- The formal one – for example, a quarterly business update, with half your employees snoozing in the background and the other half trying to catch up with their WhatsApp and email overload.
- The informal one – by the water cooler, the coffee machine, the lunch table, the pantry, and the smoking zone. It is often marked by its high decibels, high spirits, camaraderie, and all things nice.
Have you ever wondered why most institutionalized internal communication is so boring that the forms it comes in (generally newsletters and all-hands meets) are dismissed without a thought? It is because very little effort has gone into keeping things interesting and constantly evolving as far as internal communication is concerned. This is especially true for small businesses and start-ups.
But it is 2017, and your social media-savvy workforce is your biggest brand ambassador for potential customers, partners, and employees. Why wouldn’t you cater to their distinct taste when you engage them? Why would you not want your message to resonate and be retained so your workforce can feed it forward? Why would you not want your employees to take pride in their employer brand and make it as aspirational as it truly is? Of course you want all of that!
People-friendly policies and a safe and fun workplace are one way to do it. The other is to communicate all that you are doing well in a way that makes sense in 2017.
Go beyond newsletters
Newsletters are a convenient (and more importantly, inexpensive) way to get the word out. But they are also a little boring and a tad too formal for internal communication. Think bite-size videos, enterprise social media platforms, and more. The outlets are yours for the taking!
Include different perspectives
No matter what your platform is, content remains key. Much like most other communication, perspectives matter when it comes to creating interesting content. Sure, the CEO’s signature carries weight, and employee engagement is primarily an HR business function. But internal communication must also be designed to help your employees find a voice, share their stories, and shine. “Star Employee” sections of newsletters and notice boards are an old but sure-fire way to achieve it. Another is to have employees from different business functions and seniority levels front internal communication. While the content strategy must remain consistent, different voices and perspectives and “real people content” keep things interesting.
Brevity is essential
Your employees are already over-worked. Add to that the distractions of personal commitments, social media, instant messaging and more, and you have a workforce that is constantly prioritizing what to allocate time to and how much. Don’t be a pile on! Say your piece, keep it bite-sized and engaging, and move along.
Measurement must evolve too
A number of small businesses don’t measure the impact of their internal communication activities. When they do, it is usually only the traditional click and open rates. It is time to think beyond these and see if your call to action works. Do your employees feel compelled to share content on their personal social media? Do they adopt the ideas that your listicles provide? Do they download the new training app your organization has invested in? What do they have to say about your content in employee satisfaction surveys? These are important parameters to measure your internal communication effectiveness. It is time businesses adopted these instead of simplistic traditional measures.
The gig economy and distributed workforce are trends that are truly taking corporate culture by storm. Soon, back slaps and coffee machine chats will become a thing of the past, and there will be nothing to offset the monotony of an old-school internal communication strategy. In such a situation, effective internal communication is going to become even more crucial in order to excite, engage, inspire and eventually retain employees. Rethink your internal communication strategy before it is too late.