Today’s workforce is changing – fast. Regardless of industry, scope or size, the internal workings of how a business runs continue to evolve. Information travels faster. Remote work increases. Content appetite broadens. With it all, the desire to understand what’s happening – and when – also grows.
Amidst change, however, employees want to understand and reach their goals as much now as they ever have. And they need to feel that their employer will support them. This is where connecting with your people through internal communication is most valuable. However, the balance can pose a challenge.
For a business to excel, it needs to treat its people as its most valuable commodity – inspiring them to do their best work. Done right, your strategy can connect to any number of business imperatives: financial growth, education, motivation, recruitment, retention and more.
As we write in our e-book on internal communications, there is no magic formula. To start, a good marketer needs to think like a good employee. This blog provides some of the high-level considerations for this approach, which our e-book explores in greater detail.
Start at the Ground Floor
What is your goal? Any campaign plan should start with that question. Without it, you cannot move forward.
From here, it’s important to think through questions about your employees’ unique situations and needs. How is your organization set up? Are there departments? What platforms already exist to share information? What are people hungry for? What new information would matter to them?
With these considerations in mind, you are prepared with the elements to help build your strategy.
Connect to Your Culture
Just about any working professional knows the pain of a cluttered inbox. The idea of receiving more notes and assignments can be off-putting, so it’s important to give your communication meaningful value. Businesses should focus on updates most closely tied to company news and culture; these are the connective glue that can inspire pride in a staff’s work.
A good way for medium- and larger-sized companies to build human connection is appointing “brand ambassadors.” These are employees who are on the pulse of company culture, whose job it is to educate peers about what’s happening and to get them engaged. Surveys can also be effective before you get started, since they can give you a chance to match your perceptions with more empirical feedback.
In addition, companies should also think through the right mediums for growing awareness. Introducing a new tool or platform should only be done if you are ready for the time and financial investment to roll it out. Remember that change is difficult enough. So, even familiar tools such as email can be effective in moderation.
Curate a Shared Journey
Bring people in. No initiative can ever be fully successful without people buying into what you’re trying to accomplish.
An effective approach is to meet employees where they are. Identify popular areas where your news would get noticed without much behavior change: at the desk, on the go, in shared meeting spaces.
Before launching a campaign, think about whether there is an opportunity to preview it with employees – foreshadowing what’s to come, why it’s important, what they can do and what’s in it for them. For example, convene a “town hall” meeting with leadership, send office-wide electronic communication, post signage or leverage the company intranet, if available. This helps to remove the guesswork from what’s happening.
Company leaders should also be visible to employees. By walking around, introducing themselves to others and even just checking in, they can help people – for lack of a better phrase – feel like people.
Once underway, monitor how things are going. Since measurement of success is somewhat subjective, there are multiple avenues to choose from.
One approach is through the tools you use to share information. As a high-level example, tracking the number of emails opened, blogs viewed or responses sent can provide insight on how effectively your content is reaching desired audiences. Interpersonal dialogue is also vital. Consider ways for your leaders or company ambassadors to schedule check-in meetings or focus groups with employees. This can give you the opportunity to ask more pointed questions regarding areas you want to better understand – opportunities and challenges, what’s working and what isn’t.
Success is driven by continual learning, testing and refining. Expecting quick hits may come at the expense of long-term growth.
But don’t blow things up at the first sign of difficulty. Be patient.
Remember that your audience – staff, workforce, internal stakeholders – are your most precious commodity. The most successful internal communications models need to carefully balance a two-way relationship. At their most fundamental, your goals need to live at the intersection of business and company culture. Leaders should recognize the skepticism that comes with change and the gradual, confident approach necessary to build trust.
Finding your passion for people can lead to the recruitment, retention and performance that are the cornerstones of business success.