Internal communications can be packaged in many different forms. Employee engagement, internal branding, employee communications, communications strategy…and many more.
How many of us have wondered or asked how the employees ‘package’ us?
I have made a point of asking this question when doing site visits and was pleasantly surprised to hear that some employees really value what we do, but I am much more interested in the opinions of those who think ‘we’ just sit in our ivory tower with no regard for employees and how they feel. To these employees we “drop bombs and hide.”
So what does the Internal Communications function do and how can we do it better?
- Ensure the right message(s) reach the right employees at the right time
- Actively try to ensure employees feel proud of the work they do
- Help employees connect and work better together
- Deliver difficult messages to employees in a carefully considered way
- Help the business and its employees work more collaboratively
- Diffuse potential ‘Comms bombs’
- Engage leaders and equip managers with tools to lead their teams
- Give managers insight into the employees needs
- Make two way communications easy so employees can talk openly about their work
- Ensure business change roll-out is effective and beneficial
- Ensure employees feel connected to the company and feel proud of where they work
- And much more…
Where should the Internal Communications team sit?
As an Internal Communications professional in a FTSE 250 company, I consider internal communications and employee engagement to be close relatives that are essentially connected.
Done correctly, internal communications will results in engaged employees, and if internal communications are not aiming to engage employees, then what purpose does it have!
Delivering engaging communications means you need to listen to and empower your employees, you need to understood them and facilitate them in sharing ideas with you to help make a positive change.
When planning employee engagement, the internal communications team should be involved. And vice versa. In fact these functions should be one and the same to begin with.
Often the information being delivered across a corporate company can mean change and uncertainty for the employee and in some cases can be uncomfortable, causing ripples of reluctance and if delivered badly could be a potential communications bomb.
Defusing the Comms bomb.
Don’t just throw information at employees and assume they understand it…instead really communicate with them and do all you can to ensure the information is understood.
With careful wording, while placing the wellbeing of the recipient at the forefront of the message, it is possible to successfully deliver a difficult message, by deciphering and highlighting the benefit of the ‘change’ to the employees.
Let’s take a look at an example ‘Comms Bomb’
‘You are asked by a director to communicate a change in process will take place that will mean all employees are to complete daily time sheets. The core concern for the director is to ensure all employees comply because it will benefit the company’
At first glance this is a potential communication bomb that could result in a heated response by employees. Often communications about change can result in some employees feeling stressed by the uncertainty about why something is happening.
If you don’t fully understand the message or reason behind the need to communicate it, you are not equipped to deliver the message effectively. If in doubt always seek further clarification.
The director then explains that being able to analyse timesheet data in the long term will, among other benefits, enable the company to better estimate the actual cost of future projects. This will mean the company can hire/invest in a more accurate amount of resources and ensure a more profitable business which benefits everyone…less waste, better systems, greater success, better pay, healthier employees and greater employee benefits.
So the core message will still be the implementation of time sheets but you are now equipped to presented the message with tangible benefits for employees. The message can be delivered as a worthwhile initiative that will make business better for all and you are prepared if anyone replies with concerns.
Engage your target audiences with the right kind of message and if the messages are received well, you have defused the Comms bomb. Simple.
When employees truly believe in the company they work for, they will work hard to contribute to the success of the organisation. When employees feel they are a part of a work community, a culture, they will understand each other, encourage and invest in each other and as a result will grow the company.
The successful growth of any company relies on effective ‘internal employee engagement communication’.