The Purpose of Communication
Internal communications (IC) is about promoting effective communications among people within a company. It involves producing and delivering messages and campaigns on behalf of leadership, as well as facilitating a dialogue with employees. This can mean anything from announcing a new policy or informing people of an upcoming event, to conducting a company-wide engagement or culture audit. IC is usually the responsibility of HR, or PR departments, but can be done by any and all departments across the company.
Digital Communication includes the communications that take place via:
- Messaging platforms
- Online productivity tools
- Company intranets
- Videoconferencing software
- Digital whiteboard tools
- Social media
The important considerations for an internal communication strategy
What is the purpose of the communication
What is to be communicated
Who owns the communication process
What are the barriers
What tools should be used
When to evaluate and adjust
Keep Employees Informed
Your employees want to be in the know, nobody likes being a mushroom. Keeping your people informed of upcoming events, policy changes, engagement initiatives, headcount changes, and updates on the overall health of the business helps create a sense of transparency and openness that people respect. Bigger picture news can be shared by the CEO, while projects being worked on may be shared by Department Influencers. Good internal communications is all about getting the word out to everyone and have them invested in the company purpose.
Build the Company Culture
Each announcement, message, and news update plays a role in how your employees interpret the cultural landscape of your company. This encompasses what it stands for, who it values, and why its purpose matters. Your company culture is the sum of its parts, and good internal communications takes this into account.
Broaden and Humanize the View
Messaging, news, and announcements can be sourced from beyond HR or Marketing. Department Influencers can provide updates on events, social meets, and projects that matter at your company. Use your internal communications to give different people a voice.
There are different ways to promote engagement, which is usually missed when sending lengthy emails. Pulse surveys offer a quick way to capture perceptions on a process, initiative, event, or even determine a preferred choice on any of these before a final decision is made to introduce them. How employees feel about the company, their jobs, and career support should be more than just an annual activity. Once survey information is gathered and evaluated, it’s vital to provide feedback on any resulting actions or change. Employees that feel their voice matters are more likely to go above and beyond when needed. This is a value that can’t be underestimated.
Promote the “Hidden Gems”
You may have employees who crave more involvement in their workplace, and want to play a more direct role in the development of its culture. Internal communications can promote learning and speaking events, leadership training programs, share customer feedback and media coverage, and provide opportunities for individuals to get more involved. By empowering Department or Team Influencers to promote their events and programs, or share their news, you offer another fulfilling dimension to their work.
Calm during the “Stormy Waters”
Trading downturns, merges and acquisitions, and market shifts sometimes force a company to restructure. This is when people need internal communications most. Announcements of impending structural changes need to be treated with extra care because it can impact employee morale. The best approach is to address the event, who was affected, how they were taken care of, and what this means for the entire company. It requires a delicate tone and complete transparency, especially in the case of layoffs. Being transparent and delicate when delivering bad news creates an atmosphere of openness and caring that can help sustain your company through tough times.
Health and Safety Alerts
Workforce safety is a prerequisite for your company, which means fast, responsive communication is necessary to direct employee safeguards. Alerts warn people about serious workplace health and safety risks. They should outline what the hazard is, where it exists, how it is identified, and the immediate employee action required to avoid any unwanted outcomes.
Goals and Recognition
Ops Leaders can emphasize key project or product goals for specific work periods. Regular communication on target milestones and achievements keeps everyone in sync. It also provides the perfect opportunity to recognize an individual or team effort that has exceeded expectations. Recognition for a job well done is motivational for everyone to keep delivering good work.
Barriers to success
Communication should be regular and easy to consume. There’s no point starting a process that’s not going to be maintained. If a company believes in connecting with its workforce, it’s a long term commitment. The more everyone becomes accustomed to getting insider communications delivered in a certain way, the better the buy-in for all employees to remain connected. As with social media, if the content platform ceases to provide value, it will lose traction.
For employees on the move, mobile apps are the most convenient, so make sure the solution you choose also supports mobile with a fast, intuitive interface. If the solution is meant for employees of all levels (viz. blue collar and white collar workers), then simplicity of access, operation, and ability to notify of new content is extremely valuable. A no learn, low learn solution means less support for your company. If your chosen platform is online (viz. Software as a Service) then understand the “cost of ownership“.
When to evaluate and adjust
The answer is: as often as possible. Ultimately, the tool you pick should provide analytics on the reach and impact of your digital communications. This means that your communication stakeholders can focus on what is most valued, even if that’s a moving target. Scheduling communications means that you have a pipeline of intention, which if automated, makes your life easier. Find a way to evaluate the important metrics and adjust your strategy accordingly.
In summary, the right internal communication strategy can help you achieve big wins for your company.