Gallup says that communication is often the basis of any healthy relationship — including the one between an employee and their manager. Over the last two years, the pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of healthy communication within an organization.
As companies shift to hybrid work setups, managers need to adjust how they communicate with employees and peers. We’ve been seeing more and more of our own customers in various industries deploy new internal communication strategies to better engage staff and adapt to new expectations.
It became apparent that effective internal communication within an organization is vital to ensure a team delivers its tasks and stays true to its purpose. Alvernia University says that internal communication can be viewed as the “interdisciplinary management function integrating elements of human resources management, communication, and marketing.” We saw this firsthand as our clients embraced new tools and strategies to ensure that their employees still feel their company culture during the new normal.
Our customer community’s experiences revealed that the process of achieving effective communication varies per organization, depending on what matters most to the company and its employees. Below, we share some of the different concerns and needs of today’s employees when it comes to internal communications, and how organizations can address them.
The rising popularity of digital communication tools
With face-to-face meetings now reducing or even disappearing in some cases, organizations are embracing digital tools to keep communication lines open between employees and managers offsite.
As many organizations shifted to virtual meetings instead of physical ones during the pandemic, video call platforms became more popular. To keep employees engaged remotely, these platforms now have features that encourage casual conversations among visitors, like the creation of virtual rooms or interactive polls.
Messaging apps have become a top choice for quick conversations and check-ins with team members. Lorissa Horton of Cisco says status bars in messaging apps are now helpful during the hybrid work setup, as they allow team members to see who is available for a “quick vent or brainstorm.”
Despite the rising popularity of video call platforms and messaging apps, most organizations still use email as their primary communication tool. In a survey we conducted with 165 employees worldwide, 98% say email is the tool their companies rely on for internal communications.
The struggles of going digital
While digital communications tools have become more popular, our survey revealed that not everyone is on board with their widespread use.
Emails may be popular for managers, but they can be a pain point for most workers. Some say emails are “poorly targeted” and do a poor job of keeping them engaged. One employee surveyed even says that sometimes digital newsletters “are not nice to look at and the information in them could be a lot clearer.” . The company emails also sometimes lead employees to waste their time, as they find it difficult to find information that’s relevant to their work. Some employees also say that not knowing whether recipients actually read the emails they send is frustrating.
In the case of video call platforms and messaging apps, many have expressed fatigue due to their overuse in workplaces. Our survey also revealed that some workers even prefer calls over messaging apps, as the latter can have issues that prevent them from getting work done.
What matters in creating an internal communication strategy
So what should managers keep in mind when crafting an internal communications strategy?
Most employees we surveyed say that what’s most important for them is that the information deployed by management is “clear and concise” and allows them to “get on with their job.” Communication tools must be accessible and easy to use, wherever employees may be. An application that can be accessed either through mobile or desktop is needed so workers on the move or on the frontlines can stay connected with peers. In the same vein, managers may easily interact with employees for better alignment of tasks and expectations.
LiveTiles Reach is an employee experience platform that allows this strategy to be deployed. It allows communication from the bottom-up, enabling the inclusion of frontline workers to be in touch with those in the headquarters. The platform provides a private messaging option and a channel-based communication function in one space.
A targeted messaging option also allows more structured information dissemination, giving employees a summarized and personalized look at what they need to know at any given time. Specialists say this gives employees a better understanding of what employers expect from them, and what they in turn can expect from their managers.
A direct line between managers and employees— and even among peers — can also foster engagement in the workplace. As Gallup says: “great managers don’t just tell employees what’s expected of them and leave it at that; instead, they frequently talk with employees about their responsibilities and progress.” They find that employees are 2.8 times likelier to be engaged at work when they regularly talk to their manager about such matters.
Building a sense of community within an organization is also important for greater engagement among employees. LiveTiles Reach’s ability to be integrated with other workplace digital tools like Microsoft Teams is helpful in this case. Cross-integration is needed to allow seamless collaboration among different departments. McKinsey also reports that improved communication and collaboration through social technologies can raise the productivity and interaction of workers by 20 to 25 percent.
These strategies emphasize that treating employees like customers can deliver better returns for business. This can only be done if communication among staff is clear, unobstructed, and effective. The most effective internal communications strategy is one that allows teams to deliver, engage, and thrive.