For any organisation, internal comms is a game-changer. Get it right, and it supports you to build genuine company cohesion, employee engagement, and a truly impactful workplace culture. Get it wrong, and it can be a powerful contributor to employee apathy and alienation.
What you communicate, how you communicate and when you communicate all matter. Good comms evolve in response to your internal environment, and to the broader external environment.
So, right now, in the second half of 2022, what are the pitfalls that might impact your comms approach? And how do you overcome them?
In our latest Caburn Hope webinar, Matthew Boyd, Product Evangelist at the award-winning employee experience software company Unily, talks risks and strategies with two of our top communications experts - Strategy Director, Chris Andrew, and Client Services Director Kate Whitley.
To watch the webinar in full, please click here. Or read on to discover more...
Risk 1: Communications overload
According to the research, 46% of enterprise comms leaders are currently citing information overload and digital distraction as a top challenge, while 43% of employees are failing to notice important information because of too many applications or because of the volume of information.
That information overload leads to two clear comms problems...
‘Too much noise often means that employees are going to start to switch off and to disengage,’ says Matthew Boyd. ‘Plus, a high volume of comms also translates to an increased burden on internal comms teams, which can lead to burnout.’
So, what are the answers? For Chris, the ideal response is to see comms as a balancing act: creating a proactive plan and a strategy that supports you to simplify your communications. This means paring down to focus on the key messages you need to deliver over the coming months, whilst also allowing time and space for unexpected need-to-know announcements.
‘There are always going to be last-minute, reactive comms,’ Chris says, ‘and they’re always going to get in the way. The way to deal with that is to have a clear communication framework in place – a look, a feel, a style, an agreed way that you communicate with various parts of your business. When you have that in place, then you can deal with unexpected announcements more quickly and easily than you would otherwise do.’
Kate added 'The best way to avoid comms overload is to always be clear about the purpose of any communication,’ she says. ‘On the one hand, it’s about using surveys, pulse checks, and two-way interaction to listen to what employees want to hear and to create communication that’s meaningful for them.’
‘Or, when there’s a top-down message that you need to communicate - if employees need to do something, or to be aware of something, or something’s going to change how they work – it’s about being very clear about what’s happening and why, so that employees quickly understand the purpose and value of the messaging.’
Risk 2: Unclear ownership of employee engagement
Employee engagement. It’s a key driver of organisational success. And according to the global analytics and advisory company Gallup, 70% of the variance in a team’s engagement is related to management.
And one key part of the managerial role? Communication.
So, how should internal comms teams work with managers to support communication that enhances employee engagement?
‘This is a tricky area,’ says Chris. ‘Not all line managers are effective communicators. But those conversations between the line manager and employee are incredibly important. They’re opportunities to inspire and get people emotionally connected to the business and to the team. But to achieve that genuine emotional connection, managers have to believe in what they're saying and they need to have a bit of support.’
This is where the internal comms team needs to step in.
‘We envisage the internal communications role as an advisor, a curator, an educator and an inspirer,’ says Chris. ‘Collecting content, bringing it to life and connecting that content to the purpose and values of your business.’
‘Internal comms build the framework and create the tools to make messages as easy to communicate as possible. So, alongside genuine, honest, authentic leaders, the comms team plays a big role in encouraging line managers to buy into their company’s key messaging – to believe and feel inspired by those messages - so that, in turn, they can inspire their teams.’
In other words, while employee engagement is the responsibility of management, internal communication plays a core role in ensuring that managers are adopting the mindset, behaviours and attitudes that create an inspiring workplace culture.
Risk 3: Failure to keep pace with technology
The American cloud-based software company Salesforce has found that 71% of employees want their company to provide the same level of technology as they use in their personal lives.
‘In an age in which we’re visiting the office less, technology has to play a more significant role in how we talk to one another,’ says Matthew. ‘We need good technology and we need an effective strategy for how we’re going to roll that out and how it will be used within our channel mix.’
The key to this, says Kate, is starting any overhaul by doing a channel audit, and understanding – in depth – the purpose that each channel serves.
‘At that point, you can look at any potential new technology to see if it will simplify your comms approach, or if it offers something that is better than you have already,’ says Kate. ‘The bottom line is always about genuinely improving the user experience.’
‘The channels that an organisation uses should reflect your culture,’ says Chris. ‘If you want to be authentic and empowering then social media is great. If you want to foster innovation then invest in collaboration tools. But it’s about using the right channels in the right circumstances for the right reasons. And it’s about combining the right channel with the right content.’
So, keeping pace with technology starts with understanding which technology will really simplify your comms mix and enhance your business. The next step is understanding which content will perform best with that technology. And the third step is understanding how to get your people ready for that technology.
‘I’ve regularly seen a system or an app be implemented and people are just sent an email saying, here are the login details - off you go!’ says Chris. ‘But people need to understand and appreciate how the technology fits into what your business is trying to achieve. They want to feel encouraged and empowered to use it.’
The real failure to keep pace with technology may not be down to the technology you buy, but the way you implement it. Make your software work for your people, by ensuring they know how to use it, why to use it, and when to use it. Communicate the benefits!
Want to find out more? Listen and subscribe to the webinar, today.