If the COVID-19 pandemic taught employers anything, it is the essential nature of employee communications.
For many businesses, nonprofits and even government entities, communicating internally can be a bit of a mystery. We tend to be much better at speaking to the outside world than to our own co-workers.
Think about it: Let’s say you’ve developed or improved upon a widget and want to get the word out to current and potential customers or clients. It’s relatively easy, depending on the size of your company, the type of your industry and the scope of your achievement. You send emails, make phone calls, post something on social media, purchase ads, perhaps even contact someone like me to craft a news release and get it distributed.
Yet, as much thought as we give to touting our products and services to “outsiders,” we sometimes forget to talk directly with our teammates. Remember them? They’re the ones we brag about being our greatest asset.
The pandemic certainly drove this sometimes-uncomfortable reality home. Employees not only need, but also deserve, regular and consistent communications from their employer, and they want at least some degree of two-way dialogue rather than top-down-only communication.
For many companies, internal communications are infrequent and varied without any clear strategy or goal. When it comes to internal communications, consistency is crucial. Town halls, internal newsletters, CEO-authored letters and speeches can all help drive home key points, but it’s not a one-shot strategy. For the best results, there should be a plan in place with clear goals and a mechanism for employee feedback.
In addition to consistency, simplicity is key. Unnecessary analysis and an insistence on consensus cause key messages to become watered down or changed completely, or the communication to be delayed until it is no longer timely. It’s easy for critical employee communications to get butchered by bureaucracy, often causing employees to completely misinterpret the original intent.
Focusing on the key messages you hope to communicate and the best ways to deliver those messages across available platforms isn’t complicated; it just requires planning.
In the end, the pandemic proved that employees want critical information, but they also want to know they’re being heard. Communication, after all, has always been a two-way street, and as with any street, traveling it requires one foot in front of the other – with a destination always in the forefront of your mind.
Charlie Price is a founding partner at Price Lang Public Relations.