Three Ideas to Perk Up Your Internal Communications Strategy

Want your employees to stick around? Think long and hard about the tactics you use to communicate to them—as well as how they can respond. Here are a few internal communications strategies to try.

A lot of thought is often put into external communications, such as marketing materials and member engagement.

But the conversations happening internally deserve some consideration as well. And while the two communication types aren’t the same, they do have some commonalities.

When it comes to internal comms, strategies, of course, vary greatly. The employee newsletter of yore may be a fully digital product rather than one that’s printed out and left on desks. It’s easier than ever to contact an employee—or a group of them—at a moment’s notice. And there are always new tools, including technical ones, that can make the ground under your employee communication strategy feel a little shaky or over the top.

So why bother with an elaborate strategy? Simply put, ignoring the problem can have a negative impact down the road. As reports, a 2018 study from Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. found that 60 percent of organizations don’t have a well-considered internal communications strategy. And there’s reason to think that might change: Roughly half of respondents said it was a goal to improve employee communication, especially as poor employee interactions can mean a rotating door.

Some things to think about if you’re looking to make the most of your internal communications strategy:

Boost your email game. Despite all the buzz around dedicated apps and productivity software, email has a lot going for it—in fact, some studies find that it remains the most preferred method of internal communication among employees. But, just like any tool, you have to think hard about exactly how you wield it. A recent Forbes piece written by Michael DesRochers, the managing director of the communication tool PoliteMail, makes the case that you only have a few seconds to make an impact, so it’s important to make those seconds count. “Be creative, and be sure to elevate the key message, the button, the link or whatever you want an employee to think or do, up to the top—‘above the fold,’ in newspaper lingo,” he writes.

Consider going chat-centric. Digital chat platforms have become one of the biggest trends in the workplace over the last few years, and they can provide ways of disseminating information that will ensure it’s available instantly—and, of course, there’s the benefit of allowing your employees to be in constant communication, and even the potential of a direct feedback loop. But there’s a problem: Apps like Asana and Slack are gaining a reputation as a workplace distraction, not a helper, and that could lead some employees to resist it. “An increasing emphasis on new technology to moderate our workdays isn’t necessarily making our work better or making us more productive,” writer Rani Molla argued on Vox’s Recode vertical earlier this month. “If wielded poorly, it can even make it worse.” This point of view is growing in prominence, not shrinking.

Think beyond top-down. It’s easy enough to put in a method for the leader to send the occasional email or chat message, but the fact is, a lot of other communication is happening. In a recent blog post for the software research company G2 Crowd, writer Mary Clare Novak makes the case that it’s important to consider two types of high-touch internal communication in this process: Two-way communication between leadership and employees, and cross-department communication, so that different teams have an understanding of what’s happening throughout the organization. “Today’s workplaces cannot thrive without inclusive communication,” Novak writes. “While providing information is the spark that initially lights the communication flame, feedback tends to it, keeping that fire healthy and efficient.”

(PashaIgnatov/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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