That’s a true statement. Really.
My answer? Internal communications is more than leadership sending messages to employees or ensuring two-way communications. Done the right way, internal communications can have the following results:
- Happy, engaged employees
- Low turnover rates
- Good safety records
- Strong HR and training
- Ability to manage and respond to crises
- Adaptability to change
While many companies have grown in their understanding of internal communications and how to engage, there are those who neglect it, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t “get it”. (You know, why change the top-down model of memos to emails?) Maybe they don’t have the resources. Maybe they don’t believe they have time to focus on such a role as full-time.
No matter the size of your organization, if engaging employees isn’t one of your priorities, you’re missing out on opportunities to grow your business and your brand. Consider:
- Buy-in: If the business and corporate strategies are clearly communicated, along with Q/A, key messages, dialogue, insurance that every employee receives the same messages, the odds are in your favor that the strategies will be successful
- Employee engagement: If employees buy-in, believe they are supported and are engaged, they are more likely to produce ideas that may better the organization. If they don’t feel connected or valued, they won’t speak up and an amazing idea to benefit the company’s culture and/or the bottom line will be missed.
- Dialogue: Also known as two-way communication, it’s very important that leaders listen and respond to employees. Ensuring that everyone is on the same page – aligned – with the company’s goals helps ensure success for everyone
- Use more than one vehicle: The world as a whole is connected at all times. Being dependent on one vehicle, such as email, results in messages being missed or ignored. (You can’t mark everything “high importance” and expect readership.) Factoring in videos, webinars, town halls, and yes, print, is key to ensuring all employees, wherever they are located, receive the same message. With several generations in the workplace at one time, remember that each generation has a different communication preference – one size does not fit all.
- Sometimes it’s smarter to start small: Beginning a robust internal communications program doesn’t mean implementing everything at once. A simple start can work wonders.
For example, I once was asked to take over an internal newsletter that many viewed as an afterthought. From an aesthetic standpoint, it was boring. BORING. Right there you lose people if they bother to open it. In addition, it was sent out via email as a PDF attachment. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, but if you’re traveling or work on a rig, it’s not exactly ideal to read on the phone. And most importantly, the writing needed to be much stronger, and there were no visuals of any kind.
What did I do about it?
I took the time to design a new look. I used multiple colors. I added visuals – pictures, charts, etc. I wrote stories about people, projects, products, and interviewed the subject matter experts to pull intriguing information and provide quotes. Without a large budget, I went to SurveyMonkey and created an ONLINE newsletter with hotlinks that was responsive, or mobile-friendly. This ensured that anyone could easily view it. However, to ensure all audiences received and responded to the information, I not only sent the electronic newsletter, I attached the PDF version to the email. I knew that some preferred to print out the newsletter.
The response was fantastic! In fact, when the Director of Sales and Marketing presented it at a managers’ meeting, it was greeted with loud applause. I received many congratulatory emails.
Taking such a simple step forward set the groundwork for expanding internal communications. Employees began to become more engaged, responding, talking to each other, making suggestions, and feeling more comfortable about accessing leadership. This didn’t happen overnight, of course, but as the program grew over the first year, it was easy to see.
Now it’s your turn. Why do you think internal communications is important?
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