As communication professionals, we often get asked the following questions:
- Is internal communications the same thing as employee engagement?
- How does internal communications impact business success/results?
With so many different phrases – internal communications, employee engagement, employee experience, workplace experience, company culture, etc. – it can be hard to see how it all fits together. But the answers to the two questions above are actually pretty straightforward.
Employee engagement is key to a company’s growth and success – research shows that highly engaged workforces enjoy a 90 percent better growth trend than those with less engaged employees. But engagement doesn’t just happen on its own – a primary driver of engagement is a strong internal communications program. So, you can look at it as: internal communications drives employee engagement, which drives business success. In fact, one study shows that companies with highly effective communications practices see 47% higher returns to their shareholders.
This year has certainly been anything but basic when it comes to employee communications and engagement, but regardless of how the pandemic has shifted our ways of working, the basics for creating a strong internal communications program remain the same. Here’s a refresher on best practices:
- Make it part of your employee engagement strategy. Internal communications is not a standalone initiative; it’s a tool for bringing your overall engagement strategy – which should be tied to your company’s strategic business plan – to life.
- Have a vision and a plan. Build a strategic plan that aligns with your company’s purpose and messaging, along with a framework for processes and protocols that will ensure communications are consistent, streamlined and effective.
- Connect the dots. From emails to intranet posts and everything in between, messages should reflect your company’s purpose, values and business strategy.
- Tailor to your employees. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to employee engagement and communication. Consider how an employee’s age and career stage impact their communication preferences and adapt your strategies, messages and tactics accordingly.
- Use multiple channels. Different employees will prefer and need to receive information in different ways. Incorporate a variety of channels and tools (e.g., text, digital, video, email, face-to-face, etc.) to fit the message, situation and employees’ preferences.
- Include employees in the conversation. Employees are more willing to help activate what they help create. Include them in the creation of your communications strategy and provide a means for feedback and ideas.
- Get leadership buy-in and people manager support. Leaders must commit to supporting and resourcing a strategic communications approach. People managers must understand their role in effective, enterprise-wide communications and have the skills and tools to fulfill it.
- Be transparent. Transparency enhances authenticity and increases trust among employees. Always explain “the why” behind decisions and be consistent in the information that’s shared.
- Provide the right tools. Ensure that your organization has the right tools and technology in place for effective communication company-wide.
By following these best practices, you can build a robust internal communications program that drives employee engagement and, ultimately, success for your company.