Companies invest a great deal of resource in communicating with their customers but many forget to include one of their most important stakeholders: their employees.
Internal communications is the central nervous system of any organisation, creating a strong alignment between goals, plans and strategies and employees. Put simply, it acts as the middleman between employer and employee and, over recent years, has emerged as a function that is less about the organisation and more employee-centric.
Jane Kroese, PR Account Director at KISS, has many years of experience of Internal Communications. She explains: “In today’s competitive world it can no longer be viewed as a ‘nice to have’ - the importance of an effective IC strategy can never be underestimated. When communicating effectively with employees, higher engagement levels are achieved, staff morale is boosted, absences are reduced and productivity improves.
“And of course, technology - and in particular the world of social media and networking - has changed the shape of the Internal Communications role. Forward thinking companies that see it as a critical business function, one that is intrinsic in driving business strategy, have acknowledged that contact with employees via social media is one of the most effective and beneficial ways.
“Traditional methods - face-to-face, notice boards, newsletters - still have a place, but they do need to be part of a comprehensive communications mix which suits all. The best communication is always two-way with a flow of information from management and feedback from employees.
“If management are able to communicate the company’s vision with passion, and staff can participate and feel heard, then you can transform disgruntled employees into credible brand ambassadors.”
Internal communications isn’t always as easy to implement and maintain as many people think. The initial implementation, and maintaining momentum afterwards, are critical for it to be effective.
Here are some starting points from KISS: 1. Take a snapshot: undertake a mini-audit to consider what’s working, and what isn’t. Ask your employees how they want to be informed? You need a snapshot of how you currently pass information on to your staff.
- Conduct regular two-way dialogue: frequent communication between management and employees is essential. Avoid the traditional top-down approach of management and involve staff in decision making, giving them a voice. You could consider a corporate blog as a quick and easy way of communicating with your internal audiences. You can champion staff success and showcase key achievements – making your organisation personable at the same time as making your staff feel valued.
- Use appropriate communications channels: social media networks have recently shaped the internal communications function. Ensure you’re using social media as a method of interaction, and confirm that you are up to date with what media channels you - and your employees - are using.
- Solicit feedback from employees: encourage feedback from employees so that you can understand what you should be doing more or less of. It will also allow you to take into consideration and truly comprehend your employee’s opinions and views.
- Inject some creativity: avoid using meetings as your main method of interaction. Ensure that you integrate creativity into your communication to prevent boredom.
- Clear, simple and concise messaging: avoid using jargon and acronyms. This will allow you to convey your message without causing confusion and misinterpretation.
- Develop a strong narrative: develop a strategic narrative vision of the future, which is supported by actionable and achievable objectives. It should also paint a realistic picture of the role of employees in the future.
- Recognise outstanding work: when employees perform well or produce outstanding pieces of work, acknowledge it and praise them. Employees will become more motivated, which in turn increases performance and productivity.
- Plan your internal communications strategy thoroughly: make sure you have objectives, strategies and tactics all set in place, with a clear and consistent message throughout.
- Recognise the power of leadership: leaders determine corporate cultures and attitudes. The approach and communications style of everybody within your organisation comes from your management. If you want a passionate and motivated workforce, you need your leaders to be passionate communicators.
Revamping or starting your internal communications can help you make transformative change from the inside out, improving your reputation, maximising the abilities of your workforce and giving you an important competitive advantage. KISS can offer a range of internal communications expertise and workshops to help you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and to discuss your needs.