By Amelia Bell, APR
Employees are your organization’s most valuable asset; they are your strongest advocates and often the most trusted spokespeople. As such, communicating effectively with employees is one of the most important things an organization needs to do. There are a variety of ways to help employees understand the company’s mission and how their work contributes to the company’s success. No matter your industry or profession, here are a few ways to ensure you are communicating effectively with employees.
Give them information they want in the way they want it. Talk to employees and find out what is important to them. Whether your employees need a printed newsletter, a regularly updated intranet, monthly meetings or frequent emails, make sure you are reaching your employees where they want to be reached. A hybrid approach might be necessary. For example, all employees may not have regular computer access, so a printed newsletter might be used in conjunction with online content to reach the most people.
Tailor the content for your employees. Make content personal and easy to read. Include pictures and quotes—mix business with just-for-fun information. Provide updates on current initiatives, introduce new employees, recognize work teams or include a calendar of events. If you have a meeting or event, film it, take pictures and interview attendees. Make this information available so employees who couldn’t attend the event won’t miss out. Don’t be afraid to repeat the same message using different communications channels, but be sure you are talking about what matters to them.
Work with other departments. Coordinate content with the departments that “own” the information. For example, benefits and training messages should be coordinated with human resources. You don’t want to surprise project leaders with a story in your company newsletter or a video on the intranet if they weren’t consulted.
Don’t forget face-to-face communication. Make management accessible. Providing regular opportunities for employees to interact with executives is a great way to engage employees in company-wide communications. Have the CEO visit work sites. Invite employees to attend monthly breakfast or lunch meetings with the boss. Schedule regular meetings with the CEO and managers so managers know what information needs to be shared with their direct reports. A combination of formal and informal opportunities for interaction allows employees to hear important information directly from the CEO and allows them to ask questions.
Finally, always remember to share news with your employees first so there are no surprises. Whatever method you choose, make sure you communicate with your employees on a regular basis and continuously ask them for suggestions for improvement.
Amelia Bell, APR, a senior marketing and communications specialist for Gainesville Regional Utilities, has worked incorporate and internal communications for more than eight years. She serves as vice president for the Gainesville Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association.