Posted on: 07 April 2015
Ten tips to creating great employee communications
Communications is on the agenda for many businesses at this time of year. Sharing a vision or financial results, talking pay review or performance all involve engaging and communicating with your people. So many great initiatives or pay budgets fall short of their potential because of a lack of good communicating, so to help you get it right here are a few tips.
1. Who are you talking to? Split your audience down into groups where you can. Think about how these different groups will be impacted, who will need to be aware and who should be kept in the loop? While you are identifying the different groups think about who they are and what they are like.
2. Make it personal. Technology now allows us to communicate personally, both in the way we address a mass message eg Dear Lucy, but also in the way we present information. Entering an intranet site should be a personal experience you should see information that is relevant to you – my job role, my department etc not bland, blanket mass message relevant to no-one. If you don’t make it personal you won’t be seen as a cost saver, you’ll be seen as lazy and as a company that doesn’t care.
3. Create a vision. The day to day operational messages and information that your employees need to receive to do their job will be more interesting, relevant and better received if they have context. So share your vision. We know that to create engagement you need leadership and leaders are visionary. Explain the long-game, the goals and objectives of the company, what is the business plan. Not in detail but the highlights and big picture
4. Be clear about what you want to say. Think about the messages, but get to the point and make it relevant. Think about it in their terms (put yourself in their shoes) what’s important to them, what do they care about
5. Start today. The error many businesses make is to wait … we don’t have all the answers yet, we need things to be a bit more concrete before we communicate. This is a mistake. If there is a gap in your communications it will be filled – and not by you. Start talking, you really don’t need the whole picture to be in place, share what you know now and add to it or change it if that’s what’s needed.
6. Create a conversation. One of the biggest changes in communication and marketing is the way we involve people. Reviews on retail sites, comments on blogs and social media have been the catalyst to the biggest change to business communications in recent years. If we embrace a real dialogue with our customers and clients then we should afford our staff the same treatment. Involve them, allow them to collaborate with the business, communicate across the hierarchy and comment.
7. Keep talking. Once you’ve created the vision and shared the story, keep talking. Keep your employees updated with relevant information and changes. Ask for opinion and their help with a project. Keep the communication flowing.
8. Make it stimulating (be creative). You are competing with so many other communications and messages. Your employees will no doubt have a smart phone, access to facebook and other social media during their lunch break, as well as the traditional advertising channels out there. Work and home life has become blurred and you need to get their attention. So treat your employees as you would your customers, market to them. Be creative, entertaining, stimulating, thought provoking or, if appropriate, funny. For example announce a new member of the leadership team to the company on u-tube. Create a video of them talking about themselves and showing their personality. Far better than a bland written announcement.
9. Diversity and variety. Use a variety of media to get your message across. The Intranet is a great place to store all the detailed information, but use other media to support it. How about a blog written by a member of the project team (peer to peer communication). Brown bag lunches with the leadership team that allow informal discussion and jump the traditional hierarchical divide. Gaming is the latest learning approach but equally it can be used in a ‘communications pod’ to engage employees in a creative way.
10. My final point is to show respect. By following these rules and making a message personal and relevant you are showing respect to the people you are communicating with. If not you are wasting valuable time and resources. If you write 1000 words and share it with 100 people it will take just over 8.5 hours of their time to read – more than 1 day’s work. Is what you’re saying worth it?