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Don’t Overlook the Data Behind Comms

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  • Ger Connery, CEO at Sentel, expands on how essential data-driven decision-making is when communicating in your business.

    Small business owners in the UK are being urged to develop their employee engagement strategies after a report found that 9 out of 10 UK workers are disengaged with work (Young, 2023).  We asked communication professionals for their thoughts on how organisations can use communication data to drive better performance and increase employee satisfaction.

    It’s time to assess your communication channels strategy and tailor your approach.  New year means new challenges. Strategizing for 2024 will be particularly important given that 76% of UK respondents to Gallups’ engagement survey described themselves as being not engaged. (Gallup, n.d.).  Gallup estimates that low engagement is costing $8.8 trillion globally! Anna Sawyer, principal partner at Gallup, encourages that there's a huge opportunity for organisations to unleash their potential, so what can the data tell us?

    Communication analytics can provide a wealth of information that will help organisations derive insights and improve their performance.  By utilizing the data behind fixed line, mobile, video, email and chat comms, organisations can get real information that will help drive their comms strategy whether internally to create efficiencies and positivity or externally to improve customer experience. 

    Take call handling on fixed line for one. Ask the business, do we know how many calls we are handling?  Do we know how many calls are being missed on fixed line and MS Teams?  Are these calls being returned?  Are staff too busy on internal MS Teams calls that they are missing important customer calls and does this lead to employee dissatisfaction? Are we measuring call traffic against key metrics on response times and duration?  All this data helps identify trends and the ability to put measures in place and make data-driven decisions to optimise performance and outcomes.  This type of data will give the evidence and insights to address any communication weaknesses.

    Collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams have skyrocketed, especially as remote work and hybrid work environments have become more prevalent. With more than 270 million users, MS Teams is the most popular business communication platform in the world (Digitalwell, n.d.).  While these tools are incredibly useful for team collaboration and communication, employers may wonder how employees are using MST’s, activity, and productivity wise, internal and client side. Workplace analytics!

    How popular is MS Teams and Zoom in your organisation post-pandemic? We need to gather and analyse the data across all the channels including email, chats and calls in a coordinated approach so that we can identify patterns, trends and ultimately areas for improvement across the business.  Analysing behavioural insights like comms patterns and how individuals and teams communicate can help create strategies that optimise for maximum effectiveness, reduce bottlenecks and improve workflow efficiency.  Collaboration results and patterns - are employees using the right tools for the right results?  Teams chat might get a quicker decision for example, or long chains could move to a channel chat perhaps instead of email for quick decision making.  Continuous data will allow the business to meet evolving comms needs and stay aligned with goals.

    The extent of tracking depends on the organisation’s policies and privacy regulations.  It would be important to maintain a balance between monitoring and privacy for most. It could be a problem with certain organisations regarding privacy and excessive monitoring. It’s up to each organisation to establish, communicate and respect their own company privacy rules.  If a user utilises private or public chats how are these handled?  Therefore, a baseline approach to reporting initially is required so as not to exclude those organisations wanting to avoid intense employee scrutinizing. 

    Employers should communicate clearly with employees about the extent of monitoring and tracking in MS Teams, including any third-party tools that may be used.  Ideally, employees should give informed consent to any monitoring or tracking that takes place.

    Employers should make it known to the employees that the use the data collected from Microsoft Teams and other channels is to improve overall team productivity and collaboration, rather than focusing on individual employee performance or using it to micromanage.

    It’s so important that organisations understand how different communication channels, messages and interactions impact the business goals, enabling refinements for better efficiencies and external customer engagement.  Soon, AI and machine learning will automate routine tasks and analyse these vast amounts of data to provide predictive insights for more informed decision-making.

    HR Strategy

    Data provides powerful insights for data-driven decisions for HR and strategy.  Users will have a powerful tool to address challenges in HR, employee engagement, protecting work-life balance, employee efficiency, general performance efficiencies - operation time spent etc.  Employers can protect work-life boundaries through reporting on employee numbers that are collaborating outside normal working hours and patterns and trends of employee engagement.  Does the organisation need to change strategy, for example offering flexible working hours as comms data patterns show most work employees interact between hours of 10am and 7pm?

    Taking it a step further, we can look to analyse how employees are working, remotely and hybrid.  Does this change over time? Do we need to change strategy to suit?  What would be a more efficient way of working?

    Make Meetings Effective

    By looking at meeting hours data by number of attendees by duration, Managers can help teams build better ways of collaborating and better habits to contribute to a better working life.  Do Managers attend meetings with employees for coaching and mentoring?  It’s important to understand that focus time data.  Are employees moving away from screen time for wellbeing focus?  Are team leaders actively encouraging breaks?

    Utilise the data to make meetings effective and drive positive changes. We can see that you are working beyond core hours 59% this month therefore….

    Cancel or shorten meetings on review.  Analytics can provide some surprising results here, you may find employees are engaged for a longer portion of their week than expected in certain meetings.  Results of changes can be measured over time.  Are efficiencies improving?  What were the benefits of that change we made by reducing daily meetings to 3 a week instead of 5?

    A mixed approach to access employee engagement, customer experience and internal comms is best. It’s vital to use the data alongside qualitative methods to get that deeper insight into your customer and employee behaviours.

    This article appears in the Big Data edition of Sync NI magazine. To receive a free copy click here.

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