If you don’t have an internal communications department then you are risking running a business with disengaged and unhappy employees.
Figures show that well planned and executed internal communications improve employee engagement and boosts workplace productivity. Therefore, even if you don’t have an internal communications department per se, you at least need to have certain staff taking care of internal communications and working from a robust internal communications strategy.
If you are not informing, listening to, engaging, and nurturing your employees, you could end up losing money, credibility, and respect.
$11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover
Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%. Don’t you think that it’s time we took internal communications a little more seriously? Given that 46% of the workforce will be millennials by 2020, and 49% of millennials support social tools for workplace collaboration.
People want to be engaged, noticed, respected, and listened to. Nobody wants to feel like another cog in the corporate machine.
Why Internal Communications Can’t be Ignored
There are a few key facts that prove the importance of professional internal communications within businesses.
Information Empowers Employees
With many of your current employees probably embracing social media and modern communication tools, they rely on mobile technology. They love to keep in touch with one another and to source the latest news from places that they can choose and trust. It makes perfect sense to offer a similar level of communication within your organization. By giving employees the opportunity to both be informed and be able to swiftly communicate with their colleagues and managers, you’re empowering them with trust and transparency from the top down.
Information Overload is Real
Information is everywhere these days, with the rise of fake news and general engineered propaganda, who can we really trust? If employees don’t have access to the right information easily, they may look elsewhere and find the wrong answers. Employees should be able to access a reliable source first. Hence the importance of internal communications in order to offer answers to questions with a level of urgency and immediacy when required.
Information Sharing is Crucial
The workforce is evolving. Baby boomers are aging out of the workforce, and millennials are taking their place. Internal communication is essential to retaining the invaluable knowledge the older workforce has, as well as communicating that information to the younger generation coming in. But more than that, internal communication can help employees from different departments understand each other better. Knowing how the company works as a whole and how you fit into it is beneficial to everyone.
Employee Engagement is Increasingly Important
Engaged employees work harder and stick around longer with their employers. Rather than run the risk of a large staff turnover and unhappy, disjointed teams, communicate, inform, commemorate, and engage with your workforce.
Internal Communication Platforms are Becoming Digital Workplaces
Internal communications platforms are becoming increasingly popular across the globe. They often use smooth interfaces and offer email/text/social media/video/voice integration. They are responsive and help employees not only to communicate, but to build stronger relationships between teams, collaborate across the globe, and choose how and when to communicate in a way that suits each individual.
So, what can you do if you don’t have a dedicated internal communications department?
Firstly, don’t let the absence of a dedicated department prevent you from having a robust internal communications strategy!
Ensuring that you create an internal communication plan is the first step in creating a chain of command by which your communications practices can streamline and channel through.
What are the messages that you want to convey to all employees? How will you achieve this? Who will be responsible for sending and collating such messages? How will employees respond? What is the best practice to ensure that all employees feel valued, engaged, and informed?
Next, you have a choice! Do you have a dedicated HR or PR department/person within your company? If so we know that both departments have core strengths in both internal and external communications. So, the choice is up to you whether or not to split the internal communications responsibilities across both departments, or ask one of them to take care of all internal communications management.
Human Resources and Internal Communications
There is one main thing that HR professionals and internal communicators have in common: their focus on employee engagement.
For HR professionals, their priority is the people — which is exactly who internal communication serves. It’s their job to bring out the best in employees.
They increase productivity, retain talent, offer career development opportunities and manage the organization’s employee brand. All of these things can be done better with a strong internal communication strategy.
Because of the common goal of employee engagement, many believe that IC duties fall nicely underneath the HR umbrella. But you’ll have to ask yourself — what is the specific goal of your internal communication?
Is it to improve your company culture? Is it to increase the proper utilization of benefits? To increase productivity? This will depend upon the organization.
PR Professionals and Internal Communications
Marketers know how to communicate a targeted message. They know how to write copy in an engaging, dynamic, attention grabbing way. The problem is, since marketing and public relations professionals are often used to addressing customers, it will require a shift in mindset toward the unique needs of an employee population.
What if you want the best of both worlds? Some companies have seen success merging IC responsibilities amongst HR and external communication professionals. Perhaps you can assign a portion of each department to work together on the project.
The most important thing to remember is to set clear expectations. Without a dedicated department, IC managers might feel spread thin and pulled in many different directions.
No matter who you choose to take on IC responsibilities, it will be harder to ensure that things are getting done unless they are given resources and held accountable.