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5 min read

My job is all about open and honest communication, something I value above all else in the workplace. Sometimes, though, it’s not easy to achieve. How can we make sure our message is heard above the noise of the constant communication that employees receive? How can we make it stand out as something extra-special? How can we add a personal, human touch to workplace communications?

Think about how you feel when you receive a handwritten note, or letter in the mail. You know it’s something just for you, and that care has been taken. I like to try to emulate that feeling as much as I can in our employee communications. Sometimes I even take it literally, and write letters to our staff.

I’ve found that it results in really positive responses, and I’m here to say that the broadcasted 'letter' might be one of the most effective methods of employee communication.

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Here are a few ways that I’ve written a letter or two to our employees to move the needle on employee engagement:

Asking for feedback

Recently, I wrote a letter to my Reward Gateway colleagues to gather their thoughts about our Global Business Update – a regular event we host to connect our global workforce and keep everyone up to date with any new developments. I’d sent out multiple straightforward surveys, but wasn’t getting as many responses as I’d hoped for, so I decided it was time for a different approach. I wrote a personal opener to grab attention and connect with my audience better:

Hi {Employee name},
I'm hoping you can help me out. It might sound quite silly for me to say this, but it's been playing over in my mind like a stuck record, and it's at the point now where it's begun to keep me up at night, which is far from ideal...

 

I used this letter to ask my colleagues for their honest thoughts on our event – and I’m glad I did. It engaged people effectively, and got far more responses than the surveys I’d previously sent out. From this round of responses, we were able to recreate a new version of the GBU into something even better that’s in tune with our company mission “let’s make the world a better place to work!” (More on that this summer, when we host our new-and-improved business update.)

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Updates and public employee recognition

If your business is large, with employees spread out over multiple locations, it's not physically possible to have everyone join in all the time. In this case, personal recognition messages can help with inclusivity and making people feel special. Ren Patel (that guy over there!), who leads our Client Success Team in London, sent a letter to Reward Gateway staff to update them on how the team was performing and the successes they had achieved:

I’ve written this letter because, much as I’d like you to, you can’t all come to our Tribe Days and see what we focus on and the key KPIs we’ve achieved together…

 

 


… Can you imagine the smile on my face when I found we’d smashed our upsell target by 141% in Q2?…

Whatever role you play on the RG journey, I want to thank you for your support, effort and commitment and especially over the last quarter.

Ren’s letter received an incredible response from the teams across Reward Gateway – it really stood out from the crowd when it came to our recognition communications. By showcasing his letter on our employee engagement platform, boom!, I could see the likes and comments from all over the globe, helping connect our employees, one “Dear” at a time.

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Recruiting for a new role

Letters can also be used as a way to communicate outside of the business, and to encourage great people to join. Shelley, who was our Group SVP of Sales at the time, chose to write an open letter to an imaginary sales leader who had left for Mars, as a way to get her recruitment post to land with a bang:

To my sales leader,

You have left me to go to Mars. I’m going to miss you so much and I want to tell you why you were so incredible.

This letter was shared on LinkedIn – it was a super-original and effective way for Shelley to make sure we found the right person for the job, and said a lot more about what she was looking for than a traditional job advertisement would have. It also helped with getting her colleagues engaged and on board with the search.

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Four tips to write your best employee communications letter

Generating a great employee communications tactic is much more than choosing a perfect “stamp” — it’s all about putting your personal spin on it and knowing what engages your employees. Having written a few letters in my time, here are a few tips to make yours stand out from the crowd:

  • Use “I” as much as you can, and try and express your own feelings, thoughts and aims – this makes your message feel more personal.
  • The most important part of any letter is the first line – so think about it carefully. I’d recommend tying in an anecdote at the very beginning to hook your reader. Humor always works well – people are much more likely to keep reading your letter if you’ve made them laugh.

  • Before the first line, your subject line (what people see in an email header or the platform newsfeed, for example) is key to the success of your content. Personalizing those subject lines with name tokens can increase open rates by 50%, and lead to even higher clickthroughs and improve engagement, so you want to build on that personal tone throughout the entire body content, too.

  • Don’t overdo it! Letters work well when they’re a surprise and a novelty – the fact that they’re a rare occurrence conveys the importance of the message you’re trying to get out. If your letters are too frequent, staff may start thinking of them in the same way as they do spam emails – so keep them sporadic and keep them special.

I’d love to hear more about communications tactics that help make your employees sit up and say “hello.” Tell me more in the comments.

Author

Catrin Lewis

Catrin Lewis
Reward Gateway

As Head of Global Engagement and Internal Communications, Catrin's main focus is to make Reward Gateway a better place to work. Using the Engagement Bridge™ model, she drives our mission, purpose and values while adding sparkle and creativity to our internal communications.

The making of an agile working office and its effect on employee engagement Watch Video »
The making of an agile working office and its effect on employee engagement Watch Video »
The making of an agile working office and its effect on employee engagement Watch Video »
The making of an agile working office and its effect on employee engagement Watch Video »

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