Organizational communication isn’t always simple. And one of the things that often stands in the way of effective Employee Communication at large companies is establishing and administering the governance. But with the right structure and strategy, you can administer your communication in a way that keeps employees informed and engaged.
It’s simply a fact: most of the time, Employee Communications programs succeed or fail because of the governance that’s in place. And this is especially true for large, international companies with offices spread across different countries, and a large population of frontline workers who often are not at a desk in direct connection to HQ. What’s the key to keeping such diverse and dispersed organizations united and connected around a common organizational communication hub? It’s constructing the administration and regulations in a way that gives privilege to relevant information, and that empowers managers at a local and global level to determine what that means.
In this article, you will learn:
1. The context of EC and governance
2. Why governance for EC is a tough but important subject
3. How to manage EC governance at a large organization
4. How does it translate to user experience in stores
5. How Sociabble can help
The Context of Employee Communication Governance
At Sociabble, we’ve worked extensively with global retailers with large populations of frontline workers, and we’ve seen similar challenges crop up each time. Challenges that strong and efficient governance, when it comes to their Employee Communication platforms, can help to overcome.
The fact of the matter is, these kinds of workers make up 80% of the global workforce, managing retail shops, making deliveries, and assembling products. And they’re often located hundreds if not thousands of miles away from corporate headquarters. Talking to frontline workers, keeping them engaged and in the loop, is not always easy. 84% of frontline workers say they don’t receive enough information from management, and 50% say they don’t understand the company strategy. Why do organizational communications fail? In our experience, it is often because of the governance in place when it comes to communication.
Why is Employee Communication governance a tough but important subject?
There are a host of factors that impact governance, but two, in particular, stand out: communication and organizational structure. Indeed, communication is a multi-dimensional subject, organizational versus operational, global versus local, top-down versus bottom-up, synchronous versus asynchronous.
According to Gartner, the Employee Communications application market has 2 solution focus areas: organizational communications (top-down) and operational communications (functional). If we take a closer look at those 2 dimensions, organizational and operational, within the context of a retailer, we find multiple use cases and objectives that can sometimes be competing for resources internally.
Example of Global Organizational Communication:
Workers who have never visited their employer’s offices feel connected with company news and success stories.
The Sociabble platform comes with features that make sharing company news and onboarding new employees simple, effective, and fun.
Example of Local Organizational Communication:
Announcement of a new regional manager.
Examples of Global Operational Communication:
Implementation of a Document Library to give access to documentation to Frontline workers without Office 365 licenses.
File sharing and easy access, even from mobile, is built into the architecture of Sociabble.
Examples of Local Operational Communication:
Workers learn about new field sales displays in their region.
And still another factor to consider when talking about governance is the organizational structure itself. Each structure has its own stakeholders, and each stakeholder has their own priorities. Let’s take the example of a “homogenous retailer,” which will likely have a centralized organization and management structure, and hundreds of local stores that are roughly the same and operationally oriented, with the primary differences being cultural factors and compliance rules.
In such a scenario, the stakeholders in organizational communication will inevitably at times have competing objectives. The global team will consist of Global comms, who are somewhat removed from what’s happening on the ground, Global IT, Global Legal, and a business unit that’s reluctant to invest in internal comms. The local team, on the other hand, will be comprised of retail managers, store managers, and frontline workers, all of whom are involved late, if at all, in the project’s inception. At Sociabble, as mentioned, we’ve worked extensively with large, global retailers with significant bodies of frontline workers, including Primark, L’Occitane, BTA, and more.
How to manage organizational communication governance at a large organization?
When it comes to putting a strong and manageable governance in place, there are specific steps you can take to ensure your platform performs and behaves as you wish. These are what we’ve found to work best for accomplishing precisely that, based on our experience working with large, global clients with a large body of frontline workers.
1. Audit and map your organization. Ask yourself the right questions; decide on your organizational communication project vision and objectives, and define the purpose of your project. Allocate clear responsibilities to the project stakeholders. And if you need assistance, Sociabble’s Customer Success Managers have helped hundreds of companies set up their new digital communication tools over the years. At every stage of the project, Sociabble consultants bring their unique expertise, acquired from working with organizations of all sizes, in many different sectors, and with specific objectives. Thanks to that experience, Sociabble consulting can be a significant factor in accelerating the success of a project.
2. Involve regional management. Alleviate some of your bottlenecks by empowering your local management and include relevant operational communication. This will generate traction and interest from the frontline workers who need that information to perform their jobs. Provide regional managers the right levers to communicate their messages, i.e., dedicated channels and communities they can manage, an easy-to-use newsletter engine, notification panel, etc. The possibility to access head office information easily and provide feedback can also make a big difference.
3. Implement the right, flexible Employee Communication tool. One tool that can adapt to the company-specific organization, with mapping inside the tool. Create groups and audiences to reflect the organizational structure and hierarchy, with corresponding levels of information and levels of access on the platform. A shop clerk in a Madrid store should only access relevant information to that location; too much global info will overwhelm.
4. Put in place the right safeguards. The right tool will allow you to limit the scope of some actions based on the profile of the administrator of the platform. For instance, a shop manager in Barcelona shouldn’t send out a notification to the shop clerk in Canada.
How does this translate to the user experience of colleagues in stores?
With the right governance in place, organizational communication will become a seamless user experience for frontline employees. Accessing the communication platform on their mobile app, for example, makes it easy for workers without a desk or professional email to stay informed and engaged with company and industry news, reaching them using a channel they already use regularly: mobile. And by branding the mobile app, you create a strong sense of belonging and identity. They feel part of the company, as opposed to just a WhatsApp group chat.
Furthermore, the information is 100% tailored to the audiences the employee belongs to. The users can access the “My Store” channel to learn about updates on their location. The newsfeed is personalized to avoid overwhelming the employees with irrelevant information, and thanks to automatic translation, the content is displayed in the users’ preferred languages. The users can give feedback to both head office and local managers, as easily as they would send a text or comment on a post.
Sociabble makes the Employee Communication experience seamless, with targeted news, surveys, and notifications designed to reach frontline workers at a desktop or mobile.
Do these challenges sound familiar? Sociabble can help.
Did you recognize yourself reading this article? Do you want to make sure that the Employee Communication project you’re launching will succeed? Do you want to benefit from the learnings and blueprints of renowned clients like Primark, L’Occitane, and Coca-Cola CCEP? At Sociabble, we’re ready and happy to help. Don’t hesitate to book a free demo right now; you will talk directly to one of our specialists dealing with large corporate Employee Communication programs.