3 minute read
Continuing measures to squash the bell curve of the COVID 19 infection rate has meant for many, a new experience, working from home! There is plenty of advice on how to work from home, to name a few:
- Allocate a dedicated workspace
- Remove distractions
- Enjoy breaks every 30-40 minutes
- Periodically check your phone, not when the light is blinking
- Have a good internet connection and cloud file storage system
- Utilise a reliable video conferencing tool
However, there is little advice on how to continue working as a team, to keep your business going forward in these exceptional circumstances.
Many people are asking, how are you finding working from home… in response the team at IM are adept at this as 50% of the time we do just that, work remotely. Given our strength in this area we wished to share some of our top tips on team engagement and also contest some fears, as many people are currently working outside their comfort zone.
Firstly, it should be stated that this is an opportunity to change, grow, and transform how business is undertaken. In a recent US study, it showed that ‘86% of employees say they are most productive when they work alone’ as there are less distractions including inefficient meetings and office chat. It is also reported that home workers benefit from reduced stress levels, are more likely to stay loyal to a company and given lack of commute, ‘give back’ the equivalent of 11 days per year, demonstrating there are plenty of positives on home working.
To take advantage of these benefits the right environment needs to be created, as noted in a recent Gallup survey a highly engaged team shows a 21% greater profitability, need we say more. So firstly –
In these times of disconnection, a concerted effort needs to be made to connect with your team, including opportunities for feedback loops. Depending on team size we suggest a weekly or twice weekly team ‘headline’ conference call of no more than 30 minutes.
This provides team members the opportunity to ‘headline’ their workload, the positives and negatives, and if any assistance is required from the group. We also suggest enabling team leaders to have weekly one to one ‘calls’ with team members for a further deep dive into workload, encouraging feedback and discussion.
We hold both of the above internally on a weekly basis and 30 minutes almost seems too much time; it is always productive and creates pointers for further ‘out of group’ engagement and collaborations.
Connecting with others is an embedded social and human normalcy. Connection gives us a sense of inclusion, interaction, safety, and community; we work and play with our tribe, it gives us our purpose.
2) Purpose and Goals
During the COVID 19 holding pattern, business continuity is a must, but this also provides an opportunity to put your business in order and set goals for the future. As Richie Norton stated ‘Tidy your business by looking at your product offerings and categorize them by putting them into value grade buckets,’ which can be continued by Marie Kondō who states ‘The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.’
Working from home and having fewer distractions provides more time to reflect and drill down on your business goals and purpose, an opportunity to realign your business to market fit and what your brand stands for.
Take this time to undertake competition analysis alongside historic and current consumer research to find out what your business brand vision, values and positioning will be after COVID 19. Given habits take 3-6 weeks to take hold, the temporary confinement of your customers means during and on exit, their consumption behaviour will not be the same as it was pre-Coronavirus.
The knowledge you explore will produce freedom on purpose and goals; by understanding the ongoing and future customer needs provides space to develop previously unseen opportunities, to form new ways to connect with your customers and form new consumer habits.
3) Trust and Collaboration
Working from home, with increased productivity and flexibility, means that not everyone is in ‘work mode’ at the same time. Sending an email, instant message or What’s App does not equate to the instant response you are used to in a traditional office environment; this can start alarm bells ringing in your ears and frustration.
While working remotely there has to be an assumption of good intentions and trust and a clear understanding of requirements and collaboration, while utilizing the right communication methods at the right time.
A simple and effective tool to negate frustration and ensure collaboration and engagement is a shared diary, all team members noting when they are diarized to be in ‘work mode’ for example core hours of 10am till 4pm with flexi time around it, as IM do.
Never underestimate the power of personal verbal connection, picking up the phone or a quick VOIP call during core working hours increases trust and collaboration, as well as ensuring effective communication for the present and the future, and builds a further layer of engagement in your team. Out of hours send an email, but don’t expect an instant response!
These three suggestions put a strong focus on effective communication, which we trust and hope, will form new habits in your business and enhance your team’s engagement.
It’s quite simple; connect often, enable feedback loops and discussion touchpoints and never underestimate the power of personal verbal connection.
Contact us now and let IM help you optimise your business goals and purpose, through realigning your business to fit market changes and what your brand stands for.
Growth was weak but stabilising – until the coronavirus hit.
– OECD Economic Outlook, March 2020
Market instability will always uncover any underlying strengths and weaknesses within individual brands and businesses alike. For the latter, with no global economic relief in sight right now and a panicked market, it’s hard to face up to the need for a brand review or revamp when your primary focus is likely on tactical discounting and short-term cost savings for survival.
What is the difference between a brand refresh and a full rebrand?
In our experience, you can achieve major improvements to your competitive position with a simple brand refresh rather than invoking major changes or undertaking a full rebrand.
But, can this be done at a low cost?
The short answer, absolutely. A brand refresh can be done whilst minimising cost, time and distraction within your business and still enable you to re-engage your customers, win back your share of the market and create lasting benefits for years to come.
A brand refresh does not always mean investing in new logos and colours, although they may become part of the job. An effective brand refresh looks closely at the current customer experience. Following which, identifies ways in which you can restore faith in your product and gain momentum in your sector whilst providing high value to your customers in every facet of your business.
In service sectors – such as hotels, restaurants, wellness and events, the way to do this whilst minimising disruption to daily operations, is to prioritise key brand touchpoints. These are the ‘pain’ points as well as face to face opportunities to create a ‘wow’ for your customers.
Understanding the market means understanding your customers’ priorities.
Understanding your customers’ priorities in addition to understanding how your competitors are adapting to market conditions are both key components of the job. Insights like these will identify the kind of improvements that will strike the right note for your target audience, as well as your customers, in the current climate – including quick, easy wins for your business.
Instead of undermining your brand reputation with unsustainable discounting or cutting corners on quality, this is the time to respond in a more sensitive way to market conditions and set your sights on increased market share…at the right price.
86% of customers – whether clients or consumers – will pay more for a better experience.
– PwC UK Forecast
Trust in your workforce to deliver high value solutions.
Keeping your staff fully on board to deliver the best possible customer experience at every touch point can be difficult.
A brand refresh is an ideal opportunity to fully engage or re-engage your teams throughout your business, to be honest about the need to go the extra mile and trust them to deliver with full company support.
There may be less job churn at the moment, however, workforce motivation and commitment levels are transparent at the sharp end of service delivery. Because of this, maintaining and increasing commitment will determine success or failure whatever the no matter the environment the current market is facing.
Our approach for a brand refresh is simple, yet straightforward:
- Gain insights from both customers and competitors
- Innovate at key brand touchpoints
- Engage your workforce throughout the process
- Communicate with your audience about your new innovations
- Measure and review the refresh for predetermined success metrics
Are you looking to undertake a brand refresh, or perhaps you’d like to get an idea on where to start? Drop us a line, we’d love to help!
When was the last time you undertook a brand audit?
Having a strong brand is essential for your business. If your branding is not generating value, you are compromising opportunity.
A brand audit becomes a brand investment:
Any investment into your business will be rigorously considered against a set of parameters and ROI. A brand refresh or undertaking a rebranding initiative is very often considered when a business reaches a milestone. For example, when reaching 10, 15, 20 years in business, or when a new CMO/COO joins the company, presenting reason to rethink the status quo or to make improvements to the brand image.
Whilst these can make for sound courses of action, there is a more analytical approach required to well-rounded brand management.
Brand performance should be assessed and evaluated on a timely basis to ensure that your branding is in line with your vision and values, relevant to stakeholder groups – both external customers and internal – and consistently experienced across all touch points.
The significance of strong, relevant branding:
A powerful brand will inspire and engage your audience and ultimately increase conversions and sales. A strong, consistent brand retains customers and requires less spend to attract new ones. A powerful brand also cultivates referrals and commands a premium.
However, an inconsistent, irrelevant and or disconnected brand will not achieve desired results such as these.
What is a brand audit?
A calculated approach to brand management should involve regular brand audits. A brand audit, often termed a brand health check, is a thorough examination of a brand’s current position in the market, against the competition, providing a review of effectiveness. A comprehensive brand audit will reveal new growth opportunities for your business, and new ways to make your brand resonate with both existing and a new generation of target customers who will represent your brand’s long-term future. Even seemingly successful brands need a regular brand audit or health check to keep them on track to reach their goals.
In short, a brand audit will assess and evaluate the performance of your brand against a series of criteria including:
- Relevance to achieving your business vision and reflecting your established business values
- Your relevance in the marketplace to stakeholder groups – especially your primary target audience
- The integration of your brand’s visuals, services and products in relation to customer experience
- The consistency of your branding across all customer touch points.
A brand audit can be scaled to any business size, sector and customer base, and can be as thorough as required. Most importantly, undertaking a brand audit will deliver solutions that can be transformed into actionable results. Gaps in your branding will be identified (or not!) and investment into your rebrand, brand refresh or customer experience application efforts can be efficiently focused and tailored.
Keeping branding relevant and on track is important in driving brand value and relevance. Similarly to any other asset, your brand requires managing diligently through application, monitoring, evaluation and maintenance.
At IM London, we love branding and pride ourselves in being experts in maximising our clients’ brand value with strategic execution and considered creative solutions. If you need to assess your brand performance, need support with a brand audit or are looking to undertake a brand refresh, we’d love to speak to you about your branding goals.
Drop us a line at email@example.com!
‘Return on Experience’ (ROX) is being recognised as one of the best ways to realise more value from your business; for hotels and restaurants where experience is everything, it is a useful approach to business planning.
The return on investment to be gained from delivering a great guest experience is dependent for the most part on employees. Their knowledge, motivation, energy and know-how are as important, if not more important, than many aspects of the physical product, including technology.
Therefore investing in and measuring ROX, which takes into account employee engagement as well as financial results, guest satisfaction and efficiencies puts the spotlight on ensuring your employees’ experience within the organisation is as it should be.
According to Accenture, employers offering a great employee experience outperform the S&P Index by 122%
To retain fully engaged employees and offer them a great brand experience, taking the time to understand things from their perspective is the place to start.
This includes everything they see, feel, observe and experience throughout their journey within the organisation – not just their career development path. It includes the everyday, the here and now. The company culture and team spirit, the willingness of leaders and supervisors to take time to support their teams as well as providing the tools, technology and resources to excel at serving the guest at every touch point. This kind of support is expected by all your employees especially the most talented – the ones who can move on at any time to new and better opportunities.
Getting the right balance is hard; whilst younger employees may prioritise their development and growth opportunities, others may look for maximum flexibility to help them meet commitments to family, children and parents.
Good hotel leaders are well ahead in retaining great talent through cultures that enable people to be their best, which in itself builds social capital within the organisation and status externally as an employer. This is ROX at its best.
How can the ROX approach help ensure your brand’s ‘employee experience’ stacks up to the expectations of today’s workforce?
The answer is a virtuous circle that aims to embed high employee satisfaction which in turn drives guest satisfaction that results in guest loyalty and higher spend.
For a virtuous circle that embraces the employee brand experience as well as the guest’s brand experience, here are some key goals to frame an action plan
- Self-esteem – make internal brand ownership aspirational
- Influencers – encourage internal influencers to engage others
- Behaviours – recognise the right behaviour in performance management
- Value – identify & reward the creation of value in the guest’s eyes
- Financial – share and celebrate financial success
For help with employee experience, employee engagement, brand engagement, internal communications and Return on Experience: firstname.lastname@example.org
An inspirational vision or higher purpose is a must for organisations in all sectors, especially for generations Y and Z (currently 38% of the workforce and increasing to 58% in the next decade)
However, the very nature of inspirational words and statements of higher purpose can widen the gap between what is agreed in the board room and the everyday reality for employees who have to deliver.
Well crafted, high flying words do not in themselves drive the productivity or the improved customer experience and competitive edge they were designed for in the first place.
Brand vision from the inside out
If this rings a bell, it may be time to revisit your brand vision and brand purpose from an internal perspective.
Everyone wants to be inspired and most people come to work wanting to do a good job, but that brings an expectation that the leadership, systems and support will be in place to enable them to do that.
From this perspective, the time and resource put into supporting the delivery of the vision are as important as the vision itself.
If you ‘unpack’ the vision from an internal standpoint it becomes easier to create a way of embedding that vision throughout the organisation.
Behaviour and levels of engagement include individual feelings mixed with tangible needs, peer pressure and perceived problems.
Listen to your employees
Remove the corporate-speak about productivity and increased output and listen instead to teams and individuals talk about ‘how easy or difficult it is to get things done around here.’
This can unlock solutions for engagement – and improved customer experiences with higher productivity will invariably emerge from these kinds of conversations.
If you listen and capture this internal take on the best way forward, you can bring your vision and values alive with an execution plan that uses the language, structure, tools and support that gain trust and buy-in at all levels.
Effective employee engagement plans
For a more effective employee engagement plan, start the conversations around:
- The meaning of inspiration and vision from all angles
- How brand values help in every day at work
- What’s in it for employees when it comes to the brand promise
- How does the brand promise affect customers’ expectations?
- How can we build a brand vision journey from the ground up
The 80/20 rule holds true. It’s just turned on its head in this case.
YOUR WORKFORCE – ADVOCATES OR DETRACTORS?
For hotels, restaurants and event companies, 9 times out of 10 the value of your brand depends on your people.
Location and product quality are key but to gain a continuous price advantage, an engaged and motivated workforce delivering at every customer touch point is critical.
Employees and customers
Since employees have a much closer relationship with customers than senior executives, they are the ones who can make or break a brand’s reputation and market value.
However, to take the UK as an example, only 23% of the workforce is fully ‘engaged’ and it is reasonable to assume that service industries do not differ significantly from the rest.
If you took a straw poll of your workforce would you find advocates or indifference towards you as an Employer?
Either way, statistics show there is a big opportunity to gain market edge right (up to 147%) now by recognising the contribution employees make to the value of our brand on the balance sheet.
At the same time, the workforce is changing fast.
Millennials and Generation Z, who demand a reason to stay with their employers rather than the other way round, will soon make up the majority of employees.
In fact, by next year, Millennials will constitute 50% of the workforce.
So there is no option but to prepare an employee engagement strategy that is fit for purpose and inspires employee loyalty across generations.
Employees and their Employers
To initiate a strategic engagement plan, mapping the ‘employee journey’ through the company will help to scope out a realistic strategy.
Simply mapping a career path from start to finish is not enough; the journey for engagement requires careful consideration at every touchpoint in daily interactions between employee and employer.
Similar in fact to mapping a customer journey but from a fresh perspective.
There are many success stories out there.
At a recent meeting with Cycas Hospitality, winner of best hotel employer 2018, I discovered from founder John Wagner and Culture Coach Janet Roberts that the Cycas vision of “making its hotels the best places to work as well as to stay” has given a simple, singular direction to the complex task of delivering an effective employee communications and engagement programme.
The outcome speaks for itself from both employee satisfaction and a bottom-line point of view.
There is no escape from the reality that successful employee engagement and the competitive edge it brings demand as much care and consideration as customer engagement.
Also, like customer engagement, you have to be ’on it’ all the time.
87% OF EMPLOYEES ARE NOT ENGAGED AT WORK
For service businesses like hotels and airlines where employees ‘are the brand’ this is a great opportunity to gain market edge.
According to Gallup 2018, ‘companies with highly engaged employees outperform the market by 147%’.
However 1 in 5 employees are saying they are not being managed in a motivating way.
At best they may be indifferent to your organisation and at worst may be damaging your reputation by sharing their views internally and externally.
As a result company value can go up or down at lightning speed and business size appears to be irrelevant
Employee engagement and competitive edge
On the up side CEOs and owners, whatever their business goals, are waking up to the importance of optimising their human capital.
They see a large untapped opportunity for improvement in performance which will deliver higher employee motivation, improved customer satisfaction along with growth in shareholder value.
However, there is quite a gap between understanding the opportunity and the appetite for action, mainly because there is no quick fix.
Employee engagement delivers long term sustainable returns rather solving immediate issues around profitability.
Attracting, motivating, engaging and retaining great talent will be the difference between winning and losing over the next 2-5 years, so future proofing the business now is worth very careful consideration.
Where to start?
Whilst innovative technology is everywhere and is a fantastic enabler, it is not the solution.
From experience, successful internal engagement hangs on how well you translate your brand purpose or vision into an inspirational and deliverable set of internal actions; this calls for an approach to employee engagement that is as considered as your approach to customer engagement.
To get started, see IM London’s simple pointers below for framing an effective internal engagement plan.
Internal engagement framework:
- Revisit your brand purpose from an internal perspective
- Set employee engagement goals & measures
- Align goals & outcomes to your business plan
- Map the employee ‘journey’ with all touch points
- Communicate and action!
With the right framework in place and experienced individuals engaged in driving it forward, the process is straightforward but to make it successful and sustainable the devil is in the detail all the way.
That’s OK though, because the return on investment is worth it!