Low Engagement = Underperforming Workforce

Tigger Glasses 1

Do you ever find yourself talking about a project or initiative, and you get that look?  The one that tells you your teammates have no idea what you're talking about?  It's physical proof your communication suffers from low engagement, leading to an underperforming workforce.

Recently, I posted that talking with disengaged staff can look like trying to explain a jigsaw puzzle to a dog (clearly, Tigger was not prepared for a 1,500 piece project).  Low engagement is a serious operational problem that leaves workers feeling more than just uninformed; it can cause massive anxiety, leading to low confidence, frustration, stress, and burnout.

Organizations are working through and refining their best practices for new work models, including hybrid, remote, and deskless environments.  It's complicated, and it requires patience from both leadership and the workforce.

The most important tool in every organization's toolbox is internal communications, and by extension, the highest need during this time of change is engagement.  The tool itself is critical and must be used properly to create the necessary dialogue to keep people informed and invested in organizational change.

What's missing in the current environment?  Why isn't the comms plan from 2019 landing with the desired outcomes?

Let's start with why your internal communications strategy might cause low engagement in 2024:

  1. You have new people on the team
  2. You have staff members taking on new tasks or hybrid roles due to attrition
  3. Individuals within your teams have different needs and priorities than they did prior to working in isolation during the pandemic
  4. Chaos and order tolerance for your team is unknown, so your messaging misses the mark
  5. Your teams no longer benefit from close physical proximity
  6. You've added new technologies and platforms to your communications channels
  7. Your communications policy is not up-to-date and has not been 'launched' internally

To solve these challenges and overcome an underperforming workforce, get familiar with the foundation of a functional internal communications plan.

If you have all of the below pieces in place, review them to make necessary updates.  If you don't have all of the pieces, spend time discussing ways to build them with your internal communications professional(s).

The No 1 Rule

Start the conversation this way...

In the above list, numbers 1 - 4 can be addressed by understanding the culture types, drivers, and communications needs of your organization (line #1 in the image above).  Different from a DISC or Myers Briggs survey, you will want to use a tool such as the Helix Assessment, which uncovers how your TEAMS need to receive information, as opposed to individuals only.

Beyond that, the information you gain will tell you more about the most impactful style (goal-oriented vs deep dive detail) that will ensure your messages get read and acted upon.  The point is to learn how to meet your audiences where they are rather than providing information that over (or under) whelms them.

L-12 Services will lead a discussion, Comms for Culture Type: Meet Your Workforce Where They Are, January 24, 12:00 ET.  Follow the link for a free ticket to join the conversation and learn more from Dr. Rachel Headley, CEO of Rose Group Int'l and President of Helix, and Lizabeth Wesely-Casella.

List item #5 can be addressed through creative workarounds such as worksprints, which we discuss in further detail in this post.

Item #6 aligns with line 2 from the image above.  Perform a channel assessment to validate which channels work for the team.

Next, update (or create) an easy-to-use, comprehensive communications policy to spell out which types of information belong on the communications channels you choose to maintain after the channel assessment, addressing item #7.


Contact us today at 202.415.6987 or info@L12Services.com if you want to enhance collaboration and engagement. Together, we can create an environment that drives success through effective communication.

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About Lizabeth Wesely-Casella

Lizabeth Wesely-Casella is a skilled strategic advisor specializing in attrition mitigation, workflow management, process improvement, and culture.With over 20 years of experience as an administrator and policy and programming consultant, her work has contributed to successful project outcomes in federal health policy, international program development, for-profit, and non-profit/association management.

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