Can Internal Communication Deliver Employee Loyalty?
It’s Thursday morning. You enter your cabin at 9 am wishing everyone a good morning on the way in. Five minutes in your cabin, you hear a knock at the door by an employee. She says she wants to resign because she feels bored and isn’t able to get along with people pretty well. You somehow talk her into staying for a month more only to have another employee come in for the same reason a couple of days later. He is unhappy with the way he is being treated by his manager and wants to move on. He’s upset with the way his manager communicates with him and complains of not being heard. By the end of the month, you have a third person taking about an exit because his manager confronted him when he was chatting near the water cooler.
These and many such reasons have become common reasons for employees to resign. And you are left wondering, what the real problem is? Could it be that your managers not communicating with your employees? Are they effective enough in their communication? Do employees feel heard? Are the complaints valid?
On one hand, an employee feels no conversation made her work boring, on the other hand, too much conversation looked like negative talk that needed to be curbed. How do you strike the balance between both?
Well the answer is simple, put the spot light on ‘Internal Communication’. When approached correctly, it allows you to know the pulse of the organisation and to take proactive steps to ensure that your workplace has a positive work environment. But just before we deep dive into how we should approach internal communication, let’s quickly look at what different kinds of conversations exist in your workplace.
Company to Employee
This includes most formal part of company’s communication. It has everything from meetings to memos that you communicate to an employee from day one. Communication from company to employee could be in a variety of ways:
• Company’s vision and mission
• Employee handbooks and instruction manuals
• Onboarding email, induction documents
• Performance expectations
• Emails and other communication done on a daily basis
• Training sessions and seminars
• Feedbacks, memos, criticisms, appreciations, delegations
• Announcements, notices, confrontations
Your employees would be constantly judging the communication and making a perception about the company based on who is communicating, how is it being communicated, tone, language and a variety of other communication related aspects.
Employee to Company
This includes everything that an employee conveys to the company. They usually are part of acknowledgments, requests and some form of feedback. These include:
• Emails and acknowledgements
• Requests for leave, money, concessions or other things
• Response to various feedback given to the employees
• Review session feedback forms
• Referrals, suggestions or recommendations
• Other occasional forms for communication like informal chats, messages and so on
More often than not, this communication is given little importance. Thought, it plays a very critical role in evaluating your internal branding strategy based on their needs and perspective. You can know which areas to improve upon by just paying attention to the internal communication of employee to the company.
Employee to Employee
This involves peer to peer communication among the employees, the famous grape vine. From inside a cabin, it may seem like inappropriate or unproductive, however, it may not always be the case. Employees may be communicating for various reasons:
• Discussing projects and their accomplishments
• Discussing the challenges in their projects
• Asking for or giving advice to deal with a particular task or situation
• Peer to peer communication becomes the biggest contributor in helping new employees bond with existing employees
• Creating/promoting a healthy work environment where people enjoy to come
• Helping each other deal with personal problems so it doesn’t affect their work
Some or all of these might seem like a waste of time under certain circumstances but it certainly contributes to keeping the professional sanity in place. A workforce that doesn’t communicate with each other or doesn’t promote open communication is not just boring but also less productive. Comparatively, productive communications like those mentioned above tend to boost productivity even further.
How can you ensure your internal communication falls in line with the ideal scenario?
All it needs is for you to make your work environment more supportive towards people working for you. This would involve taking conscious efforts towards it and doing the following steps religiously at your workplace. What do you get in return? A happy workforce that is not just productive but also willing to stay loyal to the company for as long as it takes. So here’s what you can do to achieve this:
1. Identify your company culture
The crux of internal communication lies in identifying and articulating what is the culture you want to promote. Yes, culture is a complex issue and if you don’t have it top in your list of priorities, at least identify what is that one unifying message you want to communicate to everyone in your organisation. Is it your vision or will it be your mission? Will the communication be about company values or a company philosophy? At times large companies may even focus on one theme for every year.
It is this central message that will dictate how you approach your internal communication. More importantly what channels of communication you choose and what initiatives your curate.
2. Create opportunities for dialogue
Once the central message is identified; the next step would be to identify existing channels of communication; not just formal and informal. Strategise how you can tap into those channels to seed messages that further your cause. It is critical that at this stage you deploy various forms of communication from face to face, posters, mailers, etc. You might even have to establish new channels for communication – such as events or off sites.
Such initiatives promote transparency and ensures everyone is on the same page. A 2012 study published in BMC Public Health showed that when employees are allowed to discuss with each other what goes on in their lives outside of the office — from hobbies to family — with other employees, they will feel like they’re bonding. With this comes reduced stress levels and a reduced likelihood that these employees will burn out at the office.
Initiative where collaborative synergy are encouraged makes way for peer-to-peer learning as well. Employees who come from varied backgrounds can share their experiences at various forums with each other and collaborative learning is promoted. Having a schedule for such sessions so that it is done systematically, regularly and without affecting your work.
3. Establish channels to listen more often
As little as only 12% of the employees believe that their employers genuinely listen to them or care about them, according to a research by Maritz Research. Let this not be the case in your company. And it’s each one’s responsibility to contribute their part towards it.
But merely saying this is not enough. Create various platforms or channels for facilitating this dialogue. There should be a way in which the employee can convey feedback about a work related matter or concern without feeling threatened about their job. Various approaches can be looked at from forming employee forums, to anonymous feedback, to formal committees, to detailed policies.
The success of an internal communications strategy rests on how much employees are heard and what actions are taken based on their feedback. The feeling of being heard and then implementation of a fair solution is the altimeter of the success of your internal communication.
By aligning what you want to communicate to the employee and factoring in what the employee wants to say to you whilst promoting employee bonding will help build a supportive workplace that people don’t quit easily.
The workplace is not a space to picnic or facilitate bonding; but without bonding, in the long run, the organisation will suffer at the hands of poor productivity. Having a strong internal communication strategy is as important as having a marketing strategy. It helps in increasing the overall productivity, reducing attrition rate, keeping the employees motivated and keeping their morale high. And a team that feels good translates into a business that performs better.
At Yellow Spark, we help you identify these channels and methods of facilitating your internal communications. We help you with customised strategies and detailed structure on how you can build your team and increase your employee productivity significantly. Write to us and initiate a discussion with us – firstname.lastname@example.org
Author Profile: Aparna Joshi Khandwala is a passionate HR professional. She co-founded Yellow Spark to work with like-minded people who believe in the power of leadership, which is the only business differentiator in today’s time.