For much of the last century, the concept of internal communications has guided the way companies inform their workforce. Some trace the history of internal communications back to the late 1800s, when the industrial revolution created large companies with new communication needs. And as early as the 1940s, universities were publishing textbooks like Alex Heron’s Sharing Information with Employees. Even up until the 21st century, the focus has been on sharing information within the company. Hence the word “internal.” As a long term business strategy, having good internal communication was considered key.
Adapting communication in a changing world.
But in the digital era, things have changed. With the internet and social media now a daily part of engaged employee life, professional information has become a two-way street. And it’s happened quickly. According to an article published by Gartner, “The entire social media landscape and operating environment have shifted to something unrecognizable, even when looking back a mere five years.” A recent Forbes article takes it even one step further. It claims, “There’s no doubt that social media has changed human behavior over the past decade.” The article goes on to report that “81% of Americans have a social media profile, and two hours are spent on social media every day by the average person.” The new direction is clear. The times are changing. And businesses need to keep up.
But what about external communications?
Obviously, this means that the majority of employees at any company are going to be part of an online community. And a larger online world that extends well beyond their professional peers. Unfortunately, when it comes to communications within a company, this second, external sphere of influence usually goes untapped. Industry news, competitive reports, potential customers, third-party content—it’s all out there. But companies are only beginning to make that connection. Many employers still don’t understand that they can join together their company’s world of internal communications with the external online ecosystem in which most employees get and share information. Rather than using these external resources, companies often try to compete with them. And they usually fail.
It’s time for something more expansive. And inclusive.
Given all these changes in the last decade, perhaps it’s time to rethink the nature of business communications. Ultimately, everyone wants to have informed, engaged, and influential employees. However, companies seldom present a unified solution. Which is why we suggest a broader, all-encompassing concept of communication. The fact is, the old top-down method of sending out emails and paper newsletters isn’t enough anymore. In a connected, digital age when information flows in every direction, companies have to capitalize on the power of online resources. It’s already established that messages shared by employees receive 8 times more engagement and go 561% further than content shared by brand channels. Productivity improves 20-25% in organizations with connected employees.
Why not harness this power, instead of ignoring it or competing against it? Why not use it as a communications tool?
Enter a new term: Employee Communications.
It’s time to move past internal communications and replace it with something new: Employee Communications. This is a much more expansive concept that moves beyond the traditional boundaries of the company walls. At its essence, employee communications is simply the variety of ways in which companies can communicate with their employees, and vice-versa. It encompasses both internal and external communications. It incorporates new methods of achieving engagement, understanding, and input. Its strength, however, is that it allows for employees to become informed, engaged, and influential within their online ecosystem. They read, digest, and interact with information supplied by the various corporate channels (internet feeds, social media, etc.).
They then spread that awareness as thought leaders and brand advocates in their field. They’re more aware of what’s going on within their company, but also in the larger industry and marketplace as a whole.
Employees are the bedrock of every good communications strategy.
Within this broader concept of business communications, employees become the actual foundation of the communications strategy. The reasons for this are simple. It’s because they are more connected to this “external” world than anyone else. They know the clients, the prospects, the partners, and the competitors from their own professional experience. And if the company allows them—through user generated content, for example—to share their relevant knowledge with the rest of the company, the company will get two tangible benefits.
— People will be well informed, probably even better than with a full centralized content creation/curation process. This, because it’s impossible to know everything about the external ecosystem from only a centralized unit.
— They will also be more engaged. They will see that their voice is important and that they are part of the communications of the company.
The final key to strong employee communications? A centralized hub.
In order to maintain multiple streams of company communication, a centralized hub can prove very beneficial. If it can help curate and aggregate content, even better. Administration capabilities are important too, for determining which information is relevant to whom and where. And the ability to organize it into relevant channels is paramount. But when this is achieved, a new communication structure emerges. One in which third-party content and industry news are just as relevant as HR announcements and paycheck distribution. One in which the success of a new campaign can be viewed both from within the company, and from without via news sources and industry thought leaders. Indeed, one in which the employees themselves are sharing company news and developments on their own social networks. The lines between the two spheres of information are blurred, and then removed altogether. Communication in both directions becomes streamlined.
In short, with strong employee communications, company news and content become as much a part of their daily lives as checking Facebook or Twitter. In fact, they’ll probably even share the most recent company developments on Facebook and Twitter, as internal and external information streams begin to merge.
Sociabble as a total employee communications solution.
When it comes to creating a strong employee communications initiative, Sociabble can help. Sociabble is more than simply an app or a platform. It’s a comprehensive employee communications tool. It’s designed to consolidate all of a company’s relevant information streams into a single curated, comprehensive hub that’s instantly accessible. It’s the most important part of any employee communications initiative.
Here’s how Sociabble can:
Offer a diverse content mix
Sociabble provides a platform that can aggregate company feeds, create content directly on the platform (admin and UGC), even from mobile. And strong integrations with content curation tools like Scoop.it and Feedly make collecting third-party content easy. They can do the work for you.
Drive employee engagement & gamification
Building quizzes and polls is simple with Sociabble. With its specially designed, advanced gamification framework, employees can win points and badges for participation. Administrators can even personalize challenges to hype up interest in upcoming events and campaigns, and encourage the creation of user generated content.
Promote mobile capability & attract disconnected employees
Sociabble’s native apps place a premium on a seamless user experiences to make the interactions more engaging. They even offer push notifications to keep employees connected when they’re on the go. And since users don’t need a professional email address, this will bring disconnected workers back into the fold.
Increase top-level involvement
It’s not always easy to get the attention of top management. Thanks to Sociabble’s consulting team and pre-prepared, ready-to-use materials, help is available each step of the way, offering guidance for the project.
Optimize existing tools
There is no single solution to replace everything. That’s why Sociabble integrates with existing ecosystems and tools, and can capitalize on previous communications investments. Sociabble is a Microsoft 365 certified partner, and also includes Office 365 single sign-on, intranet widgets, and complete integration with Yammer, Workplace by Facebook, Microsoft Teams, and Slack.
If you’d like to learn more about how Sociabble can help update and transition your company from internal communications to full employee communications, click here.