With COVID-19 disrupting all your existing plans, Internal communications teams are now facing the challenge of catering to the workforce both, in the office, and at home. And while having employees work remotely has become the new norm, whether by choice or because of the circumstances, internal communication systems are now more important than ever.
Over the years, we’ve seen remote work as something beneficial in terms of flexibility in work arrangements. A survey by IWG Global Workplace of over 15,000 people across nations found that in Australia alone, 71% of businesses have flexible workspace policies and 74% of the workers consider flexible working to be the new normal.
As Gallup puts it, “job flexibility increases engagement.”
How can internal communications still cater to these expectations while facing the challenges in these trying times? How can you improve employee engagement? The need to manage this is important and constant.
Especially now, with drastic economic and health pressures, employees need assurances that they are well-informed and supported, in order for your workplace to maintain a positive and connected company culture.
This is where the importance of driving internal communication comes in.
Internal Comms – Why They Matter
In a nutshell, Internal Communications is how your organisation communicates information to your employees across all levels.
If you’re in the internal communications team, you’ll agree that your department is more functional, productive, and effective when you have the essential communication platforms and software that enable employees to work remotely, if needed.
Here’s why this matters:
At the end of the day, it’s what makes employees get things done, love what they do, and feel like they’re a crucial part of the organisation.
On top of conveying critical information, it helps steers clear of misinformation and miscommunication in the business. Surely no one in business communications would want a round of the telephone or email game that relays a completely different message at the other end.
So what do you do?
1. Make it easy to find the right person for the job
It can be a challenge for internal communications when knowledge and information sharing is difficult, even more so in a remote working environment when you can’t tap into essential communication skills like body language that are in play in a face-to-face environment.
You can overcome these challenges through a corporate directory on your intranet – a centralised hub that introduces employee collaboration and knowledge-sharing features that easy to use, once set up correctly. You can also make this a Skill Hub, where workers can share their skill sets and upskill if they want to.
Authorised personnel can sift through the company directory and get in touch with employees who can be champions in different areas.
You can engage employees in tasks that may involve video editing, or you may find one who can become your potential podcaster. Allowing workers the freedom to step out of their job descriptions is sometimes the best solution. All these skills deposited in your corporate directory add value to your organisation.
2. Facilitate comms deployment through mobile
Modern communication tools can support employees in their day to day management of tasks. But these tools don't have to be reserved for desktops.
In data provided by Tristate Technology, it shows that 71% of workers use mobile devices in accessing company information and 34% of work productivity is improved when companies allow employees to use enterprise mobile apps.
Consider providing accessibility of your content through mobile to allow your employees to access your intranet system from anywhere, using their mobile phones.
With push notifications, you can allow your employees to see important messages as a priority via their mobile phones.
3. Recognise daily wins, big or small
Many businesses resort to quarterly and yearly employee reviews. But this periodic nature and anticipation among employees may not be the best option for them. When you celebrate achievements on a regular basis, your workers feel appreciated and valued.
And subsequently, they are more likely to be engaged and empowered to work more.
Through your company intranet, you can engage in monthly, weekly, or even daily recognitions and share the good work among the entire organisation. Here are some ideas:
- Success stories
- Group recognition posts
- Wall of fame
- Creative award categories
- Actual voice or video appreciation from leaders
You can use a widget on your homepage to collect and showcase these or decentralise publishing to different departments so they can share news on the intranet.
4. 24/7 training options through eLearning
With social distancing and isolation, people are resorting to digital classrooms and eLearnings right now using online learning management systems.
It came as a no-brainer when Small Business Trends reported that 98% of all companies were planning to use eLearning in 2020. You don’t want to be left behind. Through eLearning options, you can provide good support and training for your employees.
As reported by eLearningIndustry.com, 40% of Fortune 500 companies use eLearning and 72% of organisations claim eLearning provides distinct competitive advantages. You too can set up a flow of eLearning materials so your employees can upskill with any spare time. This in turn can improve employee engagement.
5. Give feedback, listen to feedback
Effective communication, put simply, is two-way communication through the exchange of feedback. While it may be difficult for management to get face-to-face feedback from remote employees, you can keep in touch with what your workforce needs through easy-to-build surveys via online forms and workflow automation, polls, social Q&A and other tools.
Intranet social tools help to foster dialogue amongst workers, which in turn can inspire new and creative ideas. It might be easy to second guess what your employees want and need, but it’s best to steer clear of the possibility of misinterpretation here. Plus you want your employees to value the fact that their opinions and suggestions are heard.
6. Balance work-week by adding a sense of fun
While internal communications tackle critical company priorities, it’s refreshing to add a dose of fun to ease the stress between frequent meetings and serious daily goals. A culture of fun at work may be a source of entertainment and positivity for your employees.
In a blog released by Harvard Business Review, research shows that a fun culture and positive mindset drives productivity, creativity and engagement. You can use company intranet features to introduce weekly online games or use company photos for pop quizzes and trivia. This encourages workers to look forward to surprise treats after a hard week of work. Some Friday fun anyone?
Summing it up - improving internal communications doesn’t happen with a snap.
It is a constant hurdle, important for employee engagement and retention. Establish routines and follow set internal communication approaches and strategies. Even with developed organisations, it’s always good to look for creative and better ways to communicate.