Numb workers? How to save employee engagement

Numb workers? How to save employee engagement

Throughout my professional career, I’ve had the chance to work in several significant international corporations.

Every morning, I used to open my email, and as part of my email cleanup routine, I’d run through subject lines and delete most of my company’s corporate and executive announcement emails in one clean sweep. Considering the aforementioned action, it should be pretty clear that I almost never actually read those messages, let alone, acted upon them.

Did I ever stop to consider how much effort was invested in writing those emails? Did I ever consider that they might contain important information? I did. However, I was simply so busy that I did not have the time to adequately process each of these messages. And, to tell you the truth, their presence as unread messages in my inbox simply made me more and more stressed out. Therefore, I deleted them.

The receiver becomes the sender

In each of these companies, I worked hard and invested enormous amounts of effort. Eventually, I crossed the bridge and took on several executive roles. Suddenly, I caught myself dealing with the same problem from the other direction – employees were not opening my announcements and emails.

I tried promoting my organization’s goals and reaching out to every employee within my sphere of influence. Even with my countless hours of polishing and rewriting my emails, as well as incorporating graphics and videos, employee engagement remained low.

I believe that almost every executive manager has had a similar experience, but this isn’t just the lament of an ignored executive. Gallup research confirms that low employee engagement is estimated to cost the U.S. economy roughly $370 billion per year!

How do we fix poor employee engagement?

However, are employees really the ones to blame? They do their best to surf the information overload tsunami and often end up under the waves. Under these circumstances, can we really expect them to open and engage with corporate announcements that are often stale or irrelevant?

While we can set high expectations and hope employees open every message we send them, the reality is different and we need to recognize that. Employees are frequently disengaged and it is our job to bring them back into the fold. To do this, we need to get creative.

As I was venting to a friend, he told me a story about how some groups in a corporation he worked in used to strategically place “Dear John” newsletters in special frames in the restrooms. The content was intentionally brief and humorous, but conveyed key messages the organization wanted delivered. Obviously, these enjoyed a captive audience that for the most part quickly engaged with their content!

What can we do?

There are several steps executives can take to deal with the problem:

  1. Avoid sending more emails than you would be willing to read. Plus, try and avoid sending announcements and corporate procedures via email as there are better platforms such as the corporate social platform, Intranet or portal.
  2. Use marketing techniques such as email campaign best practices to ensure employee engagement. For example, make sure that the subject is explanatory enough to get employees’ attention while keeping it short and to the point.
  3. Send short concise messages. Long messages often don’t end up being read because they take excessive amounts of time.

Here at Knowmail, we believe technology and innovation should help achieve high employee engagement. Feel free to contact us via if you want more details about our Company Goal promoter and attention management tools.

Oded Avital
Oded Avital

Oded Avital is Knowmail's co-founder and COO with over 20 years experience in sales, Biz Dev, product and operation management in corporate and startups.

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