Published: 28 June 2016

How do you engage hard to reach groups within your organisation?

Different people need and respond to different forms of engagement. Like people, different groups within your organisations may be harder to reach and engage with. They may lack easy access to technology, they may be located outside of the organisation’s headquarters or they might lack time. 

Hard to reach groups can vary from home workers, volunteers, senior leadership team, those not on email, part-time workers and those who do not work at a desk or in a single location. At a recent CharityComms Internal Comms Group meeting, we discussed how to overcome the challenge of reaching those individuals and groups. Here are some of the tried and tested tips suggested by the group.

“Tools not rules” 

Often when an organisation’s workforce is dispersed across a wide area, people may be very engaged locally but not as engaged with the wider organisation. In this instance, providing a local comms framework can benefit local groups. Empower regional managers and give them the freedom to take control of their comms. 

Be personal

Make messages relevant to a region or group with a tailored approach. This can mean thinking about the style and format of messages. During the discussion, one organisation found that a hard to reach group all read magazines in the staff room. They decided to publish internal comms pieces that emulated this style to better engage with them. 

Test lots of approaches 

Testing approaches helps you discover what works best for different groups. Some found videos helpful to ensure home and remote workers are included in staff briefings. They don’t have to be expensive and sometimes can be done on a smartphone camera. Other popular approaches include Twitter, Facebook, Yammer, blogs on the intranet and webinars.

Digital methods will not be suitable for certain groups and sometimes face-to-face conversations can be extremely powerful. Other methods that do not rely on digital technologies include hot desking to break up silos, printed newsletters sent to home addresses, networking events at staff conferences, and even posters on the back of the toilet door! 

Use targeted comms 

Understand that not all staff or volunteers need to or want to know everything. Ask yourself whether the message you are sending is a ‘need to know’ or ‘nice to know’ and signpost accordingly. 

There will always be people you struggle to reach in your organisations. The best approach is to recognise that they will respond to different messages, formats and frequencies and adapt your resources accordingly.  

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Sarah Rushworth, account manager, Agenda Consulting

Sarah joined Agenda in October 2013. She has a BA in English literature and has worked in various sales and account management positions, most recently as the sales and marketing manager for a company selling academic online resources to schools worldwide. Sarah ensures Agenda's clients get the most from their products and services.