Good internal communication is the lifeblood of any successful organization, and yet, so many of us overlook it. Whereas decades ago we didn’t have much choice in our channels for communication, today we’re faced with a web of options — from mobile platforms like Slack, to traditional email blasts. The rise of mobile and connected apps continues to transform the way employees disseminate and receive information.
So, what does this mean for you?
Now, more than ever, your employee communications strategy should be tailor-made for your organization. Taking advantage of all your available options can mean an increase in productivity and morale within your company. Sitting back and relying on outdated communications methods, however, might be putting you into the hole — one email at a time — without you even knowing it.
The cost of poor communication isn’t something to take lightly. Gallup polls indicate that lack of communication is a major factor contributing to employee disengagement, which costs workforces up to $550 billion each year. Another study of companies with over 100,000 concluded that less-than-ideal internal dialogue contributed to an average loss of $62.4 million per year.
Aside from financial losses, poor communication leads to a decrease in efficiency, morale and innovation. This doesn’t bode well for a growing business.
Set aside some time to analyze how you are communicating information with your employees. Odds are, there is plenty of room for improvement.
Communication is often about change, so it’s especially important that methods of communicating remain malleable and adaptable, too. More companies are funneling resources into internal communications because of its inextricable link to employee productivity and happiness. Poor internal communications often means not keeping the promises associated with your company brand, which can spell disaster for your hiring efforts and overall reputation.
Before doing anything else, you should take a broad look at your workforce segments, get to know their needs and uncover their personalities. All of this will be important in deciding how to communicate with each of them. Not every employee is created equally — even those who are performing the same jobs. Some are natural born managers, others are indirect influencers. Some nurture other people out in the open, others analyze data behind the scenes. Your priority with your main segments should be to balance the “need to know” information with the “want to know” information, while filtering out the clutter in between.
Equipped with the right information, you can create the most effective employee communications strategy for your organization.
Keeping your information exchange up-to-date and optimized doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Begin your communications “rebranding” with these tips in mind.
Choose a (mobile-first) chat platform.
The average worker receives around 121 emails per day, which tells us that email is no longer a channel we can rely on for quick responses. In fact, accumulating subject lines are more often ignored and forgotten about until an employee has sufficient time to address them (which might not be until days later).
That’s where team chat platforms come in. Slack, Flock, Google and others have created chat mechanisms for employees and managers to easily sync up on both desktop and mobile. These tools allow even those workers who may not be in front of a computer to receive information instantly. It’s important to develop a reasonable set of guidelines for when you’ll communicate with employees through these channels. For example, you might want to instate a rule that mobile messages outside office hours should be limited to extremely pressing matters.
Encourage transparent dialogue.
When it comes to employee communication, you should aim for a dialogue — not a monologue. Talking at someone is a surefire way to get them to tune out and feel unheard. Develop an atmosphere that allows even the most reserved employees to come forward and speak their minds. You can achieve this by being transparent in your own way of communicating, listening intently and responding personally. Avoid the one-size-fits-all employee broadcasts, unless the information is important for everyone across the organization.
In addition, communication today should be entertaining and effective without being stiff. Consider dropping in a fun video here and there, or have a contest surrounding an important event that gets your employees creating and talking.
Simplify and shorten.
In the age of hyperfast internet speeds, lighting quick buffer times and general information overload, sending clear and concise communication to your employees is both effective and refreshing. Studies show that employees under the age of 35 feel a need for instant gratification and have a loss of patience — neither of which are alleviated by unfocused messages in the workplace.
Consider your employees’ position. They’re constantly bombarded with tasks and to-dos, and must efficiently manage their time. Your goal should be to get them quickly interpreting and executing after they read a message, not pondering hidden meanings.
Measure your success.
It may seem challenging to measure something as diffuse as internal communications, but metrics in this area are extremely important. Are employees more engaged? Are they more relaxed and productive? Answers to these questions determine the success of your efforts.
Conducting surveys and tracking response rates can go a long way. Analytics tools are becoming more advanced in this area; for example, you can now utilize software to read verbal clues in Slack communications that help determine if employees are sufficiently informed and satisfied.
Make measurable progress in reasonable time.
Don’t let the importance and sheer magnitude of company-wide communications deter you from taking small steps toward optimizing it. Today’s data- and mobile-driven landscape ushers in new ways to chat, collaborate and get things done. By paving the way for increased exchange of information, you open up possibilities for improving the overall health of your organization in ways you never thought possible.
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