Better communication can keep employees more engaged. PHOTO: James Oladujoye

BOSTON — Marketers and sales teams understand the imperative of focused messaging that resonates with customers. But companies generally fall short when it comes to internal communication with the people who arguably matter most ... their employees.

Marissa Jarratt, vice president of marketing for the Global Snacks Group at PepsiCo., delivered this message in her keynote this morning here at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel during the Gilbane Digital Content Conference

No Love for Employees

During her keynote, Jarratt told the audience static emails with PDF attachments are still the way of the world for company communications.

“Is that really the best way to capture the attention of and inspire employees?” Jarratt said. “Does that email provide us with analytics about how the audience is engaging with the content?”

In short: no.

And that’s a shame, Jarratt said, because employees are the “engine of innovation and growth.” They are also the source of incredible cost through rehiring and retraining processes. Disengaged employees leave companies fast.

Gallup estimates actively disengaged employees cost the US $450 billion to $550 billion in lost productivity per year.

“Employee disengagement is at all-time high,” Jarratt said. “It’s not so much that employees are hostile or disruptive, they’re just disengaged. They’re doing the minimal amount of work required. They’re less vigilant and more prone to miss work and change jobs as new opportunities arise.”

Treat Employees Like Customers 

Marketers spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing data and metrics and turning them into relevant targeted campaigns. 

But are your employees alerted of those campaigns? Do they know they played a role in the development of those programs? Do you ask for their feedback?

They would if your company had a strong internal communications play. “Internal marketing pays dividends,” Jarratt said. “Employees deserve content that’s as rich and polished as those you send to customers and your community.”

Jarrett’s team at PepsiCo. publishes digital content for employees that includes interactive media such as video, audio and social components. It was part of an effort that began in 2014 to unify the company’s communications processes and increase employee engagement.

Focus on Engagement

Engagement is a critical data point for internal communications. What topics resonate with employees? Who is most engaged? Which digital media method works best with employees?

“It’s important your communications provide insights and analytics into the level of engagement they’re delivering,” Jarratt said. “You can track any marketing and advertising campaign and now you can do the same for internal communications.”

As it turns out, people like interactive media like video. 

Tania Yuki, founder and CEO of Shareablee, followed Jarratt’s presentation with a discussion of Facebook live and its engagement with large audiences.