Here we look at the key ingredients that go into an internal communications strategy that really works. And offer some proven examples to create or revitalize your own.
Workplace communications technology has brought a new sophistication to the planning and deployment of employee communication strategies in recent years, supercharging reach and value to organizations.
We have a workforce that’s changed dramatically since the pandemic, with a big rise in hybrid and remote workers. Employee communications strategies need to be flexible enough to reach those working in different places, spaces, and ways. They need to be engaging enough to make everyone feel a valued part of your brand.
Whether your internal communication goals are to help your business innovate, retain talent, enrich and underpin a positive company culture, support higher levels of diversity and inclusivity, and/or promote safety at work – your workplace experience platform will play a huge role in helping you meet those goals.
How technology helps (and hinders!) effective employee communications
Employee communications technologies and apps have become so prevalent and simple to use that it’s often easy to forget your strategic intentions when managing internal communications. But are your messages simply adding to the avalanche of emails and information an employee has to wade through every morning? Has your carefully worded message been received and understood? More importantly, is it one that this specific employee needs to receive, today? Now?
Recent research from Gartner found that, while there’s been a huge (and welcome) boost in apps that meet the needs of remote and hybrid workers, internal communications has been left lacking.
Gartner concludes that internal comms leaders “need greater insight on the effectiveness of communications that can demonstrate and deliver value to business leaders and employees”. While technologies can be seen to have all the answers, poor use of them can negatively impact strategies around encouraging employee engagement. They cite two main issues:
- ‘Digital Friction’ – when technology or applications take up unnecessary time and effort to use
- ‘Reciprocity Debt’ – which is the burden of employees feeling “compelled to keep up with more communication channels, responding to messages and social commitments to colleagues, and superiors”.
It’s clear that we need to get back to basics when it comes to developing a strategy. And – most importantly, to put ‘user experience’ front and center.
Do you know how your employees really feel?
Planning your employee communication strategy
Any internal communication strategy will fail if you don’t have the buy-in of your workforce. Making time for research and planning is essential, and you need to treat your workforce like customers. Listening to their needs and ideas is too often overlooked. But they’re your innovation engine – your face to clients and customers and the ones who know your brand from the ground up. With an effective strategy that talks to their needs, they’ll not only be happier at work, they’ll also feel more empowered and included in the company mission.
The technologies behind workplace communications platforms should enable you to listen in many ways – to hear fresh ideas from all parts of your organization. If they don’t, you need to look again at your solution.
Ask yourself: Do you know how employees receive your communications? How do they feel about them? Are they targeted at the right people? At the right time? It could be the case that a simple review of the segmentation of your workforce would reap huge rewards in increasing engagement.
Your internal communication goals could include:
- Increasing the ability of teams to innovate
- Retaining talent
- Increasing collaboration between in-office, hybrid, and remote workers
- Promoting uptake of company benefits – making it easier to find and understand them
- Opening up feedback channels
- Fostering a positive company culture
- Increasing diversity and inclusivity
- Promoting safety at work
Five examples of strategies you could include in your employee communications plan
1. Make it personal
It’s much easier today to keep teams informed and to target specific segments, locales or communities that not so long ago would have been subjected to blanket, mostly irrelevant communications from ‘the top’.
Segmenting your workforce gives you the opportunity to create more focused and targeted communications. Take time to consider the needs of each cohort when drawing up your plan. What information will those returning from parental leave need and appreciate? How will frontline workers best be served? Revisit your segments regularly – are they still fit for purpose? Do they help your remote workers as well as those in the office? Your new joiners as well as long-serving staff?
Strategies around targeting your communications should also consider communities. Centralized messaging is important for company-wide comms and critical alerts and information. But would it feel more appropriate to have local or segmented communications addressed by relevant departments, business leaders, or other influential employees? And if part of your strategy is to devolve certain elements of your comms plan, consider what training and technology those teams or employees will need in order for them to be effective.
2. Encourage two-way engagement
If you’ve nailed the listening phase in setting up your strategy, then two-way engagement should be a natural follow-on. And with the right technology, there’ll be no digital friction but simple, seamless ways to engage that don’t disrupt the flow of work.
Today’s employees expect to have a say and using tools that work in the same way as consumer platforms, like social media, embedded into your intranet, employee app, or other digital interfaces, it’s easy for teams to like, share and comment on ideas and schemes. Engagement initiatives all help to foster an inclusive and positive company culture.
3. Use storytelling to inspire
Let’s face it, we’ve all been on the receiving end of some supremely boring company communications – and they could be the ones you need people to pay the most attention to. Even the driest of topics can be made more interesting and engaging if you use storytelling techniques, video, and imagery to bring them to life. One example is safety information conveyed via video with real-life examples of what could go wrong if not heeded. These kinds of communications stick in the memory far longer than a list of dos and don’ts.
4. Champion your employees
Creating an inspiring and inclusive culture at work all comes down to looking after and championing your people. And your strategy should be at the heart of that. You’ll reap huge rewards in talent retention, happiness at work and productivity.
A current concern among employers is the growing divide between in-office and remote or hybrid workers. Examples of tactics to deploy are: better one-to-one communication with those working away from the office, alongside tech that helps to bring those people together – think collaborative online spaces to work, virtual socials, places for communities of interest to generate ideas and support each other, even translation tools to cut through language barriers.
And of course, sharing praise for a job well done should be made as simple as possible. The Appspace intranet, for example, makes it easy to like and comment on others’ activities with quick and informal feedback. Here are some powerful internal communication tips to try with your team.
5. Measurement and analytics
When you’re looking for an employee communications platform, the ability to measure and analyze the effectiveness of your communications should be a top priority. Consider: how do your efforts improve wellbeing, productivity, retention, collaboration, knowledge sharing, safety at work …?
The right technology will make it easy to collect, collate, and analyze employee feedback and engagement. For example, with Appspace, you can track which content, devices, and apps are most (or least) used, who is actively engaging with teams, and how successful that engagement is.
Good luck with developing your strategy!
If you have any questions, we’d be happy to chat about how Appspace can help deliver on your goals. Let’s talk.
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