Room for improvement: making the most of the digital world with your internal comms
Your internal comms likely went fully digital a long time ago. And perhaps, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and remote workplaces, you didn’t really have a choice in the matter, nor the time to think critically about what digital internal comms mean for your employee engagement and message delivery.
Though you may be used to communicating online (who isn’t these days?), internal communicators should be careful not to get complacent with the methodology and technology behind their efforts. Even better, there may be key opportunities that you’re not currently seizing—and that’s where we can come in to help you out.
Ahead, we’ve explored the current trends in digital internal communication and what industry-wide experts have to say on this topic. This year’s Gallagher State of the Sector report identified the “digital experience” as their first key trend for the year, calling out, “it’s time to raise the bar.”
Well, challenge accepted. Read on!
As the digital world evolves at breakneck speed, internal comms needs to keep pace
The options that the digital world presents to us leave a lot of room to get creative: with the use of pretty much every technological platform (work or otherwise) on the rise since last March, there are a myriad of ways that internal communicators can reach their employees. Employee apps, infographics, evolving intranet options, and more are all part of this landscape.
But just because something is new and shiny doesn’t mean it’s best. Microsoft projects like Teams are still beating out emerging tech platforms, according to Gallagher’s survey.
That may be due to the fact that older members of the workforce don’t have the time or desire to learn every new tool on the market. That’s why it’s important to use tools that can reach your employees on channels they’re already using.
Company leadership is stepping up to the communications plate
Increasingly, managers and leaders are wading into the waters of internal communication. Research shows that in times of turbulence, employees appreciate hearing company news directly from the source, which provides that extra reassurance of truthfulness. Team meetings run by line managers are up 20% from 2020, according to Gallagher.
“New, faster, and more direct formats such as internal social networks, videos, management blogs, and live chats require leaders who are authentic, charismatic, and honest,” Staffbase’s experts explain. They encourage managers to become “transformational” leaders by using the internal communications space to connect with their workforce.
For internal communicators, this doesn’t mean decreased value in your role. In fact, it’s quite the opposite—facilitating these connections and conversations is exactly where you can step up and find a place in your evolving workplace.
Here’s a simple place to start. Despite all these new ways to communicate, only half of all employers told Gallagher that they had a channel-specific comms strategy. We have you covered with a template to audit your existing channels and figure out how to branch out.
It’s time to hand the reins to your employees
A lot of this information likely will not come as a surprise—after all, the increase in platforms and methods of communicating digitally has been apparent for a while. But not all organizations are taking advantage of these changes.
When Gallagher asked internal communicators if employees have the option to customize the communications they receive, only a quarter said that some sort of customization was available. So there are more channels through which to receive communication, but no way to figure out which one each employee would engage with best.
There’s an easy way to fix this: ask! Incorporating questions about internal comms preferences into your staff surveying can lead to valuable insights about how your team best receives communication.
Unfortunately, with that approach you may need to make sacrifices based on the data and choose a one-size-fits-most method. With a purpose-built internal comms software, however, you can get specific. With our own solution, Reach, employees can actually choose and set their channel preferences, so that you can seamlessly align with their communication style while overriding it for urgent messages if necessary.
Digital or not—find time to connect on a human level
In many ways, all-digital communication in the workplace has benefitted the modern workforce: perhaps you have experienced fewer distractions and more seamless scheduling. Of course, there are also downsides. Research has shown us that during a hard year that blurred the boundaries between work and personal life, employees wanted to have more hard, emotional conversations with their colleagues.
But Gallagher is quick to point out that our emerging digital platforms don’t always align with that goal. The people receiving your messages shouldn’t be “users,” they should be people.
We love their advice on this: “Think about creating a place for virtual ‘watercooler moments’ too—after all, the art of conversation isn’t dead because we now have to send out a calendar invite to chat. … This is about creating communities, embracing sharing, championing three-way comms, being more human.”
An internal comms software could help you take the next step
It’s not easy to balance the tide of new information, a growing employee base, and keeping up with the trends all on your own—we know that. As we mentioned earlier, a dedicated software tool may help you organize your internal comms efforts and engage employees. Not only that, it could help you measure your efforts to learn and grow long-term.
“Ultimately, Reach has allowed us to deliver the right communications to the right people, at the right time, on the right channels. We’re seeing improved communications performance, compliance, and employee behaviors as a result.”
– Kristofer Stamp, Communications Manager, OE Federal Credit Union
How have you changed your internal comms tactics to adapt to the digital workplace, one year in? We want to hear from you—tag us on social media on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and join the conversation.