Does a Steven Slater Work for You? How Internal Benefits Communications Can Engage Employees

Does a Steven Slater Work for You? How Internal Benefits Communications Can Engage Employees

How can we forget the theatrics of the former JetBlue flight attendant who yelled at passengers, grabbed a beer and went down the plane’s emergency chute as opposed to the standard resignation letter when it came to quitting his job? While we hope that Mr. Slater’s stunt is a one-of-a-kind comedic exaggeration that we never experience from our own employees, unfortunately there is a real trend among U.S. workers who are dissatisfied or resentful toward their employers.

According to research conducted by The Gallup Organization, there are three types of employees: engaged, not-engaged, and actively disengaged:

1. Engaged employees "work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward."
2. Employees who are not-engaged "are essentially 'checked out' … sleepwalking through their workday, putting time — but not energy or passion — into their work."
3. Actively disengaged workers "act out their unhappiness," and "undermine what their engaged workers accomplish."

According to the U.S. Employee Engagement Survey, a startling 69% of workers are either not-engaged or actively disengaged on the job. Further research from the firm estimates that approximately $370 billion is lost annually due to lower productivity from actively disengaged workers alone.

So what can be done about this alarming trend?

While benefits, work environment and other factors certainly play a large role in worker engagement levels, instituting a comprehensive internal communications program is one of the most valuable ways to encourage employees to become stakeholders in a company.

Many progressive companies now view internal communications as equal in importance to external communications like advertising, marketing, public relations and investor relations. Indeed, external marketing can only reach its full potential when employees fully "buy in" to a company's vision, messages, goals and values. In fact, the best internal communication plans are built around the company’s value statement.

Conducting a companywide "communications audit" analyzes how communications are delivered across divisions, offices and teams. An audit will reveal communication accuracy, understanding, consistency and delivery methods. Once this is complete, a plan can be implemented that communicates that employees' are critical to the company's objectives and future.

In fact, there are countless ways to foster employee engagement through internal communications. Successful ideas include:

• Contests with compelling prizes (free tickets to sporting events, etc.)
• Celebrations of achievements with senior executives in attendance
• Awards for employee commitment to company's values
• Internal mentor-protégé programs linking junior to senior-level employees across the company
• Employee-led community relations events

Feedback is a must! It's important to provide a method for offering suggestions or questioning the company's direction. Employees who feel that their ideas are taken seriously are much more likely to be positively engaged in their job.

High levels of employee engagement increase workforce retention and provide companies with advocates for its products and services. With a carefully thought-out internal communications program, organizations can leverage their employee benefits for maximum advantage. This type of engagement can boost a company’s level of productivity, creativity and bottom-line results!

According to TMZ.com, Slater is in talks to get his own reality TV show. The premise — which, I am sure those disengaged employees think is sheer genius — is to help miserable employees quit their jobs in style. If this goes through, we’ll all be scrambling to ensure our employees are engaged or, at the very least, that we have disengaged the emergency chute!