We know you’re busy, and that your internal communications plan might not be top of mind right now. But you know what? It should be. If you have an outdated or non-existent internal communications plan, we’ve got two words for you: Get crackin’.
There is plenty of evidence that corporate communication mishaps can make or break a company’s reputation. Social media outlets can quickly turn into PR tornados, wiping out individuals, brands, and businesses who post without thinking. Because of this real and present threat, many organizations have chosen to focus on external messaging and ignore the delicate web of in-house communications.
But if external communication mishaps are like tornados, internal communication problems are downright volcanic. While they may not be apparent, these issues can be burning and churning underneath the surface for quite some time— until that day when everything explodes.
To avoid getting swept away by an internal communication eruption, let’s talk about why it’s so important for your employees to be in the know. Here's what's going on:
Chances are your employees are feeling uneasy and under-appreciated these days. Corporate restructuring, increasing hours and expectations, stagnant wages, and constant understaffing are some of the coping mechanisms employed by businesses during the great recession. A decade later, many companies are still continuing to use these tactics, and they have taken a toll on the workforce.
Employees are desperately craving honesty, transparency, leadership, and recognition. Open lines of communication are the first step toward building employee trust and confidence, and when levels of employee trust are high, so are levels of employee engagement and retention.
Note: You can’t communicate your way out of a one-sided relationship. If you’re not treating your employees well, no amount of messaging will convince them to stay. Restructure your business practices to be more employee friendly, then communicate them out.
The culture of "NOW!"
Gone are the days when you could keep things on the down-low for a while. Your employees expect to be updated in real time. And with so many forms of instant communication available, if you don’t do it, someone else will.
Letting your staff learn about company matters from the news, grapevine or other indirect sources will crush any trust you’ve worked to build. Trust us on this one. Even if it’s only to report that you’ve won the Best Employer Ever award for the 12th year in a row, your employees want to hear it from you first.
Perception vs. Reality
If you don’t constantly communicate with your team, they will develop their own personal versions of organizational reality. Some may be extra kind in their vison, but others will spread nothing but negativity, whether it’s accurate or not.
If the negative stuff is actually true and you think holding back communication will help, you’re wrong. The best communication acknowledges mistakes and explains how they will be corrected.
If your organization is all about good stuff, don’t be modest. Get the word out there so your employees have a full understanding of your culture and why you do what you do. The more they know, the more excited they will be about working for you, and the more community ambassadors you will have.
Clarity breeds efficiency
Is getting mixed signals better than getting no signals at all? This would be a fun question to discuss at your next dinner party. But right now, you need to get back to work. And so does everybody else.
The problem is, if your team doesn’t know what’s expected of them, how are they supposed to be successful?
If you think time spent communicating your vision, goals, instructions, and expectations isn’t a good investment, try giving someone a project with no guidance or parameters and see how long it takes them to complete it. Then count how many times it needs to be re-worked and re-done. Then do the math on your total investment. And try not to cry.
Clear, consistent communication sets the stage for better performance and better results. It also saves your employees the stress of working in a vacuum and/or spending precious hours trying to figure out what in the heck you want them to do.
It's time to look inside
In today’s business environment, communication is king. If you’ve been focusing on the client-facing aspect of it, congrats! But you’re only halfway there. Put together an internal plan that includes the following:
- A clear picture of your company “why”
- Regular updates on company and employee changes
- Acknowledgement (and celebration!) of company successes
- Acknowledgement of company mistakes and course corrections
- Open information pathways between leadership, staff, and teams
- Clear, consistent training and education on processes and expectations
Don’t ignore the things that might be silently bubbling under the surface of your organization. Give your employees the leadership and communication they deserve.
Photo by worldroadtrip
At Q4intelligence, we work with agencies who believe in looking beyond insurance to provide real solutions to today’s most pressing business problems like employee communication and retention. How? By transforming the relationship between brokers and HR professionals from a single annual transaction to a powerhouse of constant teamwork, communication and results.
If you’re interested in a true employee benefits partnership that will help keep your employees healthy and happy and make your company an employer of choice, let us know and we’ll introduce you to an agency in your area. If, by chance, there isn’t one in your neighborhood, no worries! We’re full of great ideas.