The emergence of COVID-19 and the radical change in how we work fed us new channels for formal and informal communications. How many of us have heard from a CEO or leadership team member, “What else can we offer? Let’s try (insert Zoom, Teams, Yammer, Workplace, Viva, Slack, newsletters here)”? Maybe your organization onboarded one, two or many of these channels over the last two years, and now you’re left with more channels than your communications team can possibly maintain and sustain.
As we are all finding our footing in the new normal workplace, it is critical to take a closer look at our internal communications infrastructure — the communications channels that allow us to reach, engage and connect with employees. Not only to make sure we are first and foremost adequately communicating with meaningful and engaging content, but also that we are reaching employees on their terms.
Why is this important? According to Trade Press Services, 85% of employees said they’re most motivated by effective internal communications. Higher motivation and engagement lead to enhanced productivity, profitability and business results all around.
However, for the average desktop employee the number of communication channels available is daunting and likely not effective. According to a recent survey, nearly 75% of workers are feeling a digital overload from the reliance on technology for all forms of communication. And now, isolate those employees from their typical work environment and their trusted pod mate to ask for help and people are even more discouraged. Simplifying and streamlining the digital employee landscape is a worthwhile investment for any communications team.
Where Do We Start?
- Audience first. What are the tools available to your wired and non-wired employees? While non-wired employees often make up most of a workforce, we as communicators end up spending the majority of our time focused on the wired, desktop employees. Let’s flip the script and define a segmented audience approach to looking at communication channels.
- Capture employee preferences. What channels do your employees gravitate toward? How do they like to consume information? Seek out where employees are already going to and spending time during their workday and make sure your communications are accessible there.
- Define the landscape. Communications teams have more channel options today than needed to effectively reach their employees. If your company’s infrastructure of tools overwhelms you as a communications expert, imagine how your employees feel. Start with a simple matrix defining the purpose of each channel and how it fits into your larger strategy. Formalize this with employees — this is also an excellent onboarding tool for new team members.
- It’s OK to cut. In creating a channel matrix, perhaps you realize there is redundancy in your channel offerings. Or maybe some don’t serve a clear purpose. Don’t be afraid to eliminate a channel. Develop a formal sunset plan to make sure any relevant content is maintained. Employees will appreciate the employee-first mindset and actions being taken by the company to make their lives easier. Sometimes less is more.
- Safe and secure. In some companies today, non-wired teams are using channels to communicate that aren’t company approved. Seek to understand all the channels being used, formal and informal, and implement solutions that are safe and secure to protect your employees and the company while meeting communication needs.
When we focus employees on a core set of communications channels, it leads to a better employee experience. Employees have better clarity about where to go for information, they’re more likely to invest the time to engage with your internal communications and you support them in their jobs and make their lives easier.