It's almost early fall. In many parts of the country that signals the start of planting season. For example, in the east, it's prime time for putting cool weather grass seed in the ground, and planning ahead for spring and summer. Communicators shouldn't limit an inspiring fall to lawns and gardens. It's also the perfect time to look at our internal communication strategies.
Internal communications strategies often are the last to get dusted off, shined-up, and aired out as business leaders focus on other pressing issues.
In fact, only 58 percent of internal communication employees say they’ll be focusing their attention, and investing resources over the next 12 months on their communication strategies, according to the Gatehouse State of the Sector 2019 report. That’s down from 64 percent in 2018.
Unfortunately, it’s this lack of urgency surrounding internal communications strategies that creates an urgent need for updates.
Here are four tips to refresh internal communications:
Update values and infuse them with daily communication
Many leaders and communication pros work hard to create strong company values. But what employees related to five years ago may not resonate with your team now.
Revisit your company’s values and update them based on employees’ needs and passions. Use monthly pulse surveys to keep up with employees as they evolve. Keep it short and simple by asking a maximum of five questions to increase survey engagement and employee honesty.
Survey responses don’t mean you need to change your company's foundational values. For example, if collaboration is a core value, don’t remove it from your list. Instead, focus on its evolution within your organization. Identify what effective teamwork looks like for current employees.
Infuse values into daily communications. Incorporate them when recognizing an employee for outstanding work. When an employee goes above and beyond, make sure it's acknowledged. Do so on social, during daily stand-up meetings, in an employee chat window or newsletter. Include in your message that the employee's actions also are proof of one of the company’s core value.
In addition, share a daily inspirational post or quote via email or in a shared chatroom. Make sure it relates directly back to those updated values. Using touch points to communicate values will create a more meaningful connection between the company and employees.
Create an employee-inspired mobile strategy
Texts between co-workers should not be the extent of internal communications. New technology allows for full collaboration between employees, no matter where they’re located. Find internal communication inspiration in these relationships.
Rather than using mobile solely to enhance employee-to-employee communication, focus on how it can enhance organization-to-employee relationships.
Have employees' needs and expectations be the center of a mobile strategy. Use an employee communication app or text to keep your teams in the loop about company updates. Brief, frequent notifications make employees feel critical to the processes that make the organization successful without overwhelming them with information.
'Marie Kondo' unnecessary branding
Marie Kondo is considered one of the great organizers of our time. Use her tidying-up method for internal communication.
Anything left in the company “closet” that isn’t positively influencing employees’ view of the company, should be discarded. Examples include lengthy notes from the CEO or pages of information from the latest charity events.
Note that 50 percent of internal communicators say their biggest issue is getting busy employees to find time to absorb an excessive volume of material.
Instead, find the base-level messages that make employees feel they’re taken seriously, that their opinions matter. This includes business goal updates, how your team is involved in societal issues, and company strategies being updated due to employee feedback. Remove anything that’s left. Or at least limit it to once-a-month communications.
Nurture internal influencers
Seek natural-born positive influencers to help you bring growth and light to the company. Look for employees everyone goes to when they have a problem. Think about whom you hear offering motivation throughout the work week.
Reach out to these employees for internal communication support. Ask for their opinions on what you can do to brighten employees’ days. In addition, consider hosting weekly meetings with your group of influencers to discuss what they see as their co-workers' struggles. Use this information to guide your communication strategy as you decide what content to share and how to connect with employees.
Sandy Yu is VP, marketing and product management, EmployeeChannel, Inc