Reach Non-Wired Employees

Dorian Cundick
Dorian Cundick

One gift of the global technology stampede is that we now have more ways to connect internally than we sometimes know how to use. Still, our non-wired employees are as hard to reach as ever. 

What to do? CEB researchers recently took a look at some of the biggest challenges in reaching non-wired employees, and identified effective innovations that aren’t dependent on an employee sifting through emails at a desk all day.

Challenge 1: Disconnection

Some of the most progressive companies find ways to tap into employees’ existing networks—online, on the job, outside of work—wherever and however employees are already finding and sharing information.

Here are a few ideas we found that seem to be working pretty well:

  • Ternium uses Facebook to drive employee participation in its community-relations events.  Using this platform sets the company up to comment on and share positive company-related messages across its own vast personal networks.  
  • How many of your employees lovingly review their health care options during open enrollment periods?  It’s probably not a vast and enthusiastic majority.  The Eastman Chemical Co. has embraced this reality with a brilliant old- school play. It actually mails a newsletter about benefits directly to employees at home—greatly increasing the likelihood that a relevant spouse might see the information and maybe helps move enrollment along.   
  • In a bit of a twist, how about carving out a connection opportunity for employees which helps them share with each other their expertise through things they do every day? TNT Truck & Equipment actually hosts an annual international competition for its truck drivers. It competes in teams to see whose driving strategies and techniques produce the more effective speed plus fuel efficiency.  

Challenge 2: Disengagement

Non-wired employees often perform repetitive or monotonous tasks.  And they’re probably not the highest-earning employees at your company. As such, keeping them engaged with the task at hand, key initiatives, or the company in general can be tough. The trick is to make content as interactive as possible. For example:

  • Reynolds American turns its code of conduct into a crossword puzzle. Filling in for ‘13 across’ is much more likely to stick than seeing it somewhere in the middle of a paragraph on page 23 of a report that nobody will read.
  • Heinz turns its compliance training into a game show. Its choice: “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” Any activity that encourages humor, interaction and creatively putting concepts into a memorable context is going to leave a more lasting impression than even the most gripping blurb on your intranet.   

Challenge 3: Distraction

As much as any other group of employees, non-wired employees are often preoccupied with volume of activity—how many widgets they’ve made that day, how many customers they’ve served or how many miles they’ve driven. 

This leaves them with very little time for corporate initiatives that don’t help them get more out the door.  Often, communications teams attempt to simplify content and hope it passes employees’ bar for relevance. 

Instead, top companies understand that even the busiest employees have certain teachable moments when they’re more open to messages than others. For instance:

  • To change behaviors in the moment, we need employees to communicate among themselves. To this end, Chevron has issued Stop Work Authority cards to all its employees, emphasizing their right and obligation to stop and correct each-others work in the very moment they spot something of concern.   
  • Masco and Dr Pepper make their messages portable.  These two companies have created QR codes that employees can scan with their phones.  This takes them through to a microsite, which the employee can then access at their leisure.   

Reaching the non-wired among us doesn’t have to be a big investment in time or money.  Figure out how your people already communicate and tap into those channels. 

 Tinker with your content so it’s more engaging and shareable.  See what you can do to make it easy for employees to consume messages on their own time and in their own way.  PRN


Dorian Cundick is executive advisor at CEB. She can be reached at