- Published on Monday, 27 February 2017 16:08
It is said that Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin has an interesting formula; a formula which makes Virgin one of the most popular brands in the world. His formula is that always put the employee first because “Happy employees equal happy customers”.
Similarly, he is said to believe in the fact that an unhappy employee can ruin the brand experience for not just one, but numerous customers and ensures that his employees are well taken care of, by going as far as to collect feedback by walking around the cabin and talking directly to the staff during his Virgin flights.
So what is his rationale for doing this?
Mr Branson believes that making employees the top priority can bring benefits for both customers and investors. He posits an employee-centric management strategy and in a 2014 interview noted that Virgin employees are the company's top priority; a position which might sounds counter to age-old business wisdom but he points out that this approach has worked so well for Virgin.
The fact is that for any organisation to thrive and achieve higher productivity and sales, the glaring truth is that it must always start with employees. This is because employees are crucial to any business and employee engagement and drive are the conduits through which companies can ensure that they remain competitive and successful.
Thus it become undeniably clear that the strength of the company rests on the shoulders of a charged employees. If employee morale and call to duty dims then, there must be a productivity crisis and this is where internal communications becomes essential.
Internal Communications experts over the years have made a call for companies to priorities employee engagement activities that states clearly the vision and mission of the company; an action which ensures that a clear impression is conveyed to employees about the strategic direction of the company; and this is the burden of most internal communicators. Their desire to carry along all staff on a clear path especially, one that is in tandem with the mission and vision of the organisation.
Research has shown that 82% of CEOs think their employees understand their company’s strategy but only a third agree. Also according to a 2013 Harvard Business Review article, “When CEOs Talk Strategy, Is Anyone Listening?”, only a fraction of employees are really clued in and that 70% of the company doesn't get it. The article cites recent research which says that even in high-performing companies with “clearly articulated public strategies,” only 29% of their employees can correctly identify their company’s strategy out of six choices.
This trend becomes worrying and defeats the basic foundation of working for productivity. Thus the question then is? If employees do not understand your strategy to meet the company’s target and objectives, what is the essence of your investment?
To tackle this, a research by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) indicated that employee engagement is the biggest workforce priority for UK companies. This attest to the fact that employee knowledge on the strategy of the business, its product and services sells the company a ‘million’ times.
Notwithstanding the benefits of internal communications to garner employee buy in, challenges such as budget cut, under resourced or non-existent internal communications outfits are most likely to be bane of the progress and development of a company. Thus, there must be a conscious and concerted effort to have a well-resourced internal communications outfit to drive the focus of the business and the company to employees.
Furthermore, to ensure that internal communications enhances employee engagement, employees must also be made to render full collaboration and corporation to the call from internal communicators. Additionally, HR policies should be binding on employees to fully engage in internal or external activities of the company.
Employee engagements in this sense could take the form of in-house launches, activities, strategy, and employee advocacy among others set the path for employee to understand the products and initiatives and feel immersed in the vision. In an environment where there is a strong presence of these engagement activities, employees will feel more satisfied and better equip to defend and represent the company well.