Too often, internal communications are characterized by overabundance: too many emails, reports, and meetings.
Well-meaning IC teams can overload employees with so much information that they have trouble finding and remembering what they need to know—if they even bother to read the material in the first place.
Recently, Francis Forte, employee engagement lead at Nicklaus Children’s Health System, and Victoria Mijares, employee communications and events specialist for Nicklaus Children’s Health System, shared how they improved their organization’s internal communications.
They offered the following tips for prioritizing internal messaging.
Have a clearly defined plan that you believe in—and implement it consistently
If your IC team’s strategy is less than effective, you might need a different plan. Talk to employees to find out which communications pieces they’ve received and what they can actually remember from them.
Also, ask about their communications preferences—email or mobile? text or paper? Then use this information to guide your IC plan.
For the IC team at Nicklaus Children’s Health System, their conversations with employees revealed that they wanted to be able to access information quickly, in easily digestible bites, while they were on the go. They also wanted to be able to easily find deadlines, reminders, and other important information in one centralized location.
And, finally, they wanted the ability to comment, ask questions, and interact with their colleagues and company leadership.
Using this information, the IC team created a plan that includes the following components:
- A mobile-friendly weekly newsletter with everything employees need to know that week;
- Targeted emails and text messages for urgent or timely notices, such as office closures due to hurricanes;
- An intranet portal that houses all employee news, events, forms, calendars, and more in a central location;
- Quick daily or weekly team huddles, where teams give brief status reports, relay important information and deadlines, and recognize or thank colleagues for their help; and
- Monthly town hall meetings, where company leadership gives updates and answers employee questions.
Implementing a comprehensive strategy like this could greatly improve your effectiveness, but your IC team needs to really buy into the plan and implement it consistently.
For example, it could seem counterintuitive to go from sending many specific emails to just one per week, and you might worry that employees will miss important information.
But recent data shows that the average office worker receives 121 business emails per day. If your employees have expressed that they’re overwhelmed by emails—and your data confirms that they’re not engaging with your messaging—they’re probably missing quite a bit of information as it is.
So, commit to your plan, work with other departments and company leaders to get on board, and be discerning about what information is truly urgent and what can wait for the next newsletter or be communicated in a team huddle.
Incentivize employees to actually read and engage with your materials
Okay, so you’ve got a solid IC plan; now you’ll want to go a step further with features and techniques that motivate your employees to engage with your communications materials.
A simple but effective method is to use personalized, catchy, and specific subject lines in emails. A subject line like “Amy—quarterly deadlines” or “Juan—next week’s schedule” will stand out and prompt an employee to read the email.
Embedding emails and newsletters with videos and photo albums can make them more dynamic and drive employee interaction.
In addition, giving employees opportunities to provide feedback—for example, by liking and commenting on articles and videos—can increase engagement.
Many people love to comment on media, whether they agree with the author, have questions, or want to present an opposing viewpoint. What’s more, these comments can give your IC team more feedback about what types of material are resonating with employees.
A really fun and effective way to increase engagement is by using gamification—contests, giveaways, and friendly competition.
Adding a brainteaser to your newsletter can get people talking, and offering prizes can be a great way to get employees to read—and really pay attention to—a less-than-enthralling policy or manual.
Finally, encourage employees to opt in to and use the different communications platforms available by reminding them of the value these offers.
For example, the IC team at Nicklaus Children’s Health System highlighted the benefits of their proprietary employee application, iCreate, and their text messaging platform, EZ Texting, to drive participation.
Use metrics and measurements to track your effectiveness and look for ways to improve
A final suggestion for prioritizing internal communications is to gather data about their usefulness and use that to adjust, correct, or continue your efforts. You’ll need to demonstrate to leadership the value your plan is adding to the company.
You can use Poppulo’s reports to gauge the effectiveness of your communications efforts and how they drove employee engagement. Their reports go beyond click-through rates to tell you the activity of an individual employee, a specific department, or the company as a whole.
For example, the “click map” report gives the exact number of people who clicked on each section of a newsletter or report, which can help you map out the next edition.
You can also use industry standards reports to compare your company to others—or benchmark against yourself by asking questions like Where were we last year? What are we doing to improve?
Examine participation rates to determine how effective your platforms are. Most employees of Nicklaus Children’s Health System had reported that they did not want to receive text messages, yet 94% of employees are enrolled in the EZ Texting service.
This high participation rate might be surprising given the employees’ earlier feedback, but it makes sense given the value the service provides and the judicious way it is employed.
The IC team listened to employees and respects their wishes, using the service only when absolutely necessary to provide urgent or timely messages. This keeps employees from wanting to opt out.
Additionally, more than 50% of employees have downloaded the iCreate app. The IC team is looking at ways to improve that number by adding new features, and they expect use to increase accordingly.
But for now, they can point to the data that show that iCreate has helped to triple the number of employee recognitions in a year, so it is already proving to be a valuable component in the IC strategy.
Finally, continue the cycle by going back to employees for additional feedback. Talk to them about what’s working, what’s failing to engage them, what’s is frustrating them, and why they’re not participating in certain platforms.
Then use that information to adjust your current offerings and drive your next campaign.
As Francis Forte said, “Communications is an ongoing improvement project. Every time we think we’ve hit something that helps us improve the way we communicate, we find there are opportunities to improve it even more.”
If you’d like to learn more, check out Francis and Victoria’s Poppulo webinar How Nicklaus Children’s Health System transformed their internal communications to create a winning IC strategy.