ENGAGING EMPLOYEES THROUGH STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
A brand new book serves as a modern-day guide to employee communication.
We've pulled together best practices, profiles and case studies from around the world to illustrate how the best of the best engage internal stakeholders through leading communication skills, strategies and tactics.
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Authors Mark Dollins and Jon Stemmle joined Sharon MacIntosh and Sharon Phillips on their industry leading podcast, EE Voice, to talk about the book.
Why we wrote this book . . .
It's about time.
Employee communication has always been a bit of a mystery for practitioners, and an almost invisible career path for students of communication. While there have been many well-written stories about engaging internal stakeholders, most professional communicators have been learning on the job (often by trial and error), and applying some of what they know from the world of PR to the discipline. Students tend to get a single chapter, or perhaps a case study about the topic, in a book or broader curriculum about PR or strategic communication.
Even before COVID, we saw the need for a deeper, more comprehensive and integrated look not only at communicating with employees, but with engaging them strategically for the purpose of accelerating performance for the enterprises that employ them.
In the meantime, C-suite executives have been developing a functional understanding of the role and importance of internal communications for decades. As they’ve led their organizations through significant change agendas, begun digital transformations or initiated cultural change, they’ve come to realize the critical strategic importance of the discipline.
With growing numbers of employee communication jobs, a need for greater education and a growing awareness of how the discipline could enable performance, the stage was already set for something big.
And the lightning rod turned out to be a global pandemic.
2020 changed everything for employee communications. It put the importance of strategic employee communication at the top of the priority list: internal communication on steroids. As organizations sent employees home overnight as a measure of protection from the global pandemic, the issues of connectivity, engagement and culture became far greater business issues than simply deploying new technologies to help more remote workforces communicate, or broadcasting email messages to employees to tell them what the organization wanted them to know.
Employee communication moved squarely into the spotlight as a strategic tool that could enable enterprises to survive, or better yet, thrive in the most disruptive environment ever to hit a digital, global economy.
There could be no better time to take a step back, chronicle and methodically organize a text that could orient students and professionals alike to what the best of employee engagement looks like, strategically, through the eyes of the communicators who are among the best across the globe.
They’ve spent decades transitioning their discipline from tactical and one-directional, to strategic, omni-directional and results driven. These are their stories, and we’re pleased and proud to share them -- helping create a new generation of strategic employee communication and engagement professionals.
I have waited for just this book on internal communication for a long time. Both Stemmle and Dollins are highly experienced professional communicators who also embrace research and theory development in strategic communication. Readers will immediately recognize the command of these authors over the employee communication function informed by their positive and upright emphasis on strategic goal setting and execution. And when the authors get down to brass tacks in their case studies as well as their elucidation of tools and tactics, readers will reimagine how to DO employee communication. All this comes together in a most readable book! I encourage every practitioner and teacher of employee communication to get and to use this book in their work.
—Glen T. Cameron, Emeritus Gregory Chair of Journalism Research, Missouri School of Journalism
Finally, a book that directly links business success to effective employee engagement. Through personal experience and case studies, Mark Dollins and Jon Stemmle connect the dots between employee communications and business results. Important reading for future leaders in business and communications.
—Ron Culp, Professional Director, Public Relations and Advertising Program, DePaul University
During more than two decades as a chief human resources officer for three iconic companies, employee communication has played a prominent role, and continues to be one of my top priorities today at GE. From ensuring the effectiveness of change leadership efforts—to strengthening the employee experience—employee communication is one of the most critical levers for companies and leaders alike. In this book, [Dollins and Stemmle] go well beyond the fundamentals of communications and illustrate the need for stronger and more strategic employee communications, particularly as organizations navigate a world in which the only constant seems to be rapid change.
—Kevin Cox, Chief Human Resources Officer, General Electric Company
In Engaging Employees Through Strategic Communication, Dollins and Stemmle provide grounded insights into the often-overlooked but inescapably essential skill of communicating to engage and influence teams. Their approach offers the rare combination of imparting learning through a compelling good read. Equally valuable for aspiring students and experienced professionals.
—Tod J. MacKenzie, Retired Chief Communications Officer, PepsiCo, Dine Brands, Aramark
It’s about time that we have such a terrific textbook on employee engagement—and who better to do it than Mark Dollins and Jon Stemmle! The authors masterfully provide us with context, tips and case studies based on research and validated by decades of experience—theirs and that of other experts.
—Maril MacDonald, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Gagen MacDonald
Good communication skills are imperative for good leadership, and good, clear communication is more important than ever. Yet the topic of communications is often ignored in business school curricula. Mark Dollins and Jon Stemmle understand this and have now addressed this gap. As they state in the first chapter of this groundbreaking new textbook, communication is a critical enabler of business performance. An award-winning communications executive Dollins has led some of the largest and most important employee and leadership communications initiatives in the world. This, combined with Stemmle’s experience as a professor of strategic communication, results in a valuable and important new resource that combines academic rigor with real-world experience and practical advice for every business leader or student who aspires to be a leader one day.
—Jen McClure, CEO, JEM & Distinguished Principal Fellow, Marketing & Communications Center, The Conference Board,
Employee communications and engagement have always been critical disciplines, but the pace of organization[MD3] change and the impact of the global pandemic has literally exploded the need for communication professionals who understand how it works — with real-world strategies, skills and tactics. Mark Dollins and Jon Stemmle have nailed it with Engaging Employees through Strategic Communications. From students to communications professionals and chief communication officers, this a must-have, must-read new bible of employee Communications. It’s a clear and compelling road map to unlocking discretionary effort from internal stakeholders to drive tangible business results.
—Colleen J. Rooney, Chief Communications & CSR Officer, Board of Advisors
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