The bedrock of business is effective communication. Of course this means external communication—with clients and consumers, even the media—but the internal component is crucial as well. Businesses with strong internal communications in place are 4 times as likely to have high levels of engagement, and productivity can increase by as much as 20-25%. And with the deluge of information that employees are bombarded with today thanks to the internet and social media, it’s more important than ever that internal communications be optimized, so that the necessary news isn’t lost in the digital clamor. But how do you optimize your employee communications?
There may be no one single formula. Every company is unique, after all. But there are some best practices and tips that can help streamline your internal communications and make them more effective, keeping employees informed and engaged.
1. Consider all Stakeholders
This is true from the earliest planning stages, right on through to implementation. Many different people work at a company, filling many different roles. An effective communications strategy needs to involve all of them. This can mean personalizing content with designated social media channels, offering extensive mobile support for employees without professional email addresses or regular desk time, and amplifying the voices of entry-level and temporary employees to create an environment of inclusion. A Towers Watson study states that companies with highly effective communication practices and tools bring 47% higher total returns to shareholders compared to organizations with overall bad communication. There should be no such thing as a “disconnected” worker at a company with an effective internal communications strategy in place. Everyone should be in on the action.
2. Empower Managers
It’s necessary to include all levels in formulating a communications plan. But ensuring that managers and other top-level staff are leaders in internal communications is crucial. Leaders need to lead by example. This includes encouraging managers to actively provide necessary information, but it also means giving them the autonomy and budget to inform and engage their own employees as they see fit. This includes encouraging managers to actively provide necessary information, but it also means giving them the autonomy and budget to inform and engage their own employees as they see fit. After all, who knows better what will keep employees engaged and absorbed than those who work closely with them on a daily basis?
3. Celebrate Internal Influencers
There are going to be those at any company who have a better handle on social media. Who are better known internally and externally, or who even simply have a scintillating personality. Don’t be afraid to use these “influencers” to encourage engagement and spread the word. This can include everything from rewarding engagement with gamification via badges and points, to simply identifying “influencers” to help roll out new policies and campaigns. There are many ways to be a leader, and they don’t all necessarily have to do with a position in management.
4. Know Your Employee Communications Tools
Email, enterprise social networks, intranets, and good-old fashioned newsletters—you probably have a number of tools sitting in your kit, and it’s important you use them to the best of their capabilities. Just as you wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer a nail or a saw to measure a table, you wouldn’t use a company email to conduct an office poll, or Twitter to conduct an employee review. Learn each channel’s capabilities, and then incorporate them into a single, unified plan. And platforms with social media aggregators can definitely help. If you’d like to see a demo of what we mean, click here.
5. Integrate Mobile & Video
Times are changing, and now more than ever employees are relying on mobile. Not to mention mobile-friendly video channels for information and entertainment. Rather than buck the trend, use it to your advantage. Make sure your communications are geared toward mobile devices. And don’t be afraid to incorporate videos as a major source of content. This is what will keep employees engaged in the modern day, when many only have a few minutes over a break or during a commute to check their phones for the latest information they can use.
6. Let Technology Help
Third-party articles and postings on relevant topics are a crucial part of a healthy content mix. But scouring the internet for these articles can be time-consuming. Why not let technology do a little of the work for you? Use content curation tools like Feedly and Scoop.it with key words to help find and grab the content for you. Or better yet, use a platform with the curation tools already built in.
7. Engage your Employees
Communication is not a one-way street. You need to encourage sharing and input from all employees – just as it is important to give your employees feedback as well. Additionally, to have a successful communication plan, employees need to know their place and their mission within the company, otherwise they won’t know what they’re sharing and communicating about. Studies found that if your employees understand their role in the business, 91% of them will work for success – compared to the 23% that will work for success when they don’t understand their role. So, make sure to make information accessible, give and get feedback, gain insights and ideas from your employees, and push them to work for success.
8. Measure Performance
It’s hard to know if something works if you don’t have any metrics to measure. When looking for a comprehensive platform, make sure you have the capability to keep track of key metrics like engagement, shares, and views. This is the best way to determine the effectiveness of different strategies. What works for one may not work for the other. Keeping track of the numbers will keep you from wasting time and energy on ineffective measures.