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It’s Time to Rethink Your Internal Communications Programme

Only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. That’s according to the 2023 Global Human Capital Trends report from Deloitte, which states that in a world where workers are seeking deeper meaning in their work, organisations must strive to create a greater human connection with their staff.

That’s why internal communication is taking on an even more critical role within organisations: the Internal Communicator Index from FirstUp, which surveyed over 400 internal communicators, found that three out of four respondents are spending more on employee engagement than they were two years ago.

Yet while the survey highlighted company email and email newsletters as the most common communication channels used, nearly half of respondents (46%) said that only a small percentage of employees actually read email and engage with content.

Here in Ireland, research by PR360 found that while 87% of employees say it’s important that workers have a sense of what’s happening at the company, 38% have heard a news story about their employer in the media before it was communicated internally at least once before — which has led to one in five questioning their future at the company.

If your organisation is struggling to engage employees, it could be time to rethink your internal communications strategy. 

FirstUp defines internal communications as “keeping employees connected and informed and creating a shared understanding of company goals, values and guidelines.” But there’s more to internal communications than newsletters and noticeboards.

Here Are Five Ways You Can Improve Your Internal Communications:
1. Turn employees into brand advocates

Employees value workplace authenticity — and what’s more authentic than employee-created content. Encourage your staff to share their thoughts and ideas with co-workers, either by contributing to the company blog, recording day-in-the-life videos or taking over the company’s social channels.

2. Use engaging formats

The average attention span is now roughly 8 seconds so don’t be afraid to get creative if you want to capture the interest of your employees. Consider formats such as magazines, videos, GIFs, podcasts and interactive slide decks — the type of content that your target audience typically engages with when they’re not at work. Take Trader Joe’s, for example. The American grocery chain’s Inside Trader Joe’s podcast was initially intended to be just five episodes when it launched in 2018, with titles such as “Informative and Seriously Not Too Serious” and “It’s About Values” but has since evolved into something that customers love as much as its employees do.

3. Mirror internally what you do externally

A strong employer brand will help your organisation attract and recruit better candidates but having a top-notch website, super-cool campaigns and a friendly tone-of-voice are all for nothing if they don’t align with what you’re communicating internally. If you want your employees to live and breathe your external brand, your internal communications need to reflect that look and feel. 

4. Engage through gamification

Introducing game-based activities that build team collaboration, test staff knowledge or enhance the employee experience is a great way to improve engagement. At Salesforce, Trailhead is a gamified learning experience platform used by employees and customers alike, with assessments that demonstrate skills and expertise and badges that illustrate progress. Meanwhile, McDonald’s employees earn stars to be worn on their uniforms to reflect their progress through the company’s internal training scheme across quality, service, cleanliness, and operational excellence.

5. Utilise social tools

Given that the average worker receives 121 emails per day, internal communications rarely make it to the top of the stack, which means that your message will likely go ignored. Try tools such as Slack, Yammer and Chatter to keep employees in the loop on everything from company announcements and social events to sharing relevant news and updates. 

Poor communication is a leading cause of employee turnover, according to a Watson Wyatt study. Meanwhile, Gallup research found that engaged teams have lower turnover, 21% greater profitability and 17% higher productivity. But while it’s in your best interest to ensure that you are keeping employees informed, the ‘how’ is as important as the ‘what’ — a boring plain-text mass email just won’t cut it. Today’s digital-savvy workers increasingly consume content through visuals and video so if your organisation wants to improve engagement, think outside the box and embrace a more creative approach to internal comms. 

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