If you’ve spent the last seven weeks ramping up your messaging and external comms, I hope you’ve also factored your internal comms into the mix too!
Internal is always seen as the poor relation, often only present in large multinational organisations or sometimes pulled out of the bag during a crisis, then promptly dumped once said crisis is over. But suddenly you get a situation like the one we’re experiencing and internal comms shoots right to the top of the priority list. And if this hasn’t happened in your organisation yet - then you need to act. And act now!
Like many other agencies, KISS is currently operating as a virtual agency. As a result, we’ve learnt that we can adapt, be agile and still deliver great work for our clients. But this also means that we have had to adapt as teams too, and this is where employer/employee comms is critical - we’re experiencing something like never before and it’s the key to keeping employees on board. It ensures you’re all singing from the same hymn sheet and that everyone is aligned with your external messaging. It also helps to keep morale high and supports everyone in being agile, flexible and collaborative.
The most common mistake, made by many, is to view internal and external communications as separate functions. They’re not! Employees are just as much brand advocates as your customer or target consumer. And, if you have a disengaged, unmotivated workforce who’ve had no clear sense of certainty or direction then you can bet that they’re going to let their friends, colleagues and social media know about it. And that’s when your problems start.
So, what should your internal comms spotlight shine on during the current global crisis?
As we’ve witnessed recently with political leaders on the global stage, leadership really matters. The culture and attitude of your organisation will come from the top - if you want a passionate and enthusiastic workforce then you need to train your leaders to be passionate and enthusiastic communicators. Your employees will be looking for clarity and understanding, so get your tone right and above all else stand out and lead to provide a true sense of wellbeing. There will a be a wide range of anxiety levels right now and leadership is crucial here - a level-headed voice of reason will be gratefully received by many.
According to a Gallup workplace surveya key predictor of low worry and high confidence is whether each employee believes, and experiences, that the organisation is looking out for their best interest. Open and honest communications clearly count towards people having trust in you. They want to work for companies for reasons other than just financial. And if they are happy and trust in you, they will become some of your best brand ambassadors – and deliver their best work for you.
3. A two-way exchange
No matter what size, all companies and organisations should encourage conversations between employees from the top down, and vice versa. If you want employees on side and engaged you’ve got to make it two-way – talk to them about how they’re feeling, pick up the phone, use tools like Slack, Yammer or WhatsApp to encourage conversation. If it’s top down comms only then you won’t get very far in developing your best brand ambassadors.
4. Frequency and continuity
A recent report found that when it comes to information on the current pandemic, employees expect regular updates from their employers – 63 per cent ask for daily updates and one fifth expect communications several times a day. Crisis aside, it’s important to maintain a regular flow of information to keep employees on track and on side.
Put simply – if you don’t measure then how do you know it’s working? You need to be able to understand engagement levels, satisfaction, understanding of key messages and right now it’s imperative to gauge levels of anxiety. It’s about benchmarking sentiment and measuring so you can learn what’s working and what’s not. There’s no point delivering a beautifully designed, content packed e-bulletin if no-one is reading it and you’re getting no feedback on it. So, analyse what you’re doing, what resonates most and what works: think about surveys, digital analysis, focus groups and one-to-one calls.
Keep in mind that one size doesn’t fit all and remember that your internal comms work shouldn’t stop the minute this crisis ends – keep it going, learn from it, improve on it and you’ll see the benefits on your workforce. Keep that spotlight shining, and if you’d like help flicking the switch then give us a call.