How to build effective internal communications strategies at work
If you haven’t heard of World Hello Day, you are not alone. The idea is that simply by greeting ten people to mark the occasion (today, Monday, 21st November) you will demonstrate your commitment to communication over force for building enduring world peace. Most of us will appreciate the sentiment, including in the workplace.
But what of the role of internal communication for HR professionals specifically? The CIPD has published a fascinating factsheet on the subject. For a quick walk through the highlights, please read on.
Why is internal communication important?
– Effective internal communication develops trust within an organisation and significantly impacts employee engagement, organisational culture and productivity. Good employee communication enables employees to stay connected to their workplace, understand their organisation’s purpose and strategy, identify with its values, and develop a sense of belonging by understanding how they contribute to its wider purpose.
– Clear, consistent and regular internal communication is particularly important at times of significant change and uncertainty.
What are the key aspects of effective communication strategies?
– The full support of business leaders is required for a communication strategy to be successful. But the conversation needs to be two-way. Employees need to be given the opportunity to feed their views upwards. Leaders and line managers may need to be trained to encourage two-way communication. Authenticity, accessibility and approachability are key to this end.
– Enterprise social networks – e.g., online discussion forums and interactive intranets – are gradually replacing regular company intranets as sources of information. They have many strengths in terms of promoting employee interaction and a sense of belonging, quickly resolving operational issues (especially across a dispersed workforce), encouraging cross-team and cross-departmental collaboration, making conversations between employees of different levels of seniority possible, giving employees greater voice, and providing valuable insights to HR.
How do you evaluate communication effectiveness?
– You can measure communication effectiveness across your organisation using a regular employee attitude survey. Question whether employees feel fully informed and listened to. Ask if they trust their leaders and whether they consider internal communications regular, consistent and useful.
– You can also measure the success of a specific communication campaign. To do so, you need a clear aim such as awareness of a particular initiative, or a change in perceptions or behaviour.
How to plan a successful communication strategy?
– A good communications plan will cover timing, content, style and channels. Clear, honest and consistent messaging is essential.
– Communications planning should start with the desired outcome. This informs your message and channel choice. Some methods of communication tend to be top-down, such as all-staff presentations or team briefings. Others, such as group meetings or online discussion forums, promote exchange. Be mindful that while an enterprise social network may work well for some discussions, more sensitive or targeted issues should be addressed in face-to-face meetings.
– It’s also important that communication is inclusive. So be aware of the needs of remote and part-time workers. Understand that some employees will be more open during one-to-one conversations rather than group meetings. Be mindful that not all employees are comfortable using social tools.
– In large organisations, internal communications and marketing departments need to work closely with HR to ensure clear, timely and helpful communication around people management and employment issues.
We hope our abridged version of CIPD’s guidelines on internal communication was of interest. Please let us know if there are any other topics that you’d like us to address in future newsletters. We would, as always, be happy to hear from you. And if you’d like some support with your recruitment challenges, we are here to help! Please give us a call on +44 (0)20 7092 3939 or email us at email@example.com to let us know what you need and let us find the perfect match for all your open vacancies.