When planning a marketing and communications strategy for your company, one of the very first—and most important—things to identify is your audience. Current customers, potential customers, media outlets and influencers are all important groups to target. But the single most important group to reach is often forgotten in a flurry of design and messaging points: your employees.
That’s right. The people you work with need to hear from you too, and the lack of effective communication to this crucial audience can have many negative impacts—from low morale and decreased productivity, to disengaged employees who are more likely to leave. According to a Gallup poll, 74% of employees feel like they’re missing out on company news because internal communications efforts are poor or non-existent. In fact, 60% of companies have no long-term strategy in place for internal communications.
A solid internal communications strategy is integral to any company, regardless of size or scope, and covers a variety of outreach needs—from HR and benefits communications to updates about company performance, new products and campaigns. It can, and should, also consider more personal communications, such as recognizing achievements to motivate employees and acknowledging difficult topics with empathy.
Communicating effectively and consistently with your employees shows them that they matter, their contributions make a difference, and their presence truly has an impact on the company’s bottom line. There’s a Richard Branson quote I’ve seen frequently on social media sites that speaks to this:
“Clients do not come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
Think about it: If your employees are well-informed about your company, its mission and products, and also feel appreciated for their contributions, they will take greater pride in the company they represent. That pride has a trickle-down effect that will be demonstrated when they interact with your customers, allowing them to speak confidently and positively about your organization.
I don’t know about you, but when someone is passionate and knowledgeable about what they are selling, it makes me feel better about purchasing it. If an employee is apathetic or unknowledgeable about a product or service, I’m more likely to walk away. Chances are, that person’s disinterest or lack of information are the result of poor management and communication. Afterall, the trickle-down effect works both ways.
This is why it’s so incredibly important to develop an internal communications plan that will inform and inspire your employees. When doing so, here are three simple things to consider:
1. Communicate with Regularity
Regular and consistent communication is absolutely paramount to increasing engagement and trust within your team. Messages don’t need to be lengthy or focused on big news—simple updates are enough to make sure your team feels involved and informed. When you build the expectation of regular communication, your employees will come to trust that when an important message needs to be shared, they’ll hear about it directly from the source.
2. Communicate Honestly and With Transparency
It should go without saying, but honesty is always the best policy. Sharing falsehoods is sure to catch up with you—and can quickly tarnish your credibility as a trustworthy leader. While it’s true that in certain situations, it’s impossible to tell the whole truth of the matter—such as when legal concerns prevent leaders and others from disclosing all the facts—providing as much truthful and transparent information as possible will build your employees’ trust in you as a forthright leader.
3. Communicate with Gratitude
A simple “thank you” can go a long way. How many of us have put in long hours on projects and never received a simple acknowledgement of that effort? It can be disheartening and lead you to wonder how valued you are in your position. Every person in your organization plays a role in making your company a success. Try taking a moment at the end of the week or a particularly busy time or stressful season to send a thank-you message out to your staff. A simple recognition of the role your team plays in the success of the organization can make a huge difference in employee morale.
Reaching your internal audiences doesn’t need to be time consuming, but it does need to be a priority for leaders who have a desire to increase employee engagement, facilitate trust and retain the best talent. These three tips are a good starting point for any leader who is ready to dip their toe into improving their internal communications.
That said, there is a broad range of other topics to consider as part of your internal communications plan, from communicating employee benefits and sharing tough news, to the best channels for reaching your employees whether they are deskbound or spend their days out in the field.