The Insiders’ Guide to Employee Communications

By Poppulo

Table of Contents

Turning employee communication challenges into opportunities

Ensuring your organization has a great internal communications function is not without its challenges. But what if we were able to take these challenges and not only find solutions but create opportunities out of them? We explore how to do just that.

Challenge Nº1

There’s a lot of pressure on internal communications to show its impact on the business. How can we do that?

Opportunity: Show results with data that is meaningful and digestible. What’s measurable isn’t always meaningful and what’s meaningful isn’t always measurable. Look at what is driving the business and present it in a digestible format for our leaders. To do this, we need to speak the language of leadership.

Challenge Nº2

How can we successfully provide guidance to others?

Opportunity: Know your audience. Track what is most successful. It sounds simple, but if you don’t have the data to track what is most successful, it is very hard to provide any sort of guidance to other people.

When I opened a recent meeting to introduce our CEO, we weren’t receiving employee questions. What I did was I asked every employee to take out their phone and save a certain phone number into their phone. It happens to be my cell phone number. This worked very well to receive employee questions… It was a great way for employees to engage and a way for them to communicate through a way that was transparent and that they could trust. The team actually tracked the type of messages we were receiving and the open rate.

– Kris Pugsley, Senior Global Communications & Change Management Strategist, ON Semiconductor

Challenge Nº3

How can we best use data?

Opportunity: Use data to drive decisions rather than defend decisions. Most of us as communicators fall into a trap of often using our data to defend ourselves rather than drive future results.

Challenge Nº4

How can we meet the increased need to have stronger internal branding?

Opportunity: Our communications, PR and HR teams need to put together integrated messaging in a way we haven’t had to do before. Some of that message needs to reinforce the employee value proposition once again. We need to clearly demonstrate an authentic commitment to diversity.

We need to show employees that we are acting as responsible corporate citizens in the communities where we work. Above all we really need to make sure our messages are credible. If our messages aren’t deemed authentic, our employees are going to disregard them out of hand.

Personalizing some of our stories and the way we introduce ourselves in our companies does have a tremendous impact on our internal brand as well as how our companies are viewed externally. A few years ago, when our team started to grow and build, we expanded our newsletter from a four to five-page newsletter that did not have a specific cadence for publication to a monthly publication. The newsletter is now published once a month and it is 20 pages. What we like to do is make sure we are engaging our global workforce and that the participation, article submission and photos we publish come from throughout the organization.

– Kris Pugsley

Challenge Nº5

Video is growing and so has the expectation of it. How can you grow the use of video in internal communications?

Opportunity: Videos need to be authentic, they need to be short, and they need to be embedded in other news feeds. Video was once seen as a support to other communications, but increasingly it’s becoming a primary channel.

The key is authenticity. The old days of producing slick corporate videos at $1,000 a minute used to work out well. But they are no longer resonating with employees. What was considered short ten years ago is too long now and it’s just getting shorter and shorter. Embedding those videos as part of other news feeds rather than separate stand alones is the direction that we are headed,

– Kris Pugsley

Challenge Nº6

Not everyone is hopping on the bandwagon of employee social networking – how can we drive adoption?

Opportunity: Many organizational leaders may not see the value of enterprise social networks and are therefore a little reluctant to invest their time or money into them. Many internal communicators perhaps don’t see their role as being a facilitator: we’re used to being the controller of messaging and the people who disseminate messages and maybe we’re a little reluctant to jump on this bandwagon as well. As mobile communication technologies continue to grow, however, the demands of work will eventually force organizations to embrace employee social networks as a way to collaborate. Most people entering the workforce communicate like this in their personal lives and they see no reason why they shouldn’t continue to communicate in such a fashion when they join the workforce.

If leadership doesn’t see the value of internal social networks, I would say to them to change their mind. Sometimes it takes time but I think a great deal of this has to do with the way we market and position products, as there can be assumptions about how these tools will be used.

– Paul Barton, Paul Barton Communications

Challenge Nº7

Which metrics do senior leaders most value?

Opportunity: Senior leaders want to know what employees are looking at, but also want to understand their comprehension or retention of that material. Therefore, engagement is the metric that senior leaders care about most.

How can we get feedback on engagement? Many companies do small working sessions and visits at different sites. They get a small group of perhaps 10 employees together to provide feedback. It’s also a way to take a look at whether or not your messaging is understandable and relatable by that population.

This section is based on a Poppulo webinar with Paul Barton of Barton Communications and Kris Pugsley of OM Semiconductor: Internal Communication's top challenges bring new opportunities for action.

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