There’s been a lot written about how you need to know your audience in order to communicate effectively with them, and this is especially true with a targeted medium like digital signage.
If you show messages your audience doesn’t care about, that aren’t relevant to them, they’ll simply stop looking at your screens. After all, they most likely have a phone that gives them access to lots of things they’re interested in.
Your digital signage needs to be more enticing, or at least more immediate, than the entirety of the world wide web they have at their fingertips.
In our day-to-day lives, generalizing about people is often frowned upon. But when looking at a group of employees as a whole, a bit of generalization can be useful.
A few years ago, Inc. Magazine wrote an article about six different employee types common in the workplace. You can use these categories as a starting point to understand the people who work for your organization and what motivates them.
1. Totally Committed
These people are all in. Work is the most important thing in their lives, and is what gives them a sense of accomplishment and meaning.
They like workplaces that have plenty of perks on-site that make it easy to stay at work – things like gyms, nap rooms, showers, relaxation areas, TV and playrooms, cafés and chefs, and so on. Basically, the line between work and home is blurred in their ideal workplace.
What sort of messages would engage such a person? Obviously, messages that promote or advertise the various on-site perks would appeal. If food and drink are available on the premises, menu boards would be appreciated, especially if it ties to a POS ordering and queuing system to streamline the whole process.
In fact, tying any reservation system to the digital signs (as opposed to making people go to a webpage or intranet page) would be useful. This can even extend to digital room signs mounted outside shared spaces.
And since they’re really invested the company, messages and videos that promote various initiatives the organization is involved in would be welcomed by these folks, like visuals that reinforce the values of the company and the mission statement, but also charities and community efforts.
While the totally committed are really into their organization as a whole and believe in what it’s trying to accomplish, Old-Fashioned employee types are all about their own career. The specifics of the company itself may or may not be a factor.
What they really want is to work at a single place for most or all of their lives. They want security and to know their place in the overall scheme of things.
Metrics can engage these employees to give them a sense of confidence in the workplace.
Use your digital signs to show them how the company is measuring up against stated objectives. Leaderboards can display all kind of information – from competitive analysis of the company versus competitors to how departments are progressing towards goals, and even how individuals stack up against one another.
Messages that tout the tradition and longevity of the origination are also sure to get noticed.
Messages about training and professional development opportunities might also appeal to old-fashioned employee types since more skills could mean advancement within the organization.
And be sure to recognize their long-term commitment to your organization with anniversary and birthday announcements.
3. Higher Purpose
These employees want to feel that they are making a difference in the world at large. They’ll remain loyal to the company as long as it parallels their ideals. Again, charities the organization has contributed to would be good to promote on screens.
Be sure to also advertise how employees can contribute money to causes they feel are important, maybe with the organization matching amounts. Donating time can also be an option – many modern companies allow a certain amount of extra PTO for volunteerism.
Green initiatives are almost always engaging for Higher Purpose employees. Energy dashboards can be a great way to engage them with digital signs showing current consumption and goals for electricity, water and so on.
Coupled with conservation-focused reminders, these can affect employee behavior in all departments on a day-to-day basis.
Be sure to always recognize community-minded contributions, efforts and ideas from employees on screens. This appeals to almost every employee type, but especially these folks.
These employees focus primarily on the money they make and the benefits they receive. The specifics of the organization are not really important to them so much as what they personally get out of being a part of it.
This can sometimes be frowned upon, but it often means that these folks just prioritize other things in life over a job, or that they haven’t been inspired yet in their workplace. Just because they care about their own bottom line doesn’t mean that they won’t be loyal to your organization.
Using digital signs to promote flextime, 401(k) schemes and other messages that tell them exactly what they receive in exchange for their efforts are what these types will probably respond to the most. Like with the old-fashioned employee types, job security is important to them, as are opportunities for advancement.
If you have opportunities for overtime, spiffs, or other prizes, be sure to put them up on screens. Anyone looking to increase their own take-home from working for you will perk up and participate. Gamification is a great way to engage Bottom-Line employees.
And then there’s the type that Inc. Magazine rather uncharitably calls the Malcontented. These are people who just don’t care about work at all. They do it because they have to.
They need the paycheck, but will jump ship at the first chance to get a better salary, a shorter commute, or some other perceived convenience or benefit.
You might say that this type simply hasn’t been engaged yet. If you consider a 40-hour work week, plus an average 4 ½ hours per week of commute time, that means people in the US spend almost 40% of their waking time in work-related activities.
No one can do something that often and not have it affect them on a deeper level. These employees are really just looking for a reason to care, to transition into one of the other employee types.
Use your digital signage to inspire your Malcontents. They may claim that they don’t really care, and maybe they don’t care about the products you offer, but they certainly care about something – their coworkers, the break room, your website, something.
Even if it’s just cat videos. Maybe you’ll never turn this kind of a person into a cheerleader, but you can at least engage them in some way, at some level.
The best way is to ask them what interests them. Short polls, comment forms on your intranet, plenty of communication with managers – these are ways to find out what lies beneath the surface of indifference.
Incorporate their ideas and feedback immediately. If you have some of these folks who love the MCU, use superhero themes in your graphics. If they hang out at a local café for lunch, offer discounts on your digital signs. Tapping into their interests is what will encourage them to start participating.
As we’ve written about many times before, this is an employee type of a whole different color. For Millennials, profit can’t be the main concern of an organization.
They are very aware that there’s a wider world out there, and they need to know their own place in it, as well as the place of the company they devote their time to. And work-life balance is key for millennials, so they need flexibility.
Using all the tricks in your digital signage playbook, including all the ideas above, is how you engage them. Be sure to tie in social media on your digital signs, and post reviews, feedback, kudos, recognition, and profiles.
These folks have grown up with social media and crowdsourcing, so take inspiration from there and consider crowdsourcing some content to let them have their own say in what goes on screens.
One Size Does Not Fit All
Think about how you can use your digital signage to the best effect for each of these employee types. Which one would respond best to employee kudos and spotlights? Which one would want to know about training and certification opportunities? Who will be interested in a local marathon?
Chances are you probably use some sort of categorization system when hiring new employees, whether it’s Myers-Briggs, the Jung Typology Test, the Higher Success Employment Testing System, or something else you can reference.
And it’s certainly true that you’ll have a mixture of personality types in your organization. So how is that supposed to inform your digital signage strategy?
The real takeaway here is that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to communications. Though we may use term such as “the company” and “employees” or “the audience”, these are not cohesive, monolithic things. It’s a group of people.
Digital signage is just a medium for people to communicate with other people. If you want to engage people, you have to know what they care about, what motivates and inspires them, what will attract them. It’s not practical to use digital signage to communicate one-on-one with employees – it’s a mass communications medium.
However, categories like these at least give you some sort of framework to start crafting content that can engage your employees. Try the categories listed here, or use your Myers-Briggs categories, or find some others that seem to be applicable in your environment. Use these ideas as a focusing tool for your communications efforts.
Make some best guesses and experiment. All too often, digital signage content creators are looking for some sort of silver bullet that’s going to guarantee success 100% of the time. There’s no such thing.
Try things out, evaluate how effective your messages are, tweak the messages according to the feedback you get, and do it all again. A dynamic system like digital signage requires a dynamic content strategy.