Every year brings with it new challenges and fresh ways of working, so it’s safe to say that 2021 will be no different.
After all, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown the world into chaos, forcing businesses around the globe to change their approach to work, both internally and externally. Some industries have been hit a lot harder than others in this regard, with certain businesses prospering from the gradual movement towards remote working environments.
As a result of this transition, new strategies have had to be devised to prioritize working processes, ultimately leaving many companies with no choice but to bring their systems, software, and infrastructure into the modern era.
One such area to have seen a massive overhaul in recent months has been the internal communication channels used within various companies.
Now, thanks to the pandemic, having effective internal communication is more imperative than ever, especially as we head forward into the new year. So, with this in mind, we thought we’d run through some of the main ways you can improve your business’ internal communication this year, while also highlighting a few major areas to avoid.
Effective internal communication is vital when it comes to driving change and ensuring your employees feel engaged with their work.
However, while many businesses may recognize the importance of internal communication, investment in the field is often on the low side, with many managers and business owners often opting to prioritize other areas instead.
According to a study by Reba, for example, the average amount of investment companies dedicate to improving internal communication equates to the equivalent of the cost of a chocolate bar per employee each month.
As such, if you're looking to stay ahead of the field, it's important for you to not only value the impact effective internal communication channels can make but to also put your money where your mouth is, investing in it to reach the desired level.
The times have changed significantly this year, after all, and there is now an increased need for outdated systems to be replaced, high staff turnover rates to be addressed, remote working processes to be implemented, and, fundamentally, communication channels to be improved.
With all this talk of the pandemic, it can be easy to forget about some of the other key workplace issues, such as the importance of mental health.
A growing problem within the world of work, mental health issues have become even more of a concern recently in light of having limited access to friends, family, colleagues, and loved ones.
As such, without having an effective internal communication system in place at work, your employees could feel even more left out, made to cope with their episodes of stress without any kind of outlet for them to talk through their issues.
As their employer, you need to do everything you can to avoid this. Whether it be through establishing a safe space for them to talk to you personally, encouraging your staff to talk to one another, or hiring a specialist to highlight the dangers of the related mental health issues, you need to remove the stigma of mental health, stress, and anxiety from your workplace by promoting an open conversation.
Otherwise, you could only end up creating more problems for yourself later on in the year – from increased levels of staff burnout, turnover, and ’executive stress’, to much lower levels of workplace productivity.
Making an effort to implement a stronger company culture can go a long way. Simply encourage employees to collaborate, and set up activities where they interact with each other, even if it’s not work-related. You could have cross-department bonding and networking activities to build a feeling of camaraderie and inclusion in your organization.
Something as simple as a virtual trivia hour or game night can boost morale. You could also make it more work-oriented by giving awards to people for the hard work they’ve done, but announcing rewards and acknowledging people on a group video call. You can be creative in what you want to do, but acknowledging and including employees goes a long way.
The coronavirus pandemic and the transition to remote working could have led to a disconnect between you and your employees. Therefore, it’s important to address this before it festers and your employees feel you are no longer interested in their input.
The New Year offers employees an opportunity to reflect on their life, after all, giving them the chance to weigh how happy they are with their current situations. As such, you need to plant yourself into their way of thinking and listen to what they want.
As research proves, a massive 80% of people leave their jobs over a lack of appreciation. Likewise, despite nine out of ten employers thinking their employees leave for more money, in reality, only 12% leave for that reason. So, rather than trying to guess, why not ask your employees what they want?
By opening up this channel of communication, your employees will not only feel more respected and valued, but they will be a lot happier in their work, which can only be a good thing when it comes to productivity.
The old phrase ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ doesn’t hold true within the world of internal communication.
Technological advances have come on leaps and bounds over the past few years and, if anything, the coronavirus pandemic has helped fast-track the design, development, and arrival of many forms of software.
As such, archaic and outdated systems need to become a thing of the past when trying to improve your internal communication channels. Not only are they clunky and difficult to use, but they could also leave your employees feeling increasingly disengaged.
Likewise, thanks to the growing transition towards remote working, utilizing advances in technology is a must-do when trying to streamline working processes.
Cloud-based services and purpose-built communication systems have been specifically designed to help in this way, so use them. Otherwise, you could find yourself losing staff members as a result.
It’s all too easy to underestimate the importance of internal communication, but in doing so, you’ll only end up shooting yourself in the foot.
Therefore, as we begin 2021, it’s vital to have an effective system in place, specifically adapted around both the physical and mental needs of your employees.
That way, you will put your business – and your workers – in the best possible position, while also safeguarding against the potential threat of employee disengagement, high turnover, and lost revenue.
Gemma Hart is an independent HR professional working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Since graduating in 2013, Gemma has gained experience in a number of HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts. Connect with her on Twitter: @GemmaHartTweets
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