Internal Communications is Key To Success
Companies positioning themselves as industry leaders seek to keep up with best practices and trends when it comes to their products, customer service, marketing and many other areas. Business practices being implemented by your peers and competitors have long been benchmarks that successful companies measure themselves by. However, internal communications is often pretty far down the priority list. We rarely ask how our peers are communicating with their employees. We tend to think that’s a personal matter, one that is unique to the needs of our own organization.
According to Entrepreneur magazine, internal communication is a key success factor for nearly 79 percent of companies. If communication isn’t smoothly flowing between management and employees, you’re missing an “important strategic component in your business’ growth.” Entrepreneur refers to internal communications as the “lifeblood of your business.” So, how do you go about improving it? Pay attention to trends and best practices. Consider three trends compiled by well-known internal communications firm Tribe, and how your company intranet can help ensure you are keeping up with best practices.
Bring Vision and Values to Life
Many companies know the benefits of aligning employees with the company’s vision. An inspiring vision and strong values are worthless without employee buy-in. Effective communication is the glue that unites employees, keeps them engaged and working toward a common goal. However, employee alignment is easier said than done. In fact, when employees understand their role in the company’s vision, 91 percent will work toward its success. However, when that understanding is lacking, only 23 percent will actively contribute to the company’s vision, according to “The Cost of Poor Internal Communications 2014.” Missing the mark when it comes to aligning employees with the company vision and values not only affects business growth, but can also result in lack of accountability, indifference to customers, poor collaboration, missed innovations and resentment among employees.
How can a strategically-designed intranet help bring your vision and values to life? Effective communication is more than just managers relaying information to lower level employees. It is about creating an engaging environment that encourages open communication between peers and employee levels within the organization. A social intranet does just that. Just as your external website is probably your key marketing tool, your intranet should be your primary internal marketing tool. Use taglines, your motto, images and other visuals to constantly emphasize the company’s vision and values. Create a senior management blog or discussion forum that opens the lines of communication and gives employees a safe place to express themselves, relate success stories or voice concerns. Use news feeds to remind employees of common goals. Recognize team and individual milestones. What message does your intranet send? Does it position the company as an advocate for its staff? Does it build respect and trust for executive leadership? Getting employees to buy-in to company vision and values requires putting a face on the company instead of it only being a cold entity that issues a paycheck. Does your intranet give management a human face?
Reach Non-desk Employees
Tribe reports that among its broad client base, a second top trend is that companies are looking for ways to reach their non-desk employees. This important group is hands-on with customers every day. They are your biggest ambassadors. Their buy-in to company values and vision is critical to the internal and external reputation of the organization. Eighty-four percent of non-desk workers say they don’t get enough information from top management, according to a survey reported on by Fortune magazine. Additionally, 75 percent said their employers are not telling them enough about policies and goals, despite the fact that 74 percent said “consistent” messages from senior management are important to them.
Tribe CEO Elizabeth Cogsworth Baskin says lessons can be learned from UPS, a company that turned internal communication into an “art form.” What stands out? Baskin says “supervisors talk to their teams, but the company also has a great intranet site.” A mobile intranet is the key to bridging the gap between in-house employees and those that work away from a desktop computer. In its report, Tribe says a mobile intranet is the best option to give “non-desk employees access to everything their office counterparts get in terms of internal communications.” The firm admits this option can be cost and time-consuming. However, cloud-based solutions are changing that. Cloud-based intranet solutions allow companies to easily and quickly set up a mobile intranet that is fully accessible via mobile devices. Non-desk employees have complete access to all the tools, files and communication mediums as in-house employees. User management and site security tools allow you to customize the intranet for different employee groups, giving them access to data that is applicable to them. Instead of checking email, group texts, social media and other forms of communication, your workers in the field can find everything they need in one central location.
Attract and Retain Millennial Talent
The last internal communication trend noted by Tribe is the focus on attracting and retaining millennial talent. Managers are now understanding the importance of adapting workplace communication to reach the next generation of talent. After all, one in three workers in the U.S. is a millennial, making them the largest generation currently in the workforce. In addition to one in five millennials exclusively accessing the internet via their mobile device, consider these statistics gathered by the American Press Institute.
- 88 percent get their news from Facebook.
- 57 percent check the news on Facebook at least once per day and 44 percent check it several times per day.
- 7 in 10 Facebook users regularly click on or watch news stories posted by others.
- 42 percent “like” news stories and another 34 percent comment on them.
- 76 percent of Facebook millennial users say their main reason for using the social network is to see what their friends are talking about.
What do social media trends have to do with your company’s intranet? The statistics provide insight into the communication styles of the millennial workforce. They want mobile access. They are interested in what their peers are doing. They prefer to get news via a social medium. Use these preferences to your advantage by creating a social intranet to engage millennial workers. Instead of simply dispensing information in a top-down manner, create an environment of sharing, discussion and feedback. A social platform takes information sharing to the next level. The American Press research also found that millennials like social media because of the varying opinions and points of view. This large segment of your workforce wants to discuss policy, company vision and values. Improve internal communications and create an environment where millennials thrive.
A formidable company is one with a strong workforce. When employees are engaged in where the company is going and how their job plays a role in that, the result is a workforce that is pulling in the same direction. Remember playing tug-of-war in elementary school? The winning team didn’t necessarily have the strongest players. It had players that were united and worked together. Collectively, they were winners. Think of your intranet as the rope that links everyone together. It connects workers together and provides the uniting force that leads to successful internal communication.