“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
George Bernard Shaw
Never assume that just because you’ve hit send, the message will land…
Any business worth its salt understands the power of communication when it comes to attracting clients or customers. Yet when it comes to internal communications, which are just as important, many scrimp on the time and effort they spend. Often, they simply hit send on the odd email or company newsletter and assume that’s enough to keep everyone up to date and engaged.
Just like your clients or customers, your colleagues are key assets and advocates of your business. So, to assume you can communicate effectively via an ad hoc or functional communication can be a risky oversight.
Plus, your colleagues are busy. Just because you’ve sent them something to read, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve had the time or the inclination to do so. Say, for example, you’ve always sent the same annual brochure out via email at the same time and hoping the content will stick. Chances are, those emails have become wallpaper in an already overflowing inbox. Or say you’ve always relied on your intranet platform to outline key updates. All well and good, but do you actually know how well those messages are landing or what people make of them?
Think of your internal communications strategy as a way of conversing with your employees, rather than simply talking at them. Communication is a two way street, and to keep things fresh and engaging you need to keep things well, fresh and engaging!
Think internal conversation, rather than internal communications and you’ll already be on the right track. Here are some tips to add to this:
Spark a talking point
Think of your internal communications as the start of a conversation. When was the last time you asked your colleagues how they like to hear from you? Bear in mind one approach doesn’t necessarily work for all – if you’ve got some colleagues in head office and others on the factory or shop floor, they may prefer different forms of communication and at different times. Think about sending out regular surveys, or holding regular feedback sessions or workshops with a specific focus on communication. This is also a great way to help colleagues feel valued and heard.
Companies will always put maximum effort into tailoring and segmenting external marketing communications to get results, so why wouldn’t we do the same with our internal ones? If anything, the past 18 months have taught us a lot about how employees’ needs differ, and how we can tailor communications to best support them and spark their interest. Say, for example, you’re on the cusp of rolling out an internal wellbeing initiative. Have you thought about which sections of your workforce might respond best to different messages? Those remaining at home might be most receptive to support around managing work-home balance, while those returning to the office will appreciate communications around any new health and safety measures in place. By tailoring your messages to your audience segments, you’re much more likely to get more engagement with the right people and not end up with something just relegated to the trash folder.
Channel your messages
Again, when creating an external communications strategy, we all know that multi-channel campaigns tend to be the most effective. Your internal messages should land no differently. Mixing up your messaging so that it can run across a variety of formats, from email to your intranet through to posters means they have a much higher chance of engaging your colleagues overall. You might even want to try out some communication formats you’ve not considered before. An animated video, for example, can be an effective way to engage people with important and timely headline messages.
Delve into the data
When it comes to measuring the success of any communications strategy, data is king. You’d never invest money in an external campaign without measuring your ROI, and so it follows suit that you should never invest time and money into your messaging to colleagues without analysing the results! If your intranet platform allows you to create engagement reports then give this a try, and track the open and click through rates of your internal emails. If you can’t get access to hard data, then simple staff surveys can provide lots of insight into general sentiment around your messages, and help you plan even more effective ones in the future.
By giving your communications some much needed love and attention, you’re much more likely to hold the attention of colleagues and get more impactful results and hold off seeing your carefully crafted messages head straight for the recycle bin. Ready to find out more and how we can support your employee communications? Talk to us.