Turn Inward: The Silver Lining to Employee Engagement

Guest November 17, 2020 Employee Engagement

For those that know me or have read my previous blogs, know that I look for every opportunity to talk about the beneficial impact of integrated marketing communications on, well…on everything, and especially at this time.

There is now an exciting new level of opportunity for Employee Engagement to explore.

But how, you ask?

First, you are not alone in this thought. Many of your peers are grappling with how to communicate with colleagues now and in the short-term future about volunteerism, employee giving, and fundraising. Second, it is natural to have delayed fundraising or employee engagement efforts due to concern about the current climate, and third, to be confused on how to be empathic and appropriate, while asking for donations or time.

This year’s pandemic, economic crisis, political climate, and social justice issues have created unique circumstances, to say the least. You don’t have to look very far to read the words “unprecedented,” “never before” or “during this difficult time.” I’ll do my best not to repeat that here. This is in no way meant to minimize the devastating impact of these times on so many but a way to examine the opportunities and meaningfully reach out to employees for increased engagement. Which is very, very necessary right now.


We can replicate the integrated efforts we used to effectively turn outward, to now effectively turn inward.


A little history is important. For the past 15+ years, we have all witnessed how companies invested internally on the strategy to integrate for external audiences generating positive business results. Gathering the internal resources of the company to turn outward to impact the community for increased brand awareness and market share. Understanding and executing on this strategy would build and sustain a powerful Brand. We lowered the firewall between business lines and corporate social responsibility with marketing communications to integrate for measurable community impact, focusing and combining philanthropy, sponsorship, volunteerism, and community and employee-giving with integrated messaging and positioning. Comprehensively working together to positively impact those communities where we live and work, and where our stakeholders live and work.

It’s time to do that again but turning inward to internal audiences, to employees, utilizing that same level of sophisticated outreach.

As you make your plans to turn inward in a deeper way, put your integrated marketing communications colleagues on speed dial.

For those of us old enough to remember that wild ride, the remarkable specialization of every discipline in marketing communications, and the resulting demand for integration. There were many factors responsible for this fragmentation and the integration of marketing communications: an increasingly global economy, the rapid expansion of digital, and the proliferation of social platforms. Target audiences got bigger, more fragmented, and therefore more complicated with unique needs. The incredible results of this work and experience drove the expertise and ability to meet people where they are.


We are crystal clear on, “one size does not fit all.” That goes double for employees.


Leverage this incredible insight and the expertise of your integrated marketing communications teams on your employee engagement strategies.

Marketing Communications, Public Relations, CSR, Human Resources, and Business Lines, join together for Employee Engagement and develop your internal pop-up groups, task forces, response teams to determine how to best coordinate, reach, and engage your colleagues.

Turn inward with your abilities, talents, and skills. Ideate and integrate your efforts as you’ve never done before. The past six months is a continual Call To Action.

Anyone involved in Employee Engagement knows that it impacts profitability, productivity, customer experience, and employee retention. Not to “rose-colored glasses” these complicated and complex times, but there is so much opportunity. Don’t wait, time is of the essence, be bold, and get comfortable with building that airplane as you fly it.


3 Important Things to Remember:

  1. Even with all the disruptions and current environment, employees want to be engaged with work and their colleagues.
  2. Employees want to give to the causes they believe in and make a positive impact on their community.
  3. Offering virtual, digital, or responsible in-person volunteer opportunities are necessary.


5 Tips to Improve Employee Engagement

  1. Focus on a Short-Term Plan – Develop and implement your plan based on input from employees across your organization. Create a constant loop of evaluation, evolution, and execution.
  2. Deeply Connect with Middle Management – Employees are most informed by their immediate supervisor.
  3. Expand Your Internal Network – Surface influential colleagues across your organization, avoid overly focusing on the corporate or central office – remember, employees are most influenced by their colleagues.
  4. Keep Evolving – Look to make changes as the “ways of working” shift. The hybrid working model is likely here to stay, some colleagues will return to the office, others will remain working from home.
  5. Segment Your Employees – Most importantly, develop unique messaging, and distribute through various communications channels. No mass message delivery or one-way communication, will not work beyond high-level, general awareness.


Don’t be afraid to tell positive stories, sharing brief testimonials. Yes, people can get overwhelmed with content now that everything is digital. But, take the time to distribute your success stories and thank you messages. You can spread optimism and engagement just as fast and effectively as other content can spread discontent and disconnection.

How do you know what is effective and working? Ask your colleagues. Then, ask again and again. Given the rapidly changing environment we are all in, don’t be afraid to quickly redirect your efforts. Evolve quickly and often.

Whether you are communicating about a volunteer opportunity, community giving, or your employee relief fund, leverage the year-end giving period to provide employees important information on how to help the community or their fellow colleagues. Research has shown employees want to give but don’t want to feel pressured or made to feel they have to give. We all know that giving to a cause or issue we care about, regardless of the amount, makes us feel good and has a cascading positive effect on other aspects of work and personal life.



Rita is Founder and Principal of Rhythm Strategy Consultancy, bringing decades of executive-level experience within a range of sectors, such as financial services, sports, telecommunications, tourism, utilities, healthcare, and social services to her practice. Rita has worked as an internal leader or consultant with such notable brands as BBVA USA, US Open/U.S. Tennis Association, City of Austin, Coca-Cola, American Heart Association, Urban Resource Institute, and the Emergency Assistance Foundation.

Rhythm Strategy Consultancy focuses on enterprise-wide impact by delivering custom solutions to your corporate social responsibility, marketing communications and change management needs to support both emerging and established companies with strategic insight or technical assistance. Solutions are creative, innovative, and tailored to your specific needs, never template or cookie-cutter driven. To learn more, rhythmconsultancy.com.