the past," says Karel Laing, president of K. L. Publications. "As a matter of fact, MPA MPA
medroxyprogesterone acetate. (Magazine Publishers Association), has done some research on this point that reflects a population growth of 22 percent in the 10-year period prior to 1989 and a 43 percent per issue circulation growth of audited consumer magazines during the same time." Laing adds that today's reader wants more specific information that fits his or her immediate needs. "Fewer people today have the luxury of time to read much general interest information. The self-selection process is key to an effective publication program." Laing also notes that a dramatic change in company-sponsored magazines has resulted in using the publication as a hard-hitting marketing tool (from the previously positioned public relations public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most tool). "Part of this has been possible because of the advancements in computers, which in the past decade has allowed the development of a well-tuned data base. Then, with the target market defined, a publication can be precisely directed to a specific market."
STAFF CUTBACKS CREATE JOBS FOR OUTSIDE VENDORS
'Even the largest corporations have been reducing the size of their in-house publication staffs and relying more and more on outside suppliers," says Jack McIver, editorial director of Zaxis Publishing, Inc. of Toronto.
"I think several factors account for this trend. Among them: rising employee salary and benefits levels have dramatically increased the costs of maintaining in-house communication staffs; it is frequently more efficient to hire outside consultants on a needs basis." McIver also adds that despite early predictions that desktop publishing desktop publishing, system for producing printed materials that consists of a personal computer or computer workstation, a high-resolution printer (usually a laser printer), and a computer program that allows the user to select from a variety of type fonts and sizes, would open up the world of publishing to virtually anyone with a PC, the opposite seems to be happening. As desktop hardware and software have become increasingly sophisticated, the skills and talents required to take proper advantage of their capabilities have also had to increase. "The old story still holds true: a piece of electronic equipment on your desk does not render you an editor, or a designer, or a production specialist -- any more than did a dictionary or an X-acto knife in the past."
McIver feels that corporations have become more demanding, more sophisticated in their approach to communication. The universal quest for Verb 1. quest for - go in search of or hunt for; "pursue a hobby"
quest after, go after, pursue
look for, search, seek - try to locate or discover, or try to establish the existence of; "The police are searching for clues"; "They are searching for the corporate quality has rendered obsolete the mediocre me·di·o·cre
Moderate to inferior in quality; ordinary. See Synonyms at average.
[French médiocre, from Latin mediocris : medius, middle; see medhyo- , the inferior, communication vehicle. Corporations recognize that honesty and integrity truly do sell, and that their audiences will see through anything less."
McIver predicts that the future may also bring an increased use of sponsors or advertisers within corporate publications to help offset the cost of producing the publications. "You will also see an increased use of multimedia packages. What you won't see, for sure, is a reduction in corporate communication and information vehicles: the effective dissemination dissemination Medtalk The spread of a pernicious process–eg, CA, acute infection Oncology Metastasis, see there of information is and will continue to be a corporation's greatest sales tool."
BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS PUBS INCREASE
'We have noticed a strong uptick Uptick
A transaction occurring at price above its previous transaction. In order for an uptick to occur, a transaction price must be followed by an increased transaction price. in what we call business-to-business magazines. These publications portray their sponsors to the sponsors' clients, rather than to the public at large. At the beginning of 1989, our company was producing five consumer, two business-to-business, and two employee pubs," says Bill Hampton of the Aegis Group Publishers. "Specific titles come and go, but right now we produce five consumer and seven business-to-business publications. So our experience suggests business is increasingly attracted by the targeted nature of custom publishing. And it seems most interested in publications that are very specifically tailored to small and highly selected business (as opposed to consumer) audience. Circulation for these pubs tends to be under 10,000 -- and sometimes only a few thousand -- compared to the range of 500,000 to 1.9 million we see in consumer publications." Hampton expects this trend will continue driven by the desire of sponsors to enhance their image among current and prospective clients as leaders in their fields, and the need to deliver that message in an extremely focused fashion. "But the quality of audience being exposed is considerably more specific. And targeted publications provide the room needed to explain and highlight complicated subjects," adds Hampton.