It’s the end of the year. You want to send a staff message.
Something uplifting, engaging. Something that’s going to let people know the last twelve months of hard work, trials and challenge is appreciated. They’ve made a difference. It’s a good idea, but how do we make sure we're hitting the right notes?
Who sends it?
This is time for the leader to step up. People are in a reflective mood at Christmas time. It’s a season steeped in emotion, family and honesty, so a heartfelt message from the person steering the ship – even if it’s been ghost-written by someone else – is just the ticket here.
What’s the medium?
Seems obvious, but worth stating that you should choose your medium to suit your audience and context. Emails are quick and free, but if your CEO send regular all-staffers, it might not land with the impact you’re after. Or if your workforce is predominantly on the factory floor, for instance, perhaps a printed card or a flyer might resonate more effectively. Or a big printed notice in a communal area like a canteen.
If your people are on the road a lot, a recorded voice message sent via their mobile device. How can you make it meaningful and out of the ordinary? We came across a CEO in A not-for-profit organisation who would hand write her Christmas message to staff, then scan it and send as an attachment.
What should it say?
The million-dollar question is, ‘what effect do you want it to have?’ Start there and work backwards.
There’s not a right or wrong way to do this – actually, there are lots of obviously wrong ways to do it - but a good rule of thumb is to try and address the following points.
- What has the last year meant to you personally – the sender
- Recognise challenges and adversity, don’t shy away from it – if they exist and you don’t acknowledge them it’ll feel insincere
- Give kudos to teams or individuals who personify desirable values and behaviours – show everyone what ‘good’ looks like
- Look forward to the coming New Year - January is statistically the time people are most likely to start looking for a new job. What is there to look forward to if they stay?
The golden rule for employee communications is to always try and view everything as your workforce will view it. It may be Christmas, but if they’ve had a hard year, you need to take that into account and moderate your tone and content accordingly.
And most importantly, remember to say thank you – thanks for your work, your support, for turning up every day.
A pat on the back is a priceless thing, especially at Christmas.
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