The way in which a message is communicated is almost as important as the message itself. When it comes to internal communications within the workplace, this certainly holds true – and unfortunately, it’s commonly accepted among HR professionals that consistent internal communications is one of the most widely-faced challenges in the workplace.
Efficient and clear communication between employers and employees is critical to success – poor communication is a catalyst for disgruntled, disengaged employees, and can make or break a workplace.
So, what can you do to ensure that your internal communications are up to scratch?
Why internal communication matters
There’s no getting away from the fact that engaged, happy employees can be the driving force behind an organization’s success. Effective internal communication can foster a cohesive workplace culture, where every employee is aware of the company’s goals – and this is key to ensuring that each team and individual is able to work collaboratively towards them.
As baby boomers retire, and millennials and Generation Z make up a huge part of the workplace dynamic, research suggests that employees value and thrive on feedback and interaction. Having a robust internal communications strategy means that workers will have a clear understanding of the business’ goals, they’ll know how they can work towards them, and they’ll feel confident about their value to the business and how they can contribute.
Organizations will spend huge amounts on perfecting and executing their external communications, ensuring they’re primed to engage with their target audience and grow the business – but if the workforce behind the business feels disengaged or unclear on what the company stands for and is working towards, it could ultimately all be for nothing. Ensuring that employees feel valued, listened to and part of the team can all be achieved through a well-planned internal communications strategy, and that’s why it’s vital that HR professionals take steps to fix any existing communication problems within the workplace.
How to improve internal communications in the workplace
Before you can improve upon your current internal communications, you need to know exactly where you currently stand and what it is that you want to achieve – what do you want your internal communications to do for your team and your company, and how far away are you from achieving this? Strategizing and planning is important, and later we’ll look at how you can actually write an internal communications strategy for your workplace. But first, there are many areas to be considered, such as:
- Determining which are the best internal communication tools e.g. company chat software such as Slack, cloud technology such as Google Drive and one platform for all emails, calendars and documents such Google or Microsoft
- Using visuals to display key company information such as company announcements, job openings, sales and marketing metrics, and other useful information such as breaking news, motivational quotes and even social media feeds
- Providing channels for feedback and ideas, such as a company forum, a designated channel within the company chat software, a cloud-based service – or even a communal whiteboard or suggestions box within the office
- Encouraging cross-departmental communication and collaboration
- Ensuring that you avoid information overload
Once you’ve considered all of the points above and determined what is feasible and would work best for your workplace, your next step should be to write up and implement an internal communications strategy.
How to write an internal communications strategy
The general trend in messaging nowadays is that brevity is key – people feel the need for instant gratification now more than ever, so your internal communications strategy should be centered around this trend.
Though the idea of instant communication isn’t new, it’s taken on a whole new meaning in our lives – we’re hyperconnected, ‘always on’ and more impatient than ever. Internal communications which involve slow-loading internet, videos that won’t buffer, and messages that aren’t replied to almost instantly are almost certain to fail – communication needs to be brief, precise, and ideally not delivered over email.
Furthermore, today’s employees place an increased focus on company culture – it’s more than just a few words on the wall in the office - and staff today expect it to be integrated from top management professionals all the way through to juniors and entry-level staff. Internal communications strategies which incorporate company culture tend to foster the ‘team fit’ and genuinely promote the idea that the business is one big family.
Having said this, increasing numbers of employees also value flexibility within their jobs – and for many this means having the option of working remotely. So not only do HR professionals face the challenge of integrating company culture into their communications strategy, they must now find a way to engage with employees who work remotely, and to ensure that they’re collaborative and integrated into the business, even if they’re not physically present in the workplace.
With an increased need for internal communication to be instant and accessible to every employee regardless of their location, it’s only logical that your strategy should be mobile-centered. While content management systems and workplace intranets are viable channels for your internal communication, if you’re not embracing the move toward mobile apps and social media then you’re probably going to struggle to gain employee support and engagement.
How to measure communication in the workplace
We’ve already touched upon the importance placed on feedback and ideas, but it’s vital that the importance of this isn’t underestimated – the best way to measure the success of your internal communications is by having metrics and markers in place.
Gathering both quantitative and qualitative results is key to ensuring that you have a well-rounded measurement of your internal communication strategy, and this can be done in a number of ways.
1. Use an email tracking tool
We’ve already touched upon the best platforms to use when implementing your strategy, however, it’s inevitable that some of your communication will come via email. This is when having a tool which can provide you with stats such as opens, click-throughs and deletes is essential. Over time you’ll be able to pinpoint which emails are getting engagement - which simply aren’t piquing interest - and you’ll be able to adapt accordingly.
2. Encourage group discussions
Giving employees the opportunity to discuss problems openly encourages a solution-driven mindset. It’s also a great way of measuring your internal communications and can help you to understand what is working well and what needs improvement.
3. Use polls and questionnaires
Employee polls and surveys are infinitely useful when it comes to collecting insights and ideas, and can be a great way of tracking the success of your communications strategy.
4. Provide discussion forums
Not all employees will be confident or outgoing enough to join in during an open group discussion, so providing an anonymous online forum is a great way of encouraging employees to share without feeling uncomfortable.
5. Ask for employee feedback
Providing a space either online or physically in the office where employees can leave their ideas and feedback is a simple way of showing that you value their input, and this can be a great way of measuring the effectiveness of your communications strategy.
Finding the best way to measure employee engagement and communication in the workplace will vary within organizations, but ultimately your staff want to be heard, to feel valued and to know that they’re contributing to the overall success of the business.
Communication is constantly evolving, and keeping up with what your workforce want and need is essential – especially in a world where we’re used to instant messaging and ever-flowing communication.
Effective internal communication is a powerful force which can help enrich the lives of your employees, ultimately increasing customer satisfaction and the overall performance of the company. Being prepared when it comes to your internal communications and providing your organization with effective tools for communicating with one another is a vital function which, when implemented correctly, can help to inspire and align everyone.
For more research and statistics about the current state of HR, click here.
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