Millennials spend six hours on social media every week – and Generation X spend seven!
Facebook alone has 1.86 billion users and ¾ of them log in daily to see, “like,” comment, and share photos of their friends and trending news. 62% of American adults get news from social media – 44% get it from Facebook specifically.
Wouldn’t it be nice if your employees interacted with your internal comms to that enthusiastic extent?!
While some companies resist or restrain social media use for fear of inappropriate or counterproductive use, recently, many organizations have began to adopt a more open type of communication as they flatten hierarchy for increased agility and innovation.
Even if you’re tired of hearing about “breaking down silos” between departments and consider “transparency” and “collaboration” to be buzzwords, you can’t argue good communication is both challenging and important for organizational success – and the challenge and importance only grow as the organization does.
You may even think social software is “so last decade” when it was called “Enterprise 2.0” in correspondence with Web 2.0 components like wikis and blogs. This built on Enterprise 1.0, which comprised systems of record like document management, transactional applications, and of course email.
Now more than ever, as the demands of geographically dispersed mobile employees combine with the supply of smartphones and the cloud – now is the time for enterprise social applications.
Standard business communication
We have been trying to kill email for decades. It’s an endless stream of distractions flooding inboxes around the world. It sucks productivity and fuels stress.
Instead of CCing a bunch of people on email chains, forwarding messages, and still risking leaving people out, employees perform better when they can communicate in one place. Some workers may not even have company email addresses, so mobile apps anyone can download are much more accessible.
The traditional corporate intranet has been around since the 1990s, largely to publish corporate documents. Centralizing top-down communication has its benefits: messages can be coordinated for strategic timing and a polished united front for the organization.
But people zone out when corporate messages are too professional and too vague. Employees ignore empty words filtered through corporate communications professionals and senior leadership, so they avoid the intranet and delete emails.
They want to get the real story from real people in real time.
Internal communications’ function is to help leaders in your Department or Agency inform and engage employees, in a way which motivates staff to maximise their performance and deliver the business strategy most effectively. It is not about “sending out stuff.”
– Russell Grossman, Head of Profession for Internal Communications, Government Communication Service
Modern internal communication
These days, internal communication professionals have much higher priorities than distributing information, primarily:
- Facilitating the understanding of business goals and strategic decisions
- Helping to increase levels of employee engagement
Yet, only 12% of communications teams believe their strategic plans are good at supporting their company’s top priorities. Their biggest obstacles for those priorities are line management’s lack of communication skills and internal technology’s misfit with purpose.
Many companies now have social platforms for internal communication meant to engage employees in the conversation. Like Facebook, social means employees can react and interact by sharing and commenting. It’s basically a two way conversation that is meant to continuously engage the employee and provide leadership with real-time feedback from their workforce.
To be effective, communication solutions need to be be simple, engaging, and suited to the organization and its people. The excitement of receiving a new piece of software, supposed to revolutionise the way employees communicate, will quickly evaporate if it turns out the so called “solution” is actually very difficult to use. Any employee should have access at any time on any device to many channels for different preferences and needs.
For example, you might have official announcement notifications, on-demand courses, specialized library documents, interactive checklists, targeted surveys, and fun group chats – all in one place.
How to apply
- Define your objectives, such as:
- Change culture/behavior
- Retain talent
- Engage employees
- Increase innovation
- Develop your internal communications strategy to address communication gaps preventing behaviors necessary to achieve business goals.
- Understand your audience segments, i.e. C-suite, managers, frontline workers, volunteers, remote employees, contractors, and other stakeholders. Focus on the segments who would benefit the most from collaboration.
- Invest in the channels that shape your culture and drive business results, such as:
- Blog or podcast
- Surveys/ polls
- Desk-drop or desktop wallpaper/ screensaver
- Instant messaging or text messaging
- Team meeting, conference, or town hall
- Gamification, gimmicks, or accessories
- Phone call/ voice mail or home delivered mail
- Choose the format to best deliver the messages, whether it be a cascade, crowdsourcing, storytelling, celebration, collaboration, digital, print, or face-to-face.
- Regularly measure and adapt strategy and tactics based on metrics like surveys and focus groups; platform analytics (views, downloads, comments); and, qualitative and quantitative performance indicators.