Historically, internal communications was the poor relation of marketing, but with the emergence of change management, it suddenly became the next big thing.
To us, it’s always been crucial. And before digital marketing, internal communications was a lot more ‘real’ and interactive than marketing ever was.
These days, you have two schools of thought:
- Send out a newsletter and you’re done
- Completely over-complicate and over-digitalise
For us, the channel is important but the message is so much more important!
What we’re all trying to achieve is a utopia where employees are valued and senior management work collaboratively with their teams. It’s important that senior leaders value them as experts and really listen to their words of wisdom to shape the future of the business.
Which channels are right for your business?
There really is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to internal communications. It depends on whether or not your staff are computer-based, whether they work independently or as part of a team, and so on.
For this reason, it’s good to take time to research what channels work for your audience. We always suggest you take time to understand the needs and wants of your audience rather than try and introduce new channels for the sake of it. If you start to send the right kind of information in the way your staff like to receive it, they’ll be more willing to listen. Then, you can continue to add richer content and new channels in the future.
If you’re introducing digital channels, don’t underestimate the more traditional channels too. There will always be a place for face-to-face communication, as it really is the best way to build rapport and strengthen relationships.
What kind of content do employees want?
We’re in the business of providing practical information that can be easily found and reused at a later date. Internal comms is very much about providing staff with advice, sharing best practice and giving them opportunities to collaborate in order to help them do their day jobs more effectively and efficiently. We’ve seen this work really well in global businesses where colleagues are keen to support and mentor each other.
However, there’s also the fundamental desire to build a culture, develop a sense of belonging, and emphasise the uniqueness of the business we work in. There’s definitely a place for people-focused, well-considered, thoughtful pieces that build a community. If you juxtapose these pieces with helpful, practical articles and maybe some social pieces, you’re more likely to engage with the different pockets of people around the business.
A newsletter, or in fact, any communication, works best when you’re making it easy for readers to pick and choose the articles that interest them, rather than expecting them to read every article from top to bottom.
How has the digital world changed employee communications?
In the same way that social media has allowed us to ‘get closer’ to our audience, the likes of Yammer and Teams have encouraged discussion groups. They bring bring together cross-functional teams from different areas of the business. We can now clearly see what people want, what they don’t, and engage with them much more regularly.
Video and video-conferencing provide a much richer experience. We believe it’s all in the planning – creating short, informative items rather than polished masterpieces.
So, what’s the one golden rule that should guide everything you do?
For us, it’s about putting yourself in the shoes of the staff. What do they want to hear and how do they want to hear it? Is there the opportunity to bring staff along with you rather than just impart reams of information?
Embarking upon each project as a network of experts with a diverse range of skills really does pay off. As staff and managers traverse the journey together and collectively, they will find their own future. A bit deep? Well, we need to aim high, right, otherwise what’s the point?
Do you have a project you need some practical help and advice on? Or a high-level starting point and a bit of direction you’re after? There’s nothing more exciting to us than being in it with you from the very beginning.