Here at Factor 3 the majority of internal communications are delivered face to face either informally during cakes on a Friday or formally at our monthly staff meeting. On the odd occasion, when a really important piece of news has to be shared an additional (usually last minute) staff meeting is arranged.
Emails are used primarily to communicate admin and general ‘housekeeping’ information – with the odd ‘Fancy a Thirsty Thursday drink?’ thrown in for good measure. Our internal noticeboard tends to accommodate a moving feast of information ranging from: ‘thank you’ notes from clients; the Friday cake rota; holiday chart; offer vouchers that people have received but don’t want/need, right through to anything that individual employees feel may be of interest to others within the organisation.
This process has evolved over time and there’s been a bit of trial and error involved along the way (the weekly 9am Wednesday morning staff meetings didn’t work too well…can’t think why!) – but overall, the above communications tools work for us.
All organisations are different and just because the above works for us, it doesn’t mean this would be suitable for everyone else out there. Size and culture of organisation needs to be taken into account, as do existing channels for communicating with staff. For larger organisations an intranet may be the best way to communicate staff together with cascade team meetings to ensure important information gets communicated face to face in a timely manner.
For anybody out there who’s putting together an internal communications programme, here are a few pointers which should help get you started:
Find out how your employees prefer to be communicated with. If a large proportion of your staff are out on the road or work from home – then email may be the best way to communicate with them. There’s no one size fits all answer to internal communications, so finding out what methods people prefer is a good starting point.
Make it face to face as much as possible. Particularly when it comes to delivering bad or important news, employees generally prefer to be communicated with face to face, by management. It gives them an opportunity to ask questions and makes them feel valued. While this may not always be practical, where it can be done, it should be done.
Make it two-way…listen to what your employees are saying and show that you’ve listened by acting upon what they’ve said. If you listen but don’t act, then staff are likely to become cynical about internal communications.
Explain your vision, values and messages – so that employees understand how what they do on a day to day basis fits into the bigger picture.
Be honest – tell the bad news as well as the good. Say when you can’t give the full picture making it clear when more information will be available.
Involve managers – employees like to find out about issues that affect them from their front line managers and are more likely to ask them questions/discuss issues which concern them, on a one to one basis.
Tie in with external communications – employees feel valued if they know important news as soon as possible. Don’t make them read about it in the local papers first.
Make it interesting and focussed– employees bombarded with emails will switch off. Plan your internal communications and be imaginative when time and budget allows.