The role of internal communications (IC) in the workplace has steadily evolved to serve the changing needs of companies and their employees.
The pandemic created the single-biggest opportunity I’ve seen for IC to shine, solidifying its value as a critical resource and proving to be the glue that can hold many companies together. As the prevalence of remote work continues to rise, the IC function will likely play a pivotal role that helps connect employees to companies.
Savvy business leaders recognize that strategic communication practices that prioritize their employees can dramatically impact business results.
Connect people and information.
When leaders take the necessary steps to establish IC best practices, they are connecting people and information to help ensure a unified focus that provides a positive employee experience and impacts numerous business operations. While the role of IC is to share company information so employees can best perform their jobs, IC should also facilitate an effective flow of communication between leadership, departments, teams and co-workers, both vertically and horizontally, to keep the workforce informed and aligned to achieve corporate goals.
Organizations should establish IC practices based on the appropriate manner, cadence and resources for optimal results. Based on the subject matter and the desired result of the communication, evaluate the best communication channel for the message. For example, while intranet, email, social media, video conferencing and in-person chats are ways to share information with employees, consider which format is going to resonate best with employees to accomplish the communication objective. When people are connected to each other and to important company information, there are positive impacts on morale, culture and performance.
Boost employee engagement.
When companies incorporate IC best practices into their operations, it can boost employee engagement, improving employee performance, customer service, employee/client retention and overall well-being. According to a Gallup study, U.S. employee engagement dropped from 36% in 2020 to 34% in early 2022—the first drop in a decade—demonstrating an opportunity for strategic IC. For employees to remain engaged and perform at their best, they must understand the company’s overall strategy and how the important work they do fits into the bigger picture. When leaders communicate their vision and share the company’s mission, values and goals with the workforce, it creates a sense of ownership among employees that could lead to increased levels of engagement and discretionary effort. This could, in turn, help improve performance and reduce turnover, which can be costly for businesses. In addition, through effective communication, employees gain a better understanding of how their role impacts the company and aligns with the greater good, encouraging employee engagement that affects performance, client interactions, retention and culture.
Amplify employee voices.
When companies implement IC methods that offer employees an opportunity to amplify their voices, they are building a platform of trust and two-way communication that supports various areas of the business, including attracting and retaining top talent, supporting creativity and innovation and designing and nurturing a great culture. When companies identify ways for employees to contribute to conversations, it encourages them to share their needs and concerns while giving managers an opportunity to demonstrate empathy and support for employees.
Two-way communication solicited via daily check-ins, emails, team meetings and performance reviews is important for managers and employees to remain connected and on the same page, especially in remote and hybrid work models. Routine employee surveys can help companies keep a pulse on employee sentiments and engagement. The insights gained can help identify any information gaps or concerns so that company leadership can address or make changes.
I’m seeing more employee advocacy, so proactive employers who offer communication methods for employees to express their opinions will likely stand out in the crowd. When employers create a safe environment for employees to amplify their voices, they will reap the rewards in many areas of the business.
Managers play a key role in a company’s success because they serve as vital links for frontline employees who are the face of the company; therefore, it is critical that they distribute relevant and timely information to their teams. When companies practice consistent communications that inform managers about organizational goals, new initiatives and results, it equips them to more effectively manage their teams and bring alignment that mirrors the organization’s mission, values and objectives.
Training managers on soft and hard skills necessary to lead their teams is one of the most important functions of IC, which could have an impact on employee retention. When companies take care of their people by positioning internal communications as a strategic function that connects people and information, boosts employee engagement, amplifies employee voices and equips managers, it can lead to sustained success.