Internal communications teams do a lot of heavy lifting to support their organizations, acting as messengers with incomplete information and little time to control quality or frequency. As a result, many companies see their employees tune out.
What happens when someone is asked to speak in public without a prepared speech? They do their best to improvise—often with mixed results. For internal communications, this spontaneous, reactive dynamic creates messaging that’s received in the wrong context, sent through the wrong channels, and perceived as an afterthought.
Employees disengage, lack awareness of company policies and benefits, and opt out of enrollment. Some messages will never be convenient, but for the ones you already know about, there’s time to make a plan and win over the audience with relevance and reasons to believe.
Fine-tune comms quality.
Internal communications are a way to open dialogue with employees and add strategic value to their experience, so strike up a conversation. Don’t wait until open enrollment to share everything at once.
Think about ways to break down information about benefits and policies into deliberate, digestible communication. Be clear, and avoid jargon. Instead, tell a story about your employer brand to remind employees why their work (and workplace) has value. Give it structure: chapters to move the story forward all year long.
When the story is interactive and requires audience participation, make it simple! Provide a direct path to action so they know how to play their part.
Cover the greatest hits.
Brands have been teaching us for decades that the best way to motivate action is through a compelling story. They inspire, evoke emotion, and show value. This elevates the experience consumers have with their products and services into something magnetic.
Think about a brand such as Mastercard. It isn’t offering anything vastly different from any other credit card, and yet, “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard.” The company tapped into something bigger than a transaction—so should your internal communications:
- Strike an emotional chord. If you want them to listen to what you have to say, make them cry, cheer, understand, and take action by evoking an emotion.
- Remember: Less is more. If your message is magnetic, it will leave a lasting impact that does more for your audience than 30 memos could ever hope to accomplish. Focus on quality over quantity, and find the ideal frequency for your organization.
- Create a hook. The way something looks and feels is just as important as what it says. Can you make the message visual? Can you build a pattern into your story? Make it memorable. Make it fun. Give it replay value.
- Dial up championship. Build a brand for your employees to rally around. Build them into the story. What is their character arc? How can the message be relevant to their experience?
Adapt and evolve.
The more you tell your employer brand story, the better you’ll become at reading the audience’s reaction, improving your pacing, and recognizing what can be left out. It shouldn’t be filled with plot twists.
Shift the narrative so there are fewer surprises and more moments to remind the audience, “I love this part.” Empower your team with clear, bite-sized communication that meets them where they are. Engaged employees will be receptive to your messaging and take it further, rallying around your brand to create a culture of unexpected wins.
Relationships and identities evolve. The frequency of your internal communications should continuously adapt to meet the needs of your organization and employees. If things feel confusing and outdated, take a step back to assess why.
Change the channel.
The place where your message is received is as important as the message itself. Which communication channels are your employees using? Which are underused or ineffective? Are there new channels that would work better?
Internal communication channels don’t have to be exclusive. They each offer something different and can empower employees to engage with their preferred format. Focus on matching the right form of communication with its message and audience.
Digital channels offer flexibility and remote accessibility, while traditional channels, such as face-to-face meetings, enable direct Q&A sessions when needed.
Take it from the top.
Don’t underestimate the power of treating managers as a channel. When properly equipped, middle management can become the most effective communications voice in your entire organization.
There are plenty of creative opportunities—from staff meeting templates to manager-only messages—to empower heroic leadership in action. This contributes to collective responsibility over brand messages, and visible leadership participation in planning internal communications will drive successful outcomes.
Cut through the noise.
Channels are noisy, so your message needs to stand out. Make it memorable. Celebrate its values.
The best storytellers keep their audience members—and what they’re going through—in mind. What’s on the minds of your employees? How can you add value to their experiences? If you can answer those questions, make an effort to personalize connections. When your internal communications are relevant, employees will want to engage.
Start planning now.
Proactive planning for internal communications will relieve pressure from every moment when your organization needs to create reactive messaging. You already know what (most) communications will be about for the year. Build a plan for those benefit messages now so you can deviate later.
You’ll reap the benefits of employee retention and engagement while communicating the value of your benefits. Read How Elevated Internal Communications Strategies Lead to Employee Retention to get started.