Authentic Internal Engagements for Recruitment and Retention
|By Lucy Blair - Communications Manager |
Calhoun County, Michigan
|What attracted me to the position of communications manager for Michigan’s Calhoun County was the opportunity to create the communications infrastructure. I walked in ready to address outreach, but I found that internal audiences were curious about what was going on countywide, too. |
I am in a unique position to bridge the gap between administration and employees. Our county government is decentralized and as communications manager, I get to listen to the stories of each department, maybe more in-depth than other administrators. That motivated me to assist with internal communications. Also, I had moved to Calhoun County on my own. I was in a new city and starting a new job. I wanted to connect with the my new colleagues.
So in September, I made cookies and put them on the table in my office. To make it extra clear that people could take one, I created a sign with an arrow that got right to the point: “Would you like a cookie?” I think I’m very funny, and I tweeted a photo of the arrangement.
|That was the start of the day. When the first two people came into my office that morning, I asked if I could take their photo. As the day went on, I took each person’s photo. What developed was a story I didn’t expect: I engaged with more people that day than I had since I had started my job. |
|I cross-posted this fortuitous Twitter thread to my Facebook. It grew from there, and since that time, I’ve heard from at least two dozen personal and work friends who enjoyed it. I consider it a valuable campaign because I publicly illustrated the part of the work day we look forward to but sometimes have a hard time capturing. |
When I worked at Herman Miller before I came to Calhoun County, I collaborated on social media campaigns with a woman whose title is talent branding specialist. From her, I learned:
|I enjoy the challenge of engaging with employees, especially digitally, because it’s the right thing to do. But the benefits of engaging meaningfully with internal staff are huge and in a decentralized government, it’s especially rewarding. Decentralized offices and the lack of resources for employee engagement inevitably lead to a disconnected workforce. |
The benefits to internal communications are significant because:
|Opening my door is a way for me to engage with coworkers and not feel alone in a brand new role. I’ve benefited tremendously from this. When a white board was installed in my office, I began writing questions for people to respond to—an invitation with fewer calories. Each week I invite people to respond. Now coworkers come upstairs to the administration office to answer my question—or for the candy basket I keep stocked.|
|I’m not trying to create content-worthy moments. Instead, I’m doing this because it’s a way I can connect with all people in the building—not just those from departments I work with. I think that’s why this approach has worked externally. For many, work isn’t just 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. anymore. It’s a living and breathing entity in our lives. It’s important that every person feels they have a place at work. It’s an added bonus when we can find authentic ways to capture it.|
|Other ways I’ve developed internal buy-in using communications|
|- Email marketing for internal newsletters|
|- Social media policy|