In June of 2005, Steve Jobs gave the commencement address at Stanford where he touched on the importance of employee communications.
"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life," he explained. "The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work."
This seems simple, but 70% of employees do not know how their day-to-day work fits in with the goals of their company. For many employees, the largest obstacle to doing great work is understanding what great work would actually look like in their role. If you're wondering how to improve employee communications, you must first accept this reality.
This is where effective internal communications becomes absolutely key to improving employee engagement. Organizations that can focus on a single mission are incredibly powerful. By introducing that focus at Apple, Jobs helped transition Apple from a company on the verge of bankruptcy to one of the largest companies in the world. Apple does a superb job of communicating with their employees, and that helps build passion within the organization.
Not every company is going to be the next Apple, but improving your internal communications can lead to benefits across the board in your organization.
Here are seven tips you will need to know when considering how to improve employee communication in your organization, enhance your employee engagement, and ensure everyone from the top down has the information they need to do great work in their role.
- Be clear about your mission and vision: It is truly amazing how much your employees can do, and how good their judgement can be when they clearly understand the mission and vision of the company. As a part of this, you need to make the objectives and goals of your company public (at least internally).
- Get personal: Your marketing teams already have the ability and the technology to create highly personalized communications targeted towards your clients—why not also use that for your employees? Instead of telling people about a new company policy or initiative, you can specifically tell employees how it relates to them.
- Reach out on many channels: Your employees, just like your customers, consume media through a number of different channels. In an era of social media platforms such as YouTube, and smart phones in general, posting notices on the break room wall is no longer an effective internal communication strategy. Instead of a handout or email that might go unread, consider a catchy video interview or some other multi-media communications tactic.
- Be consistent: Far too many organizations only communicate with their employees in crisis situations. By reaching out regularly, you can be proactive—solving problems through internal communications—while helping employees build the habit of reading what you circulate.
- Encourage information sharing: With any audience, clients or employees, it is almost impossible to get 100% penetration on a message. Someone will miss your communication, so you need to build a corporate culture where people share knowledge internally and where everyone knows who to approach if they need information about something.
- Strengthen connections: No matter what the size of your company, your employees will be less likely to communicate well if they lack a connection to their coworkers. It is easy to take for granted the shared background of working for the same company and forget that many employees, even people in the same department, can be virtually strangers to each other. Don’t just help people understand their roles, help them understand the roles of their colleagues as well. This way, everyone will know when the information they have might benefit someone else on the team.
- Make communication a dialogue, not a megaphone: Social media marketing involves creating a dialogue with you clients; should your internal communications be any different? Your company’s staff hold a number of different viewpoints – each understanding information in a different way. By giving them a voice in internal communications you let them acquire the information they need to do their jobs better. You might even get feedback which will help you improve the entire communications process.
Finally, you can't forget how important an employee advocacy program can be to you internal communications. Effective communication helps empower your employees by giving them the information they need to do the best jobs they can. This helps them keep a better pulse on what is happening in the company, and how they can contribute.
You may not be building the next Apple, but every company benefits from having efficient and engaged workers. Don’t be one of the businesses whose employees don’t know how their day-to-day work fits in with the overall goals of their company.