By Kaitlin Gwynn
How many times have we heard the cliché, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”? Yet in a culture obsessed with appearances, we often ignore the expression and continue to work toward being picture perfect on the outside.
The same can be said of many companies. We spend so much time tailoring, tweaking and specializing messages for external audiences that we often forget the value of communicating to our own employees. Employees are the mouths and faces of our business, so it is essential to provide them with clear, consistent and comprehensive information.
Internal communications can be defined as the specialization of messages toward employees to create transparency within an organization. Why is it important? A business has many stakeholders, including employees. Internal communications have the ability to breed employee confidence, cooperation and retention. Additionally, they are a key factor for maintaining employee engagement – one of the top eight contributors to workplace success, according to the Harvard Business Review. Strengthening your internal communications is an investment in your business.
So, how should your company address internal communications? While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, there are some key concepts that every company can apply:
Tailor internal communications to suit the needs of your employees.
Find out how your employees prefer to be reached. Then, create an internal communications plan based on their preferences and your business’s resources. There are endless channels for getting your message across to different types of employees: newsletters, the company intranet, information sessions, emails – the list goes on.
Let your employees hear the news before it hits the news.
Employees must be proactively informed of corporate initiatives, new developments and even bad news so they are prepared to respond if the information becomes public. The media has a strong influence on public opinion. Your employees should be the first to receive company press releases, even if the information is sensitive. Notifying them when your business is mentioned in the media is equally important.
Have the leaders in your company lead the conversation.
Leadership engagement is crucial to the credibility of your communication. Employees want to know that management cares and is dedicated to the work. Significant value is created when leaders communicate face-to-face with their employees.
Maintain your messages and be consistent.
Remember the value of repeated messaging for retention. Don’t mix your messages. Each communication channel should carry identical information at the same time. There are many scheduling programs online that can help you manage your communication tools.
Ask for feedback and use it!
Encourage your employees to have a voice. A goal of any internal communications plan should be to maintain a positive, ongoing conversation between your organization and its employees. Find out what is working and what isn’t, and use that feedback to refine your strategy. Doing so will improve morale and make your employees more knowledgeable and enthusiastic about your company.
Kaitlin Gwynn works in the Marketing and Communications Department at Gainesville Regional Utilities. She has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Florida and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in management. Gwynn can be reached at Gwynnk1@gru.com.