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When silence isn’t golden: the art of internal communications

by Rachael Maundrell

The State of the Global Workplace – a worldwide survey conducted found only 13% of employees were engaged at work.  That’s right, only one-in-eight employees across the globe are committed to their jobs and making positive contributions to their organisation. A staggering 63% indicated they were “not engaged” and 24% sat in the “actively disengaged” bracket.

Problematic? We think so. The question is; how do managers actively re-engage those who have mentally checked out?There are a number of factors that influence an employee’s level of engagement and loyalty, and financial reward is just one of those. Incentives or bonuses may be what drive some employees, but often the solution can be as simple as feeling valued and “in the loop”. Put simply, good communication can ensure that staff feel involved and know what’s going on in the business.

As PR professionals, we quite often observe that employee communication is overlooked or poorly executed.  Certainly, staff shouldn’t necessarily be privy to market sensitive company information, but regular updates on projects, new staff, and general communications on organisational goals and achievements can go a long way to making staff feel as though they are an important member of the team… and experience tell us that they’ll act accordingly.

Here are a few quick tips to help you better engage with your employees and to foster productive and proactive contributions to the organisation:

Imagine Your Employees are an External Audience
Every day, organisations commit resources – time and money – to well-designed and delivered communication plans to external audiences. Why not do the same for your employees? When you do, remember these key points:
• Identify the audience – are you targeting one department, the whole organisation, or just those who have commenced employment recently?
• Be relevant – create a clear, relevant message that will resonate with your employees.
• Be strategic – don’t send internal communications to only satisfy short-term goals.
• Pick the right channel – does a poster, video, email or face-to-face contact best suit your goals?

Grow Your External Brand, Internally
Communicate internally in the same way you’d like your employees to communicate externally. Tailor the language you use, the goals you set, and the workplace culture you cultivate so that it flows through to your clients and your marketplace. Your staff are your brand ambassadors, and if you take the time to align your internal communications with your brand, your business will reap the rewards.

Use the Right Tools
An intranet, staff newsletters and a noticeboard are excellent tools if they are used effectively, but often go unread and unused if the content is stale or repetitive.
If you think your internal communications are not working, don’t be afraid to try something new. Start an organisational LinkedIn group, run a new event, invite feedback, encourage staff blog contributions or cultivate employee posts on company Facebook and Twitter pages.

Gather and Use Intel – Feedback is Your Greatest Ally
The greatest advantage in undertaking an internal communications campaign is seeking evaluation and feedback. You have a captive audience – speak to your colleagues and gather informal feedback, or quickly and cheaply conduct an internal survey. Gather as much feedback as you can – as often as you can – and channel it into improving future internal communications activities.