• Cat Graham

5 Essential Guidelines for Effective Employee Communications

2020 has changed the way we communicate to employees; structuring the content, cadence and cascade is more important than ever. Colleagues are burnt out and don’t want the mental anguish of starting work with 90+ emails before they even start their day. So, you need an empathetic and strategic employee communications plan to engage and inspire your workforce, which in turn will drive better productivity and business results.

In a Dynamic Signal Impact study, they noted 63% of employees are so frustrated by the way their company communicates with them that they're ready to quit. While many companies have scaled down this year, it’s important to focus on the retention of the employees you have, who in turn drive customer success. In fact, it can cost you the equivalent of an annual salary to replace that one person who leaves. Your employee communications strategy should facilitate important conversations and engagement with key leaders to best deliver on key business needs and opportunities throughout the company.

Audit: Seek Out the Opinion of Your Audience

Audit your internal communications to gain insights into how management thinks the organization communicates and learn how employees perceive the quality and quantity of the content they receive. This will also signal to employees that your organization emphasizes both culture and driving the business through communication. The audit should begin with cross-functional and cross-level focus groups that can help define the best practices and pain points of internal communications including level of detail, channel and audience reach. Engage with a third-party to review the previous 3-to-6 months of employee communications from HR, Leadership, Communications and Marketing to understand the overarching narrative and consistency throughout your organization.

Objectives: A Goal without a Plan is Just a Wish

If 2020 has emphasized one thing it is that employees have high expectations from their employer. The way you communicate with them, especially around COVID-19, physical and mental health and societal issues is a foundational driver to your culture and their experience.

Companies can no longer “wing it”, internal communications need an overarching strategy to meet the needs of your key stakeholders. Consider what it is you need to achieve, include geopolitical stand-by content for crises, such as societal issues and pandemics as we have seen this year. Your plan should include ways to empower managers to amplify messages, recognize employees who embody brand values and deliver on the customer experience. Make sure your plan includes a way to engage with internal customers before external customers – meaning if you have a corporate announcement, when at all possible, ensure your employees do not see it on social media or on the news before they hear from you.

Timing and Measurement

Not everything rises to the level of a multi-layered and multi-channel communication. Employees already have data fatigue and you want your messages to break through the noise. 48% of workers consider video to be the most engaging form of communication. When done right, visuals convey information in an easy-to-digest manner and have a more lasting impression than text. There are tools you can provide your key leaders to ensure they are able to deliver quality video messages from home.

Align Internal to External

Employees need to be informed of any news, first and fast. They should also have about 25% more information than the external audience, so they feel as though they are a valued member of your team and have inside knowledge of how an achievement was accomplished or a decision was made. Employees should receive guidance on what they can and cannot do with the content, but also how it impacts their role and responsibilities and the company as a whole. If your internal audience isn’t aligned and engaged in delivering what you are promising to your customers, they are very likely to miss expectations for the customer experience, creating a disconnect for your customers.

Employee Focus

Showcase true inclusion of title, experience, department and most importantly include your diverse employees. Employee communications has a big role to play to help create greater workforce equality. Inclusive companies are 120% more likely to hit financial goals. When people feel included at work, they're better able to band together and are much more likely to meet their financial goals. Adopt a multichannel approach to better engage with all employees. Include employee-featured storytelling as part of your approach. Especially since many will remain remote, this engagement driver will keep colleagues close. Show empathy in every communication, so your colleagues feel your organization values them.