Internal communication is now a part of core HR – the same as payroll, taxes or care management, industry analysts including HR visionary Josh Bersin say. The topic of internal communications cannot be avoided anymore. Therefore, the internal communications process in any company should be conducted in a systemic way.
This article is inspired by our clients: the best examples of effective internal communication in small- and medium-sized companies who operate in either manufacturing, logistics or retail. Those are industries where the majority of the workforce is deskless, making employee communication particularly difficult. Naturally, many businesses outside those industries struggle with internal communications, too, and it becomes even more difficult if you combine deskless with remote employees.
All of our clients have significantly improved the way their company communicates during their use of GuavaHR and are content with their results. However, some of them are performing better than the others – and we wanted to know, why.
In this article, we’ll guide you into the learnings of the case studies with those best-performing clients. Thorough interviews were conducted with the aim of understanding what they were doing differently from the others. All that to help you take your internal communications strategy to the next level!
Why Should Internal Communication Be Improved?
Before we jump in, let’s get on the same page. Why should internal communication be improved in the first place? Who does it benefit, and how?
Imagine any relationship, such as the one people have with their partner: if you have great communication in place with that person, you can build anything on top of that. It’s the same with internal communication in a company. Having meaningful conversations leads to better relationships. Better anything. Communication is like a bridge via which you can deliver any goods you need.
Effective internal communication is the prerequisite for everything, therefore, improving internal communications matters.
What Goals Should Your Internal Communication Strategy Have?
To make something better, you must measure it first. This article will focus on three key metrics for effective communication we use in GuavaHR. Those are employee or user adoption, activeness and contribution. Our average adoption and activeness during the measured period were both 83% – which is great -, but among our high performing clients, both of the averages were as high as 96%. In contribution, the scores were 33% and 63%, respectively.
Let’s sum the three terms up shortly.
Adoption measures the percentage of all employees who have signed up for our internal communication and HR processes app GuavaHR. As employee apps aren’t usually mandatory, we need to measure adoption.
Activeness measures the consumers of the content published via our app GuavaHR: communications, e-learning materials, forms etc.
Contribution shows the ones who are not just consuming, but also creating content and using the communication tools themselves: commenting, voting, posting and creating events, for example.
Those metrics aren’t GuavaHR-specific: you can measure success in those three in any type of internal communication tool. With some tools, such as a notice board or internal TV, it’s just more difficult and less precise. But as they say – the errors you make using inadequate data are much smaller than those using no data at all. So give your best to measure!
So we asked our best-performing clients what they were doing to improve internal communications in order to boost those three metrics and which internal communication strategy had brought the best results. Here’s what we learned.
Step 1: Improve Internal Communication by Boosting Adoption
As explained before, adoption measures the percentage of all employees who have signed up for our internal communication and HR processes app GuavaHR. What did the interviews tell us?
1: Handle Internal Communications as if They Were Health & Safety
Whenever a new employee joins a company, they often have to go through a checklist of health- and safety-related tasks – or else, they are not permitted to start their job. It makes sense because it’s crucial to be safe: for the employee, for the employer, for the client. But why do we assume we should do internal communications any differently?
That was one of our key discoveries: every single one of the best-performing clients had a systematic approach to corporate communications with their new employees. They took time to explain why they are doing internal communications at all, why is it needed, how are they doing it, what is the employee’s role in it, how to use their systems – and so on. They had a systemic approach: just as with health and safety.
2: Make Internal Communication Channels Semi-Mandatory
Many HR managers believe that in order to have successful open communication, participating in it should be 100% voluntary. However, our best-performing clients don’t necessarily agree with that. Furthermore: according to satisfaction surveys, this has boosted their employees’ satisfaction, too.
Making your current internal communication tools at least partially mandatory is a signal of its importance for the company. Effective communication isn’t a nice to have feature – it’s part of the core.
Our best-performing clients give some great examples of the means to achieve that. First, you could officialise the channels by including them in the employment contract. It’s not legally binding but makes it more official. Another way is to include the two way communication channel in your ISO or other internal processes so it becomes difficult or impossible to avoid.
Want your adoption to skyrocket? Draw a prize among your employees – and host the raffle in the employee app. Or hand our discount deals for your own services or products via your selected channels only. One of our clients invited their employees to sign up for a company discount card for the local gas station… and asked the form to be submitted via GuavaHR. They got 20 employees to adopt the app who had been impossible to reach before.
Naturally, this step is much easier with new employees, as they are more thirsty for new information. Also, they have no deep-rooted experience with how something has been previously done and aren’t dreading to let the old ways go.
Step 2: Improve Internal Communication by Boosting Activeness
Now that your adoption is doing better and people have come on board, we can get on to improving their activeness. As explained previously, activeness measures the consumers of the content published via our app GuavaHR: communications, e-learning materials, forms etc.
1: If You Fail to Plan, You are Planning to Fail
Relationship building requires consistency. Ghosting your employees is bad, demonstrates lacking communication skills and does harm employee morale. To build productive bonds with your entire team that can be put to use in everyday life as well as in case of a crisis, scheduled communication must be made a part of the journey to improve communications.
You don’t need to plan everything out in detail for the next 6 months. But do have planned activities for the next 30 days: think out what you want to do every week. For example, if you previously sent out a newsletter every two weeks, spread the information out so you could share or post something every other day. Make it a habit for your employees to receive news.
However, you don’t want to overwhelm your employees with information – or it will be disregarded. But consistency and even distribution from the management’s side are important in order to give employees’ a good example and help them expand their own communication skills, too. Model ideal behaviour, so they develop trust and can reciprocate later when they feel confident enough to become contributors.
2: Create a Habit
Consistency and even distribution make up the technical side of forming the habit. However, habits – up to some degree – will also be formed naturally when the content of the apps or other communication tools is perceived as important or interesting.
The interviews with our best-performing clients showed us that there’s nothing more important for them than a post from their CEO. Should activeness go down, a post from the CEO helps to boost it and recreates the habit. Our activeness data backs that up, too.
But everything else that keeps them in the loop of how the company is doing is great, too, and should be shared regularly: weekly department updates from sales or finances, customer feedback, replies to info requests submitted by employees, and so on.
Another way to create a habit is to have HR direct any sort of information request to your main channel. This way, more employees can benefit from the reply, strengthening the habit once more – whenever a new piece of information is shared, they go to check what it is, as it may be relevant to them.
And last but not least: we know it’s tempting to start communicating by asking important stuff for the company (this we’ll talk more about in the contribution section). However, to start a habit, go with employee needs first.
3: Don’t Do Everything Yourself
When you have just started out with your internal communication, it’s mostly one way communication and top down communication at first. Contribution, as we know, takes time to grow. Therefore, when the first enthusiasm of the communicators dies out, you need some content to keep you going.
One option is to recruit ambassadors. These are the communicative colleagues or company fans who, for one reason or another, really care for the place they work at. If your people believe and feel internal communication is important, they are more eager to help. Make ambassadors part of the company culture: find a company fan or a spokesperson from each department and ask them to collaborate. In our next post, we’ll tell you more about how to find such people and encourage them.
Another option to create engaging content without having to do everything yourself is choosing an internal communication tool with add-ons. This means that the entire organization is also using the same tool for e-learning, paid leave submissions, payslips, any formal survey or some other HR processes. If those add-ons get pushed to the news feed, your flow of information is constantly kept fresh and versatile.
Step 3: Improve Internal Communication by Boosting Contribution
So now you have ideas for boosting both your adoption as well as your activeness. Higher contribution is desired by most companies, but it’s something everyone struggles with.
As we explained in the intro, contribution shows the ones who are not just consuming, but also creating content and using the communication tools themselves: commenting, voting, posting and creating events.
1: Start Small
In order to boost contribution, you need to get your employees engaged first. Depending on where the company comes from, the reasons behind low contribution may vary. First of all, people might be simply shy. However, in more difficult cases, they might be distrustful either due to previous bad experiences with unanswered communications or bad consequences of speaking up. Therefore, start small and (re)build your people’s trust and participation gradually.
For example, have a raffle among the employees each quarter. A team event in their chosen location has worked well as a prize for our customers. In addition, you can share the event later on your channels, too. In Q1, ask them to simply comment their name to participate. In Q2, ask them to comment and name a company value to have a chance to win. In Q3, ask them to comment and add one idea for the company development – and so on.
Eventually, you have introduced the habit of responding and given them courage. Think of the process of growing the contribution as if it was a marathon instead of a sprint. Speaking of sports, one of our clients held a betting competition throughout the entire summer of UEFA EURO 2020 – before each game, people could predict the winner in a simple poll, and fun surprises were given out among the participants. Next time you’ll need their reply on a work-related poll, they already have the experience of using it.
2: Ask Your Employees for Help
Your people really appreciate seeing the bigger picture and feeling that they have contributed to the success of the company. Although you should begin developing your internal communication strategy by concentrating on what the employees need, when contribution is in question, it could be the right time to ask them for help.
In the company of one of our high-performing clients, every employee is a lead generator. If the employees see that their service is unavailable somewhere, they’ll let the company know. Each month, the sales team does an overview in GuavaHR of how many leads they got, how many of them became successful deals, how many they are still working on – and give shoutouts to those involved. This boosts the morale and sends the message that a lot of good stuff is happening – and that it’s the result of a team effort.
Another examples include nominating the employee of the month, choosing the interface for the company’s new chat robot, reporting urgent repairworks to be done, and so on.
How Do You Know You Are Actually Improving Internal Communications?
How do you actually know that you are succeeding? One way is to ask your the entire organization what they think of your internal communications several times per year as a part of your employee engagement and satisfaction survey, but this means you might receive important information with a delay. Another way is to analyse your employee turnover, but that’s a costly option.
There’s a saying that goes: “The price of light is less than the cost of darkness”. Modern internal communication tools, if chosen well, enable you to stop worrying about the technical issues and measure what’s important to you. What gets measured, gets managed, and you’ll also know whether the changes you are introducing have brought success or not.
If you need any help with enhancing your internal communications, GuavaHR might be the tool for you – fill out our contact form to get started!
Will Improving Internal Communication Take a Lot of Time?
We asked our best-performing clients about other improvements, too. What else has better internal communication gained them? Turns out that previously, they spent 2 to 10 hours each week to design, print, translate and distribute materials and make sure managers are informed and will spread the info to their team members. With GuavaHR, the average time spent on internal comms weekly was now no more than 2 hours.
They also said their employees are spending less time on searching the info, thus saving around 1 hour every month. With lots of employees, it adds up.
There are also the added time savings of add-ons: having your internal comms, e-learning tools, onboarding, employee self-service and document approvals in one place, but that’s a story for another time. If you’re curious, fill out our contact form to learn more.