Internal communications aren’t on the top of the agenda for many businesses. In fact, recent CIPD research into employee communication found that only a little over 50% of employees surveyed felt fully or fairly well informed about their organisation. Of the remainder, slightly less than 50% said that they only received limited or very little information.
However, just because a lot of organisations aren’t taking internal communications seriously, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be.
Why internal communications are important
A recent survey showed that the cumulative cost per worker per year due to productivity losses resulting from communications barriers is around £19,600.
In other words, if you think developing an internal communications strategy is a pointless and costly indulgence, think again.
The good news is that with the right communications strategy, businesses can now draw on a host of different technologies to get their message across, beyond sporadic emails or full-on meetings. Here are just five that will help you along:
The company intranet
If you don’t already have one of these, then you should definitely consider getting one. That is because an informative and engaging intranet can become the go-to resource for employees looking to find out what is happening in different parts of your business. Not only can it be a valuable tool for minimising uncertainty in times of change, it can also help underpin a positive culture of openness and collaboration.
While some employees will always prefer to check the intranet or read the company newsletter over coffee, others will want to get their company updates on social media, so don’t forget this important channel. As well as helping you to engage with regular users, such as millennials, social media is also one of the quickest ways to stem the rumour mill by getting news out fast.
Related article: Social media and employee engagement
Texts and messaging apps are another great way to ensure that important business communications reach your staff. Whether your employees are office-based or mobile, at work or away on leave, you can be sure that everyone gets access to the same business news at the same time. What’s more, group text messaging through platforms such as WhatsApp can really help pull teams together and give a much stronger sense of community, allowing everyone to voice their opinions and even inject a bit of office banter.
Put simply, if you put your messages on video rather than writing it down, people are much more likely to take notice. That’s probably because, with videos being processed by the brain 60,000 faster than the written word, we can digest these sorts of messages much more quickly.
It also seems that we find video much more engaging; something that was underpinned by a Usurv study that found that consumers were 39% more likely to share marketing content and 56% more inclined to ‘Like’ it when it is delivered via video. While this study relates to an external audience, there is no reason to think your internal audience will be any different. In other words, if you want to get your staff to pay attention to your internal communications, putting those messages in video form could prove significantly more successful than other approaches.
Technology that enables you to track documents can be particularly useful for internal communications when dealing with HR documentation, such as legislative, compliance or contractual updates. As well as helping you ensure staff receive important messages, some document tracking software can require recipients to respond in some way, whether by acknowledging that they have received and read a document through to completing a survey or watching a training video. In some cases, it can also send out reminders to recipients who clearly haven’t read or engaged with your messages.
Developing an internal communications strategy
Of course, none of the above technologies will be of any use to you without the correct communications strategy in place.
But what if you are not sure where to start? The good news is that you will find a host of information online to help you develop an effective internal communications strategy.
For example, the CIPD offers a lot of advice in this area, including a free fact sheet on why employee communication matters.
You could also speak to specialist consultants or take training in how to develop an effective internal communications strategy.
And remember: once you have decided on the communications you want to send out, make use of all the best technologies to get your message across. Intranet, text messaging, video, whatever technology works best – perhaps with the exception of messages that self-destruct in 5 seconds. Over and out.
Written by Fiona Sanderson
Fiona is Marketing Manager at myhrtoolkit. Her areas of expertise include HR systems, productivity, employment law updates, and creating HR infographics.