For many years, the focus of internal communication efforts was only on creation of draft speeches for your CEOs, content for the internal newsletter, or distribution of communication material at your workplace.
These are still important, without doubt. But it doesn’t make financial sense for your communications specialist, to spend a large chunk of their time on such low-value activities.
Today, you need internal communications not only to create content on time, but also help make strategic decisions and solve business problems.
Financial Returns on Internal Communication
In business, everything is a cost under one of these three heads – process, people and product. The time your people spend on water-cooler conversations, make up for thousands of dollars in form of employee time – that you can trade for money.
Therefore, as a manager, you need to be able to deliver results that can justify the spends. Let’s take the sentiment to the internal communication process, too.
A Towers Watson study reveals that companies, which are highly effective in their internal communications, deliver 47 per cent higher total returns, to shareholders – in comparison to firms that have poor internal communication.
For you to see these results, your business leaders need to work in closer collaboration with the communication specialists.
The conversations between the two should be like – “I have a business problem that leads to big losses, how can the internal communications team help?” and “I have an internal communications problem that causes huge losses, how can the business help?”
THIS is when internal communication creates true value.
Top Business Problems that Internal Communication Helps Solve
Read on to understand the business problems that it helps resolve at your firm:
- Lack of employee engagement: Put simply, you need your people to relate to the organisation’s values, feel empowered to function at their productive best and ensure that their concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
- Your employees may be a part of the 70% US working population, who lose their productivity and cost you a fortune at the business. Gallup estimates that it costs the U.S. $450 to $550 billion/year
- Disengaged employees leave their organizations, sooner than later. 23% employees who leave your company, left it because they were not engaged at work. It may well cost you 50 to 150% of their annual salary to find a replacement
- Bill Quirke, noted internal communications expert, suggests that when employees understand how they fit in to the business, 91% of them work towards achievement of the goal. If this role is not made amply clear, through employee communication, the percentage drops to 23.
With the latest trend of Millennial talent hopping jobs at the blink of an eye; it is important for you to give them enough reason to stay at your organisation, willingly. Communicating rewards and recognition programs, gamifying of work and even just listening to employee issues and provide relevant solutions, can go a long way to maintain employee loyalty.
- Instability caused during succession & change management: Huge upheavals like a brand revamp or management change can leave your workforce uncertain about the future of your company. You need to communicate the reasons for adoption of new measures in the company and make the employee feel like they are part of the decision making process, to ensure that employee motivation is sustained
- Excesses relating to payroll: If you share, with employees, positive messages about the organisation along with details of employee benefit schemes; you can inspire them at the workplace. This will ensure that they willingly deliver results that justify their salaries.
- Trouble with sourcing the right talent: Tell your employees about the roles you’re trying to fill and pave the way for effective referrals. Your people will enjoy the incentives that are on offer and will encourage better quality of candidates – as your employees are the ones who back these referrals.
- Legal issues in an ever-changing regulatory environment: Be it regulations on water conservation, healthcare plans or taxes; your people need to be made aware of how they can aid the company to stay within the limits of law.
- Low stakeholder engagement for departments: IT and Finance departments have traditionally been weak with communications. Communication specialists can intervene and work closely with these departments to help them explain their thoughts to the remaining stakeholders in the company in a better manner.
- Lack of policies governing employee social media usage : Communication specialists need to devise dos and don’ts for usage of social media portals (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) and train employees on them. Employees are often unaware of the information that they should disclose publicly. Owing to this,d your business may lose its integrity, and competitive edge, if you don’t control this effectively.
- Manage dynamic shifts in technology: Your HR teams should focus on internal communications to promote adoption of the new tools and best practices on how to use them.
Internal Communication Trends for 2015
- From the top-down approach of the yester-years, today the focus is on peer to peer communication. Your employees and managers will derive true value from face-to-face communication, not corporate announcements in newsletters or messages on the intranet. Your company’s presence on digital social media channels is a great way to foster this sort of interaction.
- Measurement of returns on the internal communication efforts has increasingly become a popular requirement amongst top management, who are hungry for proof of ROI(Return on Investment).
Research states that companies less-effective at communications are three times as likely to report lack of formal measurements of communication effectiveness, than their ‘superstar communicator’ counterparts.
- Focus on aligning channels, messages and the outcome of your communication material and not just the grammar
- As the BYOD(Bring-your-own-device-to-work) trend catches on and more employees prefer to work remotely, a mobile-first approach needs to be taken for all internal communications. Data security becomes more important and you need effective measures to manage it.
- While the written word is here to stay, no form of communication captures attention better than a brilliantly executed video. Use of videos, in internal communication, is a great way to stand out in the ever increasing noise of messages your people are exposed to
- On an average, it takes an employee 64 seconds to get back to the work that he was engaged, in before the email interruption. To reduce internal email spam, you can condense daily company news into a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter and target the message to the right segment of the audience.
Thus, heads of internal communication should correspond regularly with the top management, with regards to all key decisions made for the company, to decide how (or if at all) employees need to receive this information.
Your company also needs to encourage the HR team to help solve business problems, through internal communication. In this manner, you will be able to project improvements in the company’s bottom-line.
How does the internal communications team at your organisation function? Are they working to solve such business problems? We would love to hear of your experiences.