Expert talks: an interview with Erwin van der Vlist

June 22, 2018 - 7 minute read

As the co-founder and managing director of an international company, Erwin van der Vlist knows better than most how important it is to have outstanding internal communication, and the impact that it has on employee engagement

If communication is smooth and efficient, colleagues naturally feel more involved within the organisation - and it's becoming increasingly clear just how valuable this employee commitment can be to a thriving workplace. We spoke to Erwin about why this is so valuable, along with all manner of things internal communications.

Interview-Erwin-1This interview will be available in video format soon - make sure you check out our blog!

Why is employee engagement such a hot topic?

"We have more and more tools in our lives that make it easier to be in contact with other people, and business-like tools are increasingly being used, such as Enterprise Social Media , which makes communication is quicker and easier, so that people are more connected with each other and with the organisation. More and more organisations have become aware of the value of employee-involved tools such as Facebook, Slack, and we, with Speakap, really invest in this market, to increase employee engagement. More involvement among employees has a positive influence on the customer experience, and leads to better business results, which is why it's a logical consequence that involvement is now trending. "

Why should companies care if their employees are involved or not?

"The retail sector is changing, with more and more purchases being made via e-commerce, which is simple, but the human touch is lacking. Offline retail can distinguish itself in this respect, which has become more and more about the experience, the customer experience. "

employee engagement retail report

We have a blog series about great customer experiences. The underlying message is that it's clear when you've been served by an involved employee... or not!

"Exactly. If I make a purchase and someone gives me a lot of help, it's valuable to the business, because as a customer I leave the store happy and with a good feeling when an employee offers good service. I remember that experience, which means that I will come back again and buy something again."

And the presence of social media has made this become extra important, of course. In cases of bad service, we no longer complain to the company itself; we complain on Twitter, open and exposed. But good experiences are also shared.

"True. Although this happens less than sharing complaints via social media, you should not underestimate the power of this. If there is a small percentage of your satisfied customers sharing the good experience with your brand through social media, that's huge. These satisfied customers, the so-called brand ambassadors, have a certain reach within their network and that has a positive impact on overall brand awareness. "

How important is employee involvement in organisations?

"Fortunately, more and more organisations are becoming aware of the importance and value of employee engagement, but for many there is still a lot to be gained. What we see a lot is that organisations with highly engaged employees invest a lot in tools for employee involvement. "

About ten years ago Erwin worked in a supermarket, together with a friend, Patrick van der Mijl. They were tired by the manner of communication that went through mailboxes, the bulletin board and call lists from head office; they found it to be inefficient and cumbersome. That is where the idea arose to develop a social communication platform, where all communication could be bundled and delivered straight to the employee. 

What kind of tools?

"Speakap, for example: we offer a social communication platform, a tool, which is redundant for a five-man company, because you can all simply contact and reach each other, but the more people the organization counts, the harder it gets. A social communication platform ensures that everyone in the organization can easily reach each other, which does not mean that it completely replaces face-to-face contact, and is a complementary and quick, easy way to distribute messages."

"Fortunately, more and more organisations are becoming aware of the importance and value of employee engagement, but for many there is still a lot to be gained."
- Erwin van der Vlist

Which companies do you consider to be a good example of this?

"A company like Rituals, for example, uses Speakap as a social communication platform, which they use to connect all affiliates and employees worldwide. The CEO is also very involved with Rituals employees, and with an international brand such as Rituals this might seem impossible. But he posts a lot on the platform, they are really connected!He posts selfies and videos, for example around the opening of a new store somewhere in the world, reaching and communicating with up to 7,000 people worldwide."

Watch our case study: How does Rituals connect and reach all its employees worldwide?

Do you have any tips for those who work in internal communication and those who want to lift communication to a higher level?

"Yes, what is very important is that the management is behind the choice of communication and communication tools. Management must be willing to invest in this, for example if you have to convince the Operations, HR or CEO departments without management fully backing the chosen tool is difficult, not impossible, but more difficult. For Speakap, we can always help by providing explanations and additional information about the usefulness and benefits of a social communication platform, which can contribute to speeding up the process. "

"In addition, the internal communication and what is shared in the company should not only be the responsibility of the communication department, and every other department, such as HR or IT, should also be able to communicate directly with the front-line staff in the organisation. An outdated way of communicating to let the communications department collect all important announcements and then send out a newsletter once every two weeks, making it faster and more fun in 2018. Make messages more interesting by adding images or videos. ready, so short messages that employees can quickly take in. "

With a Facebook or WhatsApp message, you do not wait until the end of the week or the month before you send something ...

"Exactly! And when sending e-mails you always have to type a salutation, while Enterprise Social Media is a faster and more natural way of communicating, just like personal social media."

Thank you Erwin!

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Jozy Gallmann

Written by Jozy Gallmann