Why Digital Signage is NOT the Answer to Employee Engagement

Digital signage is quickly becoming a workplace engagement staple and a promising approach to modernizing the office environment. At least, that’s what you’ll hear online.

Through simply doing a search for digital signage and workplace engagement, you’ll see that there are countless articles describing digital signage as a cure-all solution for employee attention.

While readers might be surprised to hear this from a digital signage vendor, most of these conclusions are just flat-out wrong. There are plenty of great ways to apply digital signage in the workplace—but digital signage is not the answer to workplace engagement.

Defining Workplace Engagement

Now, there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve employee engagement. Gallup polls of U.S. workers show that only around one-third of employees are engaged in their jobs. Clearly employers need all the help they can get, but before we talk strategy, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves what “engagement” really means.

As described in the above Gallup poll, “engagement” refers to employees’ agreement with key workplace elements, having the opportunity to do their best work each day, and believing that their opinions count. In Gallup’s view, these are the day-to-day elements most predictive of organizational performance.

Forbes describes engagement as “The emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals,” while others define it as “The extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs and put discretionary effort into their work.”

Clearly, there’s no one-size-fits-all definition. But if we extrapolate, we can find a few consistent elements that make up a recipe for engagement:

  • Understanding and supporting the company’s goals
  • Believing their individual contributions matter
  • Emotional commitment / passion for the job

Keep these elements in mind, as they’ll be important parts of the company’s digital signage content strategy moving forward.

The Role of Digital Signage In Employee Engagement

Now we know what workplace engagement looks like—but what role can digital signage play?

Well, we know that digital signage already excels in one type of engagement: Visual attention. Research shows that digital signage placed in public settings can reach 27 percent more viewers than online marketing strategies, and of those, 50 percent could recall the exact message after viewing, even a month later.

This is one of digital signage’s key advantages over static workplace messaging: Reinforcement. As a rule, we tend to remember messages we see on digital screens far more readily than we do on static signs. This applies to digital signage in marketing settings, and it also applies to digital signage in the workplace. In essence, digital signage provides employers with a flexible form of employee communication that is easy to use, easy to adapt, and more impactful than nearly any other medium.

With these benefits in mind, it might seem like a breeze to engage employees through digital signage—which is the exact trap that companies fall into when integrating their signage strategies.

Digital signage isn’t the answer, it’s a tool. Like any tool, you need to know how to use it effectively.

Improving Engagement Through Digital Signage

When using digital signage, the conversation should start with a discussion of the visual experience. How can digital signage and workplace engagement work together to produce results?

This brings us back to our three “employee engagement” points listed above. If managers want to improve workplace engagement through digital signage, they’ll need to include specific messaging that speaks to core engagement elements detailed above.

Push Company Values

Employees need to understand a company’s mission and goals before they can become fully engaged in their work. While much of this will be learned on the job, this is the perfect opportunity to reinforce it through digital signage and employee engagement content layouts.

Think about the company’s key value propositions from an employee perspective, and share these details in the layout. Don’t focus on performance or metrics, the goal here is to remind employees why they chose to work at the company in the first place. Does the company donate part of its profits to charity? Does it support sustainability and eco-friendliness in the local community? Are people’s lives being improved in any way?

Keep this information front and center in each content layout to reinforce the tangible benefits of the work they do every day. This helps them better understand the company’s goals, but it also helps them connect emotionally with their roles—two key aspects of engagement.

workplace engagement

Offer Recognition

Employees won’t be engaged for long if they feel underappreciated. Keep this in mind and be sure to include some employee recognition templates in each content layout. This can be something as simple as an employee of the month award, or it can be more complicated, such as calling attention to specific projects that were recently completed.

But managers can’t stop there. This is a perfect example of a situation where digital signage can only go so far.

In order to truly recognize an employee’s contributions, the manager needs to get hands-on and speak with the employee directly. Generally this will mean offering praise and feedback specific to the project shortly after it is completed. Many companies believe such conversations can wait for an employee’s annual/semi-annual performance review, but this is a mistake. True recognition is immediate and specific. While digital signage content can support this process, it must be complemented with in-person management.

Suggest Opportunities for Professional Development

Look at workplace digital signage and employee engagement from the employee’s perspective. Why should they bother paying attention to the screen if the content is nothing but company policies and boring OSHA details? This is another area where companies tend to stumble with their digital signage investments. Managers can’t reach employees unless the employees actually have some incentive to pay attention.

To grab their attention, try including some information that’ll be useful to them. A good example would be professional development opportunities, details about upcoming workshops, classes, or courses that can supplement the employee’s knowledge. Depending on the industry, many team members will be interested in furthering their professional skills and will also appreciate hearing about new opportunities in the area.

Digital Signage and Workplace Engagement

Digital signage can certainly improve workplace engagement, but it’s only one tool in a business owner’s overall toolkit. In other words, it’s a means to an end, not the end itself. Managers should keep this in mind as they explore their digital signage options, and realize that the hardware investment itself is only the first step—it’s the application of the right content at the right time that truly powers digital signage.

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