How to Write Content That Your Employees Will Actually Read

Do employees read the Policy Manual they’re given when being on-boarded with a company? Do technical people read the books and magazines you see on their desks and bookshelves? Probably not, but they are reading the “10 BEST AFFORDABLE ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORTS CARIBBEAN” and the “WHAT THESE 70’S STARS LOOK LIKE NOW IS INCREDIBLE” postings they see online (a.k.a. ‘listicles’).

What people say they read, compared to what they actually read, is different. You can see this by looking at changes in the book industry over recent years. A WSJ review of “The Content Trap” noted that in the past many books bought were not books necessarily read. Instead, they were displayed on coffee tables or home desks to show a person’s interests. In the e-book world, those don’t sell. An example of what does sell are romance novels, a type of content that people like to read but don’t necessarily want to advertise to the outside world. Clearly, the rules are changing.

This change in readers’ behavior affects the workplace, too. It means that to communicate effectively, we need to produce content that is genuinely interesting and easily consumable. Here are some tips:

Keep it short. Long posts turn off readers. It’s better to have people read something short instead of ignoring it completely.
Include graphics. Do you notice how those online listicles always have an interesting photo or GIF in the teaser? There’s a reason for that.
Be unique. The post should stand out, even if the subject is routine (which most are). For example, if you’re planning to write about safe lifting next week, use a photo of employees demonstrating proper techniques – wearing Halloween costumes.
Be specific. Instead of covering an entire topic, pick one or two points and drill in on those. Then do points three and four next week, etc.
Be personal. People love to read about themselves and fellow employees. So involve them by getting their insights, photos or having them write the piece.

The art of communicating this way is to be in learning mode yourself. As you surf the internet, be aware and keep track of what attracts you. Then use those techniques to entice your employees to pay attention to the important issues in the workplace.

Frank Kenna III
October 26, 2016

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