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How to avoid an Internal Communication disaster

By Anthony Monks

Internal Communication impacts every single employee, at every level - so getting it right is crucial. 

When done well, Internal Communication can have a transformative quality for your organisation as it helps to align employees with the organisation’s mission, vision and strategic objectives. It can boost employee morale and increase productivity, making it a key driver for the bottom line. 

It is fair to say that getting Internal Communication right is mission critical for any organisation.

When an organisation gets Internal Communication wrong, it can do great harm. For example low employee morale, reduced profits, as well as poor staff retention and recruitment rates, not to mention potential reputational damage - all of these can be a result of poor internal communication that will hit the bottom line, hard.

The scary thing is that it’s estimated to cost a business around 33% of a worker’s salary to replace them, and given the average UK salary is around  £29,000, that is a significant cost for an organisation to stomach. This is without factoring in the other costs such as recruitment, training and lost productivity! 

With disengaged employees being much more likely to seek alternative employment, as well as being less productive and efficient in their role, and not to mention talking about their poor experiences publicly - it is in the organisation’s interest to understand what’s going on and why, so they can put measures in place to try and fix any problem highlighted by employees. 

In this blog, we discuss two fundamental Internal Communication ‘must haves’ which can help  organisations avoid an Internal Communication disaster!

 

An Internal Communications strategy you say?

The old adage of failing to prepare is preparing to fail is an apt way to begin here.

When preparing an Internal Communication strategy, forward planning is critical. It is one organisational function where by doing it ‘on the fly’, just won’t cut the mustard. 

Every organisation needs a carefully planned Internal Communication strategy, which should aim to create a shared understanding between an organisation and its employees, by connecting them to the organisation's strategic purpose. 

An Internal Communication strategy should be tailored to your organisation's needs, people and culture - as well as being intrinsically linked to the overall organisational strategy, considering the link to key stakeholders and functions, such as the Board, Marketing, PR/Communications, HR, Governance, to name but a few. 

So not an easy task!

Creating a strong Internal Communication strategy can be challenging and unless organisations put some serious time and thought into the planning, they may find that their messages fail to meet their mark. 

Moreover, if internal messaging is not clear, it impacts external communication, as employees will not have a unified message, or may give one which is not in-line with that of the organisation - all of which sees an organisation heading for an Internal Communication disaster. 

 

Don’t ignore employee feedback - however it comes in! 

Gaining feedback is one of the most fundamental elements within the Internal Communication mix, because when given the right channel and situation, employees will tell you what is and isn’t working. This allows the Internal Communication strategy to be adjusted, based on feedback.

Employee feedback can reach an organisation in many ways, shapes and forms. It categorically is not just an output from the annual employee survey - it is critical that an organisation captures employee feedback regularly, understands it and knows how to turn that into action to demonstrate that employee voices are heard and acted upon. 

Failing to gain and deal with feedback demonstrates to employees that the organisation simply does not care what they think, or even want their input. More often than not this results in employees not engaging and expressing their views, which consequently erodes relationships with managers and senior leaders - to the ultimate detriment of the organisation.

Organisations should look to identify appropriate channels to gather employee feedback. For example, asking staff how they want to provide feedback and what their expectations are is a great starting point. Organisations might be surprised by what they find out!

Organisations can also gain real-time information using snap polls and interactions with digital communications - for example via an intranet, internal social media groups or email communications.

Gathering and analysing this data is essential, especially when implementing change or new ways of working as organisations can gain constant feedback, as well as understand what impact their communication interventions are having. 

 

Don’t delay. Act now!

If organisations can gain and act upon employee feedback, it presents the quickest route to identify issues within the workplace, helping to avoid any internal unrest, or unhappiness. 

No organisation in their right mind would intentionally let their workforce become unhappy and disengaged, but the reality is that without taking appropriate steps, many organisations end up sleepwalking into a disaster.

It may sound obvious. You may have even heard it before - but a happy and ‘in the know’  workforce, that understands their place and role within the organisation and how their contribution supports overall organisational success are going to play their part in helping it to achieve its strategic objectives.

When it’s done well, Internal Communication can transform a business. With a robust strategy, bought-in senior leaders and managers, as well as having effective systems and processes in place - organisations will find that their workforce is more motivated and productive than ever before. 

However, you need to put some serious time and effort into your Internal Communication strategy, because when Internal Communication is handled poorly within an organisation, an Internal Communication disaster is just around the corner!