Communicating with an entire company is a challenge whether you have five employees or thousands. From communicating policy change to letting everyone know there is leftover food from the board meeting, getting the message to the masses is never easy. Printed newsletters and memos get lost in the paper shuffle. “All staff” e-mails are often put off or viewed as a work interruption. At the heart of effective communication is value. Whether you are communicating with your staff or your customers, they must view what you are telling them as valuable. What’s the solution? Create an intranet that features news worth reading, content that is perceived as valuable. Here’s how.
Create a News Hub
An intranet provides one location for employees to find the files they need, communicate with their fellow workers, set up group projects, read employee profiles, manage calendars and much more. However, your intranet should also be viewed as the news hub of the organization. Employees expect to find current news on the homepage. What is happening within the organization right now? However, create a news center where all news is stored. Instead of being bombarded with announcements and updates via e-mail, employees can go to the news center at their leisure and catch up. When employees return from vacation, they know exactly where to go to catch up on what’s happened while they were out. When new employees are hired, they can take in all the recent happenings around the office.
Allow for numerous filters, not just news dates. Employees may try to find a news story they saw on the homepage, but can’t recall the date. Offer search options by topic, department, author or regional office. Think about offering the “most popular”, “most shared” or “highest rated” categories, using terms employees are familiar with in the social world.
Encourage user-generated news within your hub. User-generated content drives the social community created by today’s intranet. It’s where the value comes from. Interesting topics from peers are perceived as valuable and are likely to keep readers coming back for more. However, user-generated content can’t overshadow the official content coming from HR or the President’s office. Be careful not to separate the two, sending the message that user-generated content is less important. Instead, use your design to categorize content. For example, you could use color codes to distinguish “official” news.
Make it Fun
When you know you have a boring topic, such as “What’s New in This Year’s Employee Handbook,” think of ways to make reading the article fun. Promote a trivia contest full of little known facts found in the handbook. Conduct a poll about employee satisfaction and reveal the results with the article about the handbook changes. Consider additional formats. Visual aids, photos or an introductory video message from the President will add value to the news item. Include employee features or contests. For example, reward the first five people who read the news item, and share it or comment on it.
Be sure your news items are readable. According to the International Association of Business Communicators, (IABC) only 21 percent of communication professionals within average performing organizations say they keep their language simple and jargon-free compared with 50 percent that uses simple, jargon-free language within high-performing organizations. Employees should be able to easily skim an article for important information, not wade through unfamiliar terms. Make good use of subheadings, bullet points, and avoid clichés and jargon. Whether your staff is well-educated or not, keep your writing to a seventh grade reading level or lower. Don’t use unfamiliar abbreviations or acronyms. Lastly, use the active voice.
The best way to know if your news strategy is successful is to measure it. IABC research shows that 60 percent of communicators do not measure the success of their internal communication strategy. Why not? Among the reasons found were: I don’t know how; I don’t have time; My boss doesn’t understand the value, and I know what the measurements would show. Don’t fall prey to these traps. Metrics are the only sure way to know what’s being read, how often and by whom. Start by looking at unique user logins to measure participation. Analyze the peak times to know when the majority of employees are reading your news. This will allow you to post your announcements at a time when they will get the most attention. Look at how many unique visitors viewed a certain article and how long they stayed on that page. Measuring articles that are shared the most or read the most will give you some insight into what your employees want to read. Do they view videos or click-through to other links? Here are six main areas of focus when measuring the effectiveness of your news cycle.
- Readership: Did the majority of employees read it?
- Readability: Use an online readability test to measure your writing.
- Engagement: Did the article stimulate comments, debate or discussion among your staff?
- Satisfaction: Did employees rate the article? Do you have a rating mechanism in place?
- Relevancy: Did the article encourage the action you wanted the reader to take? Were they supposed to feel, think or do something specific?
- Bouncing: Did employees click back within five seconds of clicking on the article?
Get Employees Involved
“News” is a very static term. It’s viewed as a very one-sided product, something to read and forget later. However, social networks have changed that traditional view. In fact, research reveals that 63 percent of Facebook and Twitter users get their news from social networks, often commenting and passing the articles along to their followers. Fifty percent of millennials, adults between 18 and 34, said their social network site is “the most important” or “an important” way to get their news. Take advantage of this trend by turning the cold dissemination of news into a dynamic engine that drives employee conversation.
While the term “social intranet” may conjure up images of employees chatting it up or sharing pictures of their recent vacation, this is far from what a social intranet actually does for internal communication. In short, it gets employees involved. It’s a platform that takes advantage of popular social applications and adapts them for a business environment. The familiarity and transparency that result provide an engaging environment where employees feel like a member of a community, not a user of a software application.
The effectiveness of this model can be seen by popular news organizations. MSNBC, CNN, Fox News and most local stations have their own social media accounts, and have the functionality in place for readers to share, like and comment on articles. Pew researchers call social media a “pathway to the news.” Think of the social areas of your intranet has “pathways” to the news you want employees to read. Get them involved in discussions with contests, polls, employee recognition or employee guest blogs. Encourage them to feature links to news stories within their discussions, blog posts or individual news feeds. Involvement is key.
In short, don’t leave it to chance that your employees will read your news. Plan an effective strategy that engages them and helps them see value. A social intranet provides the perfect platform to create a news hub, make it fun, measure effectiveness and get employees involved. MyHub Intranet Solutions Limited provides a cloud-based, social intranet platform that accomplishes just that. Contact us to take advantage or sign up for a Free Trial.