Adapting Content Strategies to Grow Employee Happiness

by Mike Metz

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how many businesses work, but the need to retain talent is here to stay. With so many people working from home or on a modified schedule, many employers are finding their employees have new, unexpected needs and the requests to match. When it comes to dodging these frustrations and keeping employees happy, tapping into the creativity of an agency’s marketing or content team can make a big difference.

It costs a lot less to keep an employee than it does to lose and replace one. With that in mind, companies are looking at the types of content or marketing projects they once designed for customers, and adapting them for their own employees in fun, inventive ways. In the end, if the team is happy and productive the risk of turnover is controlled. See how some of FATFREE’s clients and others have made this happen.

The Costs of Losing an Employee

On a practical note, preventing turnover isn’t just good for morale, it’s good for business. Consider the obvious, hidden and long-tail costs of losing one or even a handful of employees. There are immediate costs when employees leave, such as contractual payments like sick leave or vacation pay that may be owed. If their work is essential to day-to-day operations, someone will need to fill their shoes. Does this require paying overtime to existing employees? Perhaps work slows down a bit while the team adjusts to a new workload. Or maybe a freelancer is hired as a permanent replacement is sought. Training any new talent also takes time and materials.

Lasting costs are a reality as well. Will the loss of a particular employee create customer service gaps? Missing deadlines or sales can lead to losing customers or clients, and this inattention can harm any brand. What if an employee manages to take a client or two with him as he leaves? Both of these examples represent a serious potential loss of income.

Understanding Why Turnover Happens

Once a company suspects that it has a turnover problem, it’s time to start asking the difficult questions in exit interviews. When an employee has decided to leave voluntarily (as opposed to, say, being laid off), don’t let him walk out without understanding why. There will be reasons that are outside of anyone’s control — maybe the employee is moving away or switching careers. But certain issues, if caught early, can be addressed. Did the employee find a better-paying job? Unless he’s given an attractive counteroffer, he’s probably leaving. Smart companies will take it as a reminder to ensure that employee salaries are compatible with the current job market.

What if the reason for leaving is more difficult to quantify? What if someone’s leaving because he’s simply unhappy? Understanding employee happiness is vital to understanding voluntary turnover. Research from The Society for Human Resource Management indicates the reported level of employee happiness — especially with supervisors, but also co-workers — is the strongest indicator of who’s likely to leave. It’s stronger than the measurable things like benefits or even salary.

The good news: It’s entirely within an employer’s power to start cultivating employee happiness, to do it today, and at a cost that is much less than losing a team member in the first place.

Get Creative, and Inspire Employee Happiness

If employee satisfaction depends on feeling like a connected, useful and valued member of the team, this can be difficult to build and sustain without a shared office space. However, the very tools a company uses to keep customers happy can be modified to keep employees happy, too. As work-from-home culture becomes mainstream, we have seen how companies’ clients and others are going the extra mile for their employees.

The Work-from-Home Wellness Kit: These days, the big, corporate gift basket is getting a makeover for employees. When a large law firm wanted to show its appreciation for its newest attorneys, the firm sent a wellness kit to each of them. Full of healthful snacks and branded items, the kit also included a deck of 100 self-care tips written specifically for first-year lawyers by leaders in the firm. This personal touch let them all know how much they were valued as a member of the team, and it reaffirmed their commitment to mentorship even though the first experience at the firm was working remotely.

Virtual Story Time: A parent who has had to work from home for any length of time knows that relocating to a home office and adjusting to a new schedule is only half the battle. The other big challenge is taking care of children’s needs as they attend online school. With everyone working under one roof, the interruptions can be maddening. That’s why one company’s idea to offer virtual story time to their employees’ kids was so inspired. The chairman of the board and other company leaders sat down at their webcams to lead storytime, creating a series of videos featuring entertaining picture books. Kids and parents loved it, and leadership showed that they understood their employees’ childcare challenges and were willing to help out in a fun and creative way.

Private Digital Yoga Lessons: When employees are commuting into an office, that tiny bit of exercise to and from work has benefits. But when an entire workforce is remote, employees are sitting more than ever, and all this inactivity can negatively affect one’s health. At the very least, people who sit most of the day burn fewer calories and will gain weight over time. Sitting for too long can also lead to poor circulation, inflammation and a gradual loss of muscle and bone strength. When an HR firm sought a way to keep its clients healthy, moving and connected, its solution was as thoughtful as it was effective. The firm hired a private yoga teacher to create a series of yoga videos, guiding people through full-body stretches that could be done from any desk. Clients were able to offer a stress-busting, healthful break from sitting all day, and employees were able to enjoy a shared experience as well.

Respecting a Company’s Diversity: When a company reaches 100,000 employees, respecting the diversity within requires sincerity and visibility. One CEO came up with an entertaining way to highlight the experiences of the many Spanish-speaking employees in his company. He starred in a video series called “¿Que Pasa, Jim?” in which he went on site to meet with Spanish speakers across departments. Their discussions about ongoing projects, safety initiatives and human-interest stories gave these voices a spotlight in addition to sharing important information. Jim’s videos were widely appreciated and were far more impactful than simply distributing Spanish translations of internal, corporate communications.

Companies spend a lot of time and money to create unique content programs for their customers or their clients. As the reality of a remote workforce grows — at least in the near term — there are fun and smart ways to repurpose these projects, turn them inward, and let employees benefit from them as well. By urging employees to briefly put aside their to-do lists in the name of building strong relationships, and staying connected with their teammates despite the distance between them, programs like these let leadership show that they’re serious about keeping employees happy.  

Since 2005, Mike Metz has led FATFREE in providing lean, strategic digital marketing solutions for clients of all sizes. FATFREE offers a full range of digital channels, from websites and ecommerce to social media, content development and CX.

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