Step-by-step guide: Internal communication strategy for the most engaged workforce – part I
- Posted by: Ali Ayaz
- Category: Recruitment
STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE: INTERNAL COMMUNICATION STRATEGY FOR THE MOST ENGAGED WORKFORCE – PART I
Internal communication is the focus of employer brand management with respect to employee satisfaction and retention. It helps to ensure that all employees are aware of the company’s values, goals, and mission. Additionally, it helps to foster a sense of community and collaboration within the organization. An effective internal communication strategy can have a positive impact on employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention.
The success or failure of an internal communication strategy can have a significant impact on the company. If the strategy is effective, employees will be more willing to adapt to changing goals and requirements. On the other hand, with an ineffective strategy, we may encounter resistance and fear from employees.
Internal communications in the context of employer branding refers to the process of effectively communicating & engaging with your employees. It mostly involves the following, but is not limited to them.
- Production & delivery of messages and campaigns on behalf of management
- Facilitation of open communication and dialogue between employees & management
- Developing the communication skills of all members of the organization to improve overall engagement and job satisfaction.
The scope and responsibilities of internal communications can vary depending on the specific organization and the individual in charge of the function. Some definitions and scope may include how teams interact with each other. However, we will be defining the borders of communication from the employer organization to employees. A successful internal communication employer-branded strategy will ultimately result in better team interaction aligned with the goals of the employer.
MUSTS IN INTERNAL COMMUNICATION STRATEGY
Employer organizations need an internal communications strategy to be consistent, coherent and connected in all activities related to their employees. Ensuring such will create a holistic image of the employer’s attractiveness. This will result in the employees being more engaged and more in tune with the company culture. With a perfect strategy defined by internal communication goals, the organization will have the overall structure to know “what, whom, when & where” to communicate. The “how” part of this process is obvious: In line with the EVP.
All the tactics we use to communicate with employees and/or candidates should provide “reasons to believe” in the EVP. Our internal communication strategies should have clear goals that are consistently followed to ensure the following.
- All employees understand the company’s overall vision, specific business goals, and their individual roles in achieving them.
- Every communication is aligned with specific business goals.
- Every activity leads to meaningful action and change.
- These touchpoints can help to create a cohesive and effective internal communication strategy that promotes engagement and alignment within the organization.
However, the internal communications needs of a business can vary depending on the composition of its workforce. For instance, organizations with mostly remote employees may have to adopt different communication strategies than those with mostly on-site workers. This is why we will delve into the details of how to effectively implement an internal communication strategy template. We will examine the characteristics and goals of a successful strategy and provide guidance on the key considerations and best practices to keep in mind when implementing communication plans.
1- FORGE THE TEAM
In developing an effective internal communication strategy, it is important to establish methods for evaluating the team responsible for implementing the strategy. This may involve tracking metrics and soliciting feedback from the target audience to adapt and refine the message as needed. It is also crucial to consider the composition of the team to provide a diverse range of perspectives and expertise. There should be representation from various departments and levels within the organization.
There is often debate regarding which department within the organization should manage internal communication efforts. These options include human resources, public relations, and marketing. However, it is important to recognize that internal communication will occur regardless of the department responsible. Ultimately, the priority should be on ensuring that the strategy is effective in achieving its goals and adding value to the business. We can achieve by focusing on the internal communication strategy and action plan, rather than the teams within the organization.
2- ANALYZE THE STATUS QUO
Gathering data for internal communication strategies can be a complex and time-consuming process. However, it is essential for ensuring that the organization’s messaging is effective and resonates with its employees. Hiring a consultant for internal audits can bring a fresh and unbiased perspective, as well as specialized knowledge and expertise, to this process. A consultant can help to identify areas for improvement and make recommendations for change, ultimately improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the organization’s internal communication efforts. Additionally, the expertise and professionalism of a consultant can help to prevent inappropriate questions and answers, which could negatively affect the working atmosphere.
Before creating an internal communication plan, it is important to understand the current state of communication within the organization. To assess the status quo, consider taking the following steps.
2A- Solicit input from employees
Seek out the thoughts and opinions of employees on the current state of internal communication in the organization through surveys, focus groups, or individual interviews. The difference in answers will even help with segmenting our audience. In huge organizations, segmentation would be key for “sincere” communications, as communication expectations differ depending on people’s backgrounds.
2B- Perform a communication assessment
Examine the various channels and methods of communication currently being used within the organization, including how frequently they are utilized, how effective they are, and any obstacles or bottlenecks that may exist.
2C- Identify strengths and weaknesses
Determine which aspects of the organization’s internal communication are working well and which could be improved upon.
2D- Determine current communication objectives
Understand what the organization hopes to achieve with its internal communication efforts and how well it is meeting these goals.
2E- Benchmark competitors
Research the internal communication strategies of other organizations in the industry to identify effective practices and potential areas of differentiation.
By completing these steps, we can gain a comprehensive understanding of the current state of internal communication in our organization and identify areas of improvement. Later, we use this information to create an effective internal communication plan.
3- DETERMINE THE GOALS
It is important to have a clear understanding of where we want our internal communication efforts to go and to determine what resources are needed to reach our goals. One potential objective of internal communication is to increase employee engagement and improve attendance and performance. Alternatively, we may want to use internal communication to motivate and influence the behavior of our team.
The only goal that is definitely on the list should be to help realize the EVP within a specific timeframe. In other words, the end results of the strategy should make our value proposition more believable for the audience. This might sound intangible on the surface, however, there are many tangible ways to measure the success of the strategy: Employee Feedback.
Utilizing feedback from employees provides concrete data on the most engaging timing, channel, and message. Allowing employees to share their thoughts and opinions can increase their comfort level and engagement in the workplace. It allows employees to influence decisions that affect their work, provides ideas for innovation and improvement, and is a good indicator of overall employee engagement and productivity.
To effectively track the progress of our company, it is important to measure as many variables and pieces of data as possible. The specific metrics we choose to track will depend on the objectives we have set for our organization, such as open rates, click-through rates or registrations. By regularly gathering and analyzing this data, we can gain insights into the performance and effectiveness of our business and make informed decisions about where to focus our efforts. Remember to choose metrics that are relevant to our EVP.
4- DEFINE KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPI)
By analyzing the data collected, we can determine the most effective content to create and the best strategies for engaging our employees. By monitoring the success of various types of content in different situations, we can segment our internal audience and customize our content to better meet their needs.
4A- Devices and platforms
In the hybrid workspaces that make up most of the business world, just an email could be read in various manners. And the choices employees make or do not make in keeping updated. Choices to keep track of employer communications could bring insight into the perspective of an employee, such as…
- Hardware: Desktop, laptop, phone, tablet, etc.
- Operating System: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, etc.
- Ownership: Personal or corporate devices
- Software: Outlook, Gmail, Webmail, other apps, etc.
4B- Open rates
An engaged workforce wants to know what the employer has to say and would like to be most informed. On the other hand, low open rates for our communications show either there is a problem with how we are communicating the content, or how we used to communicate the content. For the latter, we might have burnt out our recipients because of the following reasons.
- There has been an influx of communications, and they do not attract attention anymore.
- Historically, there have been plenty of communications, but the employer organization did not follow up on them by taking visible action. Thus, messaging in all communications started sounding less credible.
- Prior communications had inadequate design and/or unclear messaging, leading to less credibility.
- The messaging was not strategized in line with EVP, or there was no EVP, which made everything feel disconnected and did not create an overall employer image in minds.
- Employer organization itself or the department/person sending out the communications are not found to be engaging.
In this step, we will analyze what had worked in the past and carry them over, and learn from the actions which did not bring sufficient results. For the new messaging we plan on communicating in line with the EVP, click here to see how to garner the attention of our employees the most efficiently.
4C- Click-Through Rates
By analyzing our link clicks, we can gauge how effectively we are engaging our audience. If we notice a low click-through rate, it may indicate that the content we are sharing is not relevant to them. In this case, it may be necessary to alter our approach and try to identify other preferences among our target audience. If this is the case; check the messaging, platform, and timing if they are appropriate for all our segmentations.
4D- Feedback and Responses Received
Surveying employees is the most reliable and sincere method to understand what engages them within the organization. In addition to measuring the quantitative answers, there can be even more valuable data such as:
- Participation rates
- Semantic analysis of open-ended questions and their answer rates
- Consistency in the answers of individuals
5- SEGMENT THE AUDIENCE
Our goal is to effectively target our internal audience so that our messaging is tailored to the specific needs of everyone and is understood by all employees. We may consider the following factors for efficient segmentation:
- The location of employees (e.g., on-site or sites vs. remote)
- The tenure of employees (e.g., new hires vs. long-term employees)
- The age and demographics of employees
- The roles and departments of employees (e.g. IT vs. marketing, Agile. vs traditional)
To ensure clear internal communication, consider diverse language preferences and needs. Our messages should be understood by everyone as we had intended. We can follow the steps below to realize our intentions.
- Consult subject matter experts to assess the project’s feasibility and effectiveness. Make sure the communication plan meets the needs of our diverse workforce. For instance, consult IT team members before sending a mass email to the whole department.
- Engage key stakeholder teams to align messaging with their needs and interests. These individuals are most affected by organizational decisions.
- Involve local representatives from different locations for fresh ideas and valuable insights. They can help tailor the plan to fit various work environments.
- Seek senior leader endorsement to validate efforts, encourage executive involvement, and signal communication importance to the rest of the organization.
6- DEFINE THE MESSAGE(S)
When crafting our internal communications strategy, the message should be clear, concise, and relevant to our employees. To ensure that the story we are trying to tell will engage our employees, consider the following points:
- Our goal: Is it to convey information or inspire action?
- What’s in it for them? What will employees gain by knowing or acting on the information?
- What do they need to know before taking action?
To help us define our message, start with a summary of the crucial points we are conveying. This will provide a clear and concise overview of our strategy and goals. Once we have a solid foundation, we can start revising details depending on the employee segmentation.
When thinking about what message we want to convey, it’s important to keep in mind that internal communications should be tailored to the specific needs of our employees. By focusing on what they will gain by knowing or acting on the information, we can make sure the message is relevant to them. Additionally, by providing the necessary information before asking for action, we can help them make informed decisions.
With our message tailored to the needs of employees, it is time to bring it to life through channel selection. In the next part, we will examine the tactics that will most effectively deliver our plan and meet our organization’s objectives. Join us as we guide you in choosing the right channels that not only communicate with your workforce but also engage them for maximum results.
In conclusion, a well-designed internal communication strategy is critical for the success of any organization, and it can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. By forging a team, analyzing the status quo, determining the goals, defining key performance indicators, segmenting the audience, and defining the messages, we can create a cohesive and effective internal communication plan that promotes engagement and alignment within the organization.
In part two of this guide, we examine the tactics that will most effectively deliver our plan and meet our organization’s objectives. By implementing these strategies, we can ensure that our employees are informed, engaged, and aligned with our organization’s goals and values.
To learn more, you can join a free week session of Employer Brand Academy certificate courses here or you can download my free ebook creating an authentic employer brand here.
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