Every business that has come through the hard lockdown has learnt a very important truth: communicating internally is as important, if not more vital to survival, than communicating externally.
Any organisation is only as good as its people. We have all heard it, but what does it mean? Good times take care of themselves, but tough times - such as a global pandemic - bring a magnifying glass to the cracks in any organisation.
Certainly, in our network, the businesses that communicated fast and well with their employees were more resilient during the hardest parts of the lockdown. They addressed the fear of job losses and economic turmoil head on. They listened to their staff. They engaged. This culture made sure that when people were forced to work remotely, the landing wasn’t as hard as those that had not spent much time thinking about communicating with their staff.
As businesses look ahead - albeit with a degree of uncertainty about a potential second wave of the virus - investing in a solid internal communications strategy would do wonders for their resilience and staff retention, two vital ingredients to recover from a knock as large as Covid-19.
Invest in employee experience
An employee’s experience involves everything they encounter at their place of work, from the company culture, to the work environment, to the tools they use, all the way through to skills training and career prospects. In order to build an authentic employee experience beyond merely a notice board of important meetings or events, a company needs to tactfully merge classic HR functions such as onboarding, upskilling and job notices, with company news and letters from the CEO.
This doesn’t mean everyone’s devices should be spammed all the time! Much like we craft external communication strategies for specific audiences for specific campaigns, a company should be asking how they personalise their internal communications, so that the right message reaches the intended audience.
Have companies considered that their employees are people just like their customers? One needs to tell compelling stories in order to get engagement, and this means that a thoroughly planned internal communications strategy will include video, infographics, podcasts, emails and texts, among more. People are busy - just because the communication is flagged “business”, it still needs to fight for attention. Every business will have a mix of generations that consume their media in different ways.
The company's values should underpin everything - there is no use having a great values board in the lobby without it resonating with the workforce. How are companies profiling or celebrating staff that embody these values? How does the business communicate in relation to these values? Remember, it is a business’s values that will steer and guide it out of crises, and enable it to soar in the good times.
There is little point in spending the greatest energy possible on crafting highly strategic and impactful communications for your customers and forgetting about your employees. Of course the customers need the investment, but your staff are the engine and the drivers of your business. If they don’t show up, you risk breaking trust with broken promises to your customers.
A solid internal communications plan is one of the best investments a company can make, especially when it’s time to rebound from a crisis and you need all hands on deck. If you’d like to brainstorm a few ideas, give us a call: it is incredibly exciting what businesses are doing, and which platforms they are using, to take their self-talk to the next level.