According to a recent study, the number of communications pros who value workplace digital signage as an effective way to share information and values across departments has risen in the past year[note]Gatehouse State of the Sector 2020[/note]. We decided to tap into the expertise of internal communications consultants and practitioners to understand the reasons behind this growing trend.
Shel Holtz has spent 40 years as a corporate communications author, consultant, and speaker. He shared his insights on why digital signage should be an essential part of communications strategy.
“For a variety of reasons, internal communicators tend to shrug off digital signage. In most cases, some department other than communications acquired the system and it may not be configured well for employee communication purposes. Those that are handed digital signage responsibility undertake it reluctantly; it’s usually at the bottom of the tactic list.
Used strategically, though, digital signage can be unbelievably powerful. There are organizations using it to reinforce culture and values, to create awareness of local events, to get news out in a hurry, and even to drive traffic to the intranet.
Communicators would do well to pay more attention to digital signage and get acquainted with some of its newer capabilities (like data visualization). A “not-invented-here” attitude will hold you back from what could be a game-changer in your organization, especially (but not exclusively) if you have employees who don’t spend their days sitting at desks.”
Six Benefits of Workplace Digital Signage:
1. Create a customer-centric team
Instead of simply telling your employees that the customer matters, subtly reinforce this message by showing your team what your customers are saying in real-time. This method is particularly effective for B2C companies. Sphero, a smart toy company, uses our Instagram Wall to show customers’ latest photos from around the world on screens in their offices (case study here).
2. Encourage employees to communicate with you
Historically, digital signage was a one-way channel for managers to communicate information downward to their employees. Today, there are several technologies that IC managers can use to foster two-way communication with their team.
- Internal Social Media: Fully 50% of employees post about their employer on social media[note]Weber Shandwick: Employees Rising: Seizing the Opportunity in Employee Activism[/note]. While this may be cause for concern, it’s also an opportunity to engage employees, strengthen your internal brand, and keep a pulse on how employees feel.
- One way to leverage internal social media is by encouraging employees to share to a custom hashtag that’s displayed in break rooms or cafeterias. At Enplug, we tag our weekend adventures, culinary creations, and travel photos on Instagram using #enplugkitchen, and the posts are featured on a screen in our cafeteria.
- Another option is to ask employees to share using a private Instagram account, closed Facebook group, or dedicated private channels like Yammer, Chatter, and Cotap (more details from Shel Holtz’s blog).
- Internal Polling: Sites like PollEverywhere make it simple to set up SMS-powered employee polls. Examples might include corporate training, voting on the next team event, or voting on which feature to build next. Display the live poll results with digital signage to increase participation and interest.
3. Boost employee engagement using transparency
You don’t have to be as radically transparent as Buffer with your team’s key information to know the importance of sharing key data with your employees. Freely sharing important numbers across your company helps boost transparency, which is vital for employee engagement.
Iain Adams, former Head of Internal Communications at Airbus, told us that “today’s employee is hungry for information and content that increases their sense of belonging and loyalty to their company.”
In fact, recent research ranked transparency as the single most important factor in engagement[note]TinyPulse Employee Engagement Survey[/note]. There are many services that can help you pull together your important metrics like Geckoboard or Klipfolio.
4. Recognize top performers
While many companies turn to raises and bonuses to recognize top performers, a McKinsey study found that praise and commendation from managers is the single most effective way to foster top performance[note]McKinsey Motivating people: Getting beyond money[/note]. Digital signage gives managers a simple way to recognize their top performers in a format the whole team can see. You can display performance dashboards in your offices or create and upload custom graphics for major achievements to displays in your offices. You may also want to recognize employee milestones like anniversaries.
Grace Spalding, an internal communications coordinator with CustomInk, creates slides each month to highlight the names of everyone with an anniversary that month. She adds a photo for employees celebrating double digits on the team. Grace told us that the Inker-versary program is “our most popular and successful program… It creates a wonderful sense of community when teams are distributed across multiple states.”
5. Keep your team on the pulse of the industry and competitors
You may have Google Alerts set up for every mention of your company and industry, but your sales, support, or operations teams? Not so much. Yet a high-level overview of your industry and competitor news is important knowledge for all your employees. Display relevant RSS news feeds on screens throughout your offices so employees can see the most important updates at a glance.
6. Connect with offline employees
Some of your team may be in front of their computers all day, which makes it simple to communicate using email, intranet, or messaging. But what if your workforce includes manufacturing or warehousing? You might find it harder to reach these employees using a channel that requires them to use a computer or mobile device. Instead, you can share announcements, reinforce safety messages, and recognize employees using highly visible wall-mounted displays or projectors.
While digital signage is sometimes overlooked in internal communications, with the right strategy and technology it can be a powerful way to reach employees. Combine one-way content like announcements and news with organic dialogue like social media and polling for maximum effect.
Enplug’s display software is the simplest way to show internal social media feeds, industry news, announcements, and metrics dashboards on displays in your offices. To learn more, get a free demo to see if we’re a good match for your organization!
Special thanks to Shel Holtz, Grace Spalding, and Iain Adams for their contributions to this article.
Several photos in this article are from HubSpot’s FreeStockPhotos project.