How to get internal communications right for burned-out employees

Estimated reading time
4 minutes
18th February 2021
Author: Kit McKay
Posted in: People, skills and leadership

According to a recent survey, 75 percent of people have experienced burnout at work, with 40 percent feeling it during the pandemic specifically. A work-life balance crisis is sweeping through companies, with employees feeling increasingly uninspired and apathetic towards their jobs and the businesses they work for.

While those that work in internal communications might not be able to tackle the root cause of this problem, they can help address the symptoms. By shaking up your corporate comms, you have the potential to help remind people why they love what they’re doing and reignite some of the passion they’ve lost in the last year. But when getting an employee to even open an email is a challenge, how exactly should you approach this?

1. Repackage

With many, if not all, of your employees working from home, in-person gatherings and printed newsletters are off the table. But even the standard digital formats, like email or PDF documents, are just not having the impact they used to.

“We’re having to rethink our approach to communication to ensure we can communicate effectively with our colleagues,” says Laura Edwards, Head of Internal Communications at Marsh Commercial. “Whilst we had a digital approach before, we must utilize this even further to encourage collaboration.”

People are spending more time than ever using digital technology. The contrast between the fun, innovative tech they use in their free time and the traditional tech their companies are using is crystal clear. Bridging this gap to bring the aesthetic and UX of your internal comms closer to the standard we expect today will allow you to remain competitive in the fight for attention. Whether that’s experimenting with video content, social media, or interactive tech is up to you.

Temenos’ internal communications team is hyper-aware of this. Last year, in order to keep their corporate culture alive for remote employees, they created an interactive culture book that reminds people what working at Temenos is all about. The delivery of this content was so successful that they decided to make the book public so that anyone can learn more about “Temenosity”. Check it out below:

Temenosity book cover

2. Personalize

Personalization is more than just a fun gimmick to add to your internal communications. It has the potential to condense your comms down to a level that will reengage burned-out employees.

Let’s say you have an internal newsletter that covers a range of topics. Naturally, not everyone is going to read it end-to-end. They’ll pick and choose which areas are most interesting to them. Ideally, you should be able to pre-emptively personalize that newsletter for audience segments, or even individuals, in a way that gives everyone the version they’re most likely to engage with. This reduces cognitive fatigue among your employees because they don’t have to wade through irrelevant information.

You can also segment your audience by the content formats they like to engage with and deliver the same message to different groups of people in a variety of ways.

However, being able to personalize at scale requires the right technology in place. In one survey of over 700 people who work in internal communications, 99 percent said they use email to communicate with their employees, but only 28 percent personalize any element of their messaging. Almost half claimed that this was because they don’t have the right technology to pull it off.

If you’re interested in hearing about how Turtl’s software can help with personalization, head here.

3. Track

Finally, the key to winning back the engagement of burned-out employees hinges on your ability to be empathetic. The best way to do this is by collecting data. This can either be generated from direct feedback or engagement with your communications (open rates, click-throughs, read times, etc.).

Direct feedback will give you specific comments that indicate where problems lie or where new opportunities might exist, but it will be censored as people rarely say what they really mean, especially in a professional environment. Indirect feedback via engagement data is where the truth really lies.

If you have an important message in an email that’s seeing very low open rates, you could try getting that message across in a video instead, for example. If certain topics in your newsletter are not being read or clicked on, you can replace them with something else or rework them a different way until that engagement picks up again.

You’ll likely find that while there are aggregate trends, there are also trends among groups of people, perhaps by age group or department. This reveals where you could be personalizing your internal communications to really squeeze out every last drop of engagement.

However, while 95 percent of those that work in internal communication agree that this measurement is important, 1 in 2 say that it’s the activity they spend the least amount of time on.

Breathing life into internal communications

Corporate culture has taken a hit in the past year, but internal communications have been more important than ever. To keep burned-out employees engaged, you have to experiment with new formats, create tailored content that meets the reader where they like to communicate, and track its performance in order to be more empathetic. As Emma Tucker, Head of Internal Communications at Temenos, says:

“Even in the midst of massive global uncertainty, people will still leave a company if they don’t feel valued”

Read more on how Temenos has approached their internal comms below:

Internal communications at Temenos guide cover