The hallmarks of world-class employee communications
In a world of constant change and unpredictability, getting employee communications right is more important than ever. But in the post-COVID workplace, much has changed, and the blueprint for best-in-class employee communications looks different from how it did a few years ago. To help you assess whether your internal comms strategy is keeping pace with emerging demands, we’ve pulled together eight hallmarks of world-class employee comms.
Adapting employee communications for the reimagined workplace
Over the last years, we’ve seen workplaces transform beyond our wildest imaginations. The rise of hybrid and remote working models has forced a rethink of how and where work happens. Gen-Z has firmly entered the workplace, bringing with them new demands on their employers. Mass resignations and redundancies are reshuffling the talent pool, forcing businesses everywhere to double down on attracting, retaining, and upskilling their workforce. Meanwhile, economic downturn is set to throw further curve-balls.
Change is the only constant, and the impacts are being felt across every organizational function. Meanwhile, employee engagement hangs in the balance.
In this reimagined workplace, old tactics are falling short. Everyone is being asked to adapt to meet emerging demands, and employee comms are no different. In fact, with employee engagement levels now being closely monitored by leaders and investors alike, internal communicators are under increasing pressure to ensure their strategies are fit for the modern day.
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So, what does a world-class employee communications strategy look like in today’s workplace? Every business will have a unique approach to employee comms, but there are some hallmarks that set best-in-class approaches apart.
A new blueprint for world-class employee comms
Employee messaging standards have never been higher. In their personal lives, workers have grown accustomed to highly personalized communications that reach them on channels they prefer at a time that works for them. Outside of work, consumer platforms have shaped employee expectations of what a great digital experience looks like. Employees want Facebook-like social capabilities, Google-like search features, and Netflix-like recommendations. Keeping pace with these expectations requires a new approach to employee comms.
7 steps to futureproof your internal communications strategy
As leaders reimagine their world of work, it is internal communications that will lead the way in aligning the workforce against this vision. Future corporate communication strategies will be decidedly inclusive, agile, and digitalized. To succeed in this new era, internal communications teams will move towards an omnichannel approach that brings the consumer experience into the workplace.
While marketing campaigns have evolved, many employee messaging strategies continue to rely on dated mechanisms. Ultimately, that’s what differentiates world-class employee comms from other internal messaging approaches—world-class comms harness new innovations to ensure every message is targeted and employee-centric, while other strategies maintain an approach that’s more traditional and less personalized.
Here are some of the signs that your strategy is hitting the mark:
#1. Centralized and on-demand
Your employees' time is valuable. They have projects to finish and deadlines to meet. Yet, the average worker spends over three hours each day searching for information. While a standard comms strategy might not do much to reduce this time spend, world-class internal communicators take increasing efficiency into their own hands.
Savvy comms leaders ensure their organization has a central, digital platform that aggregates and curates content so users can access the information they’re looking for on-demand. To meet the standard that employees have grown accustomed to in their personal lives, internal communicators will make sure that their platform has a Google-like search experience that unifies all content and data in one place, with filters and refiners to streamline search results.
#2. Formats are diverse and intentional
The days of email updates and printed newsletters are long gone. Today employee communications are diversifying to meet new expectations. Video and audio updates are becoming commonplace in a world where personality and authenticity are in high demand.
Text-heavy employee comms strategies don’t inspire engagement. So, world-class employee comms look to alternative media to bring company messaging to life. Video and audio are used intentionally to put faces and voices to communications, helping employees identify with spokespeople from around the organization.
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Increasingly we see large enterprises leaning into podcasting and video series to make regular company updates more palatable. For organizations with significant deskless workforces, these formats work particularly well.
#3. Comms meet employees where they are
Company blogs and emails are far from the only channels that internal communicators have at their disposal. A world-class employee comms strategy leverages every channel to meet employees where they are. With the intranet or employee experience platform acting as the de facto home for comms, push-pull tactics are used to notify colleagues of new, relevant content on the channels they prefer.
Whether it’s Teams, Slack, mobile push notifications, or e-newsletters, world-class employee communications ensure that every channel is leveraged to reach their employee-base. Audience preferences are carefully considered and documented to ensure that comms are disseminated on the right channel for the right people. Effective omnichannel strategies are underpinned by intelligent intranet technology that supports channel unification and simplifies targeting and audience segmentation.
How to choose the best intranet CMS for an omnichannel strategy
Selecting the right intranet CMS can feel daunting. As the need for omnichannel internal comms rises, so does the number of players on the scene. To choose the best option, leaders must prioritize a checklist of features and digest several key recommendations.
#4. Mobility is prioritized
The best employee comms strategies have mobile access at heart. In today’s flexible workplace, employees demand access to communications on-the-go. Getting mobile employee comms right can extend the reach of your communications beyond office and desk-based employees. Enterprises with large frontline workforces tend to prioritize mobile comms platforms, but, increasingly, mobility is being demanded by the workforce at large. Employees should be able to check in on company news on their commutes, in between meetings, and on their breaks. An effective mobile comms strategy will optimize the format of comms to suit the device, meaning that video, audio, and digestible breakdowns fit for smaller screens will be more commonplace.
Often enterprises fall into the trap of assuming that they need a specific mobile comms app to reach their mobile-first users. In reality, this approach exacerbates workforce silos and incurs unnecessary spend. It’s better to have a comms platform that can deliver both mobile and desktop experiences so everyone in the organization reads from the same hymn sheet and connects in the same place. Targeted experiences can be created to optimize the experience for different devices. This means everyone enjoys the same quality of experience no matter how they choose to access comms.
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#5. Feedback is inbuilt
No leader can afford to overlook the importance of feedback, especially since employees who feel like their voice is heard at work are 5X more likely to feel empowered to perform their best. World-class employee comms includes several mechanisms for eliciting feedback, including comments, reactions, polls, pulse surveys, and quizzes.
Familiar social features immediately upgrade any employee comms experience by giving users the opportunity to actively participate in company communications. Simple features like the ability to react or comment on content give employee comms a Facebook-like feel, while the ability to #hashtag and @mention help to build buzz and extend the reach of comms.
Where social features help to drive engagement with comms, more intentional feedback mechanisms can give enterprise leaders important insights into the mood of the workforce. A world-class communicator will spend as much time listening as they do communicating. Feedback forms, pulse surveys, quizzes, and ideation portals help communicators tap into the zeitgeist, ensure understanding of communications, and unpick areas where further communication is needed.
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Two-way communications will be a hallmark of the new employee-employer relationship. Feedback has always been crucial, and it will only become more important as organizations refine their strategy for success in the new world of work. But how can you make sure every employee’s voice gets heard and how is your competition already ahead?
#6. Measured and goal-driven
Unlike some of their peers, world-class internal communicators never shy away from data. Instead, they understand that the secret to optimizing their messages is using analytics to build a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t—and adapt their strategies accordingly.
Instead of looking at traditional metrics like homepage visits, content views, and volume of social interaction, the best employee comms measurement models delve into the behaviors of different employee groups. Slicing and dicing data by employees from different geographies and departments helps build a more nuanced picture of how different employees are reacting to communications, where they like to receive communications, and what formats work best.
Influencing the organization with internal comms metrics
In 2023, internal communicators have a big opportunity to influence business change, with 83% reporting growing influence among the c-suite according to Gartner. But to bring real value to discussions, internal comms needs to solve the longstanding problem of turning data into insights. We’ve partnered with the Institute of Internal Communication to show you how to use your metrics to influence change in your organization.
A modern intranet or employee experience platform supports best-of-breed employee communicators to draw insights from their analytics. Here at Unily, we help our customers to contextualize their metrics with adoption reports that benchmark enterprise performance against customers from similar industries and geographies. Furthermore, our campaign functionality allows IC pros to set content goals that provide an at-a-glance look at how different content types are performing against KPIs.
#7. A campaign-mindset
World-class internal communicators don’t just send out an array of adhoc messages to see what sticks. Instead, they take a page from marketing’s playbook and create coordinated communications campaigns that are designed to build awareness over time.
Rather than overwhelming employees with constant messaging about a new initiative, world-class comms strategies build up to the big news and begin generating excitement about what’s coming next. With the right intranet platform, campaigns can be carefully structured, sequenced, and scheduled so that employees receive relevant content at appropriate times, through the channels they prefer.
Publishing calendars give communicators a bird’s eye view of what content is going out to whom and when. Overwhelming employees with lots of messages at once or underwhelming them with sporadic communications is negated when comms teams have a simple way of tracking upcoming content.
How to create marketing-grade internal comms campaigns
Are you noticing employee engagement levels slipping? Is communications fatigue sweeping through your workforce and do you feel like your critical messages are landing on deaf ears? It’s time to level up your strategy with marketing-grade campaigns that take internal communications further, faster.
#8. Comms harness automation
To truly embrace the campaign-mindset that sets world-class employee comms apart from the rest, comms teams need a platform that can automate an otherwise time-consuming process.
Automation capabilities give internal communicators the tools to execute complex, multi-channel, multi-asset comms campaigns. Content can be scheduled to disseminate at different times on different channels, and, most importantly, campaign performance can be measured easily with intelligent content goals and smart scores that give comms teams an at-a-glance view of how well different assets are performing.
One of the coolest things about campaign automation is the ability to automate re-engagement activities. Automatic nudges can be sent to employees that have yet to engage with content – whether that be watching an important video update, taking a quiz, leaving feedback, or completing a form.
Using automation, internal communicators can take employee comms to the next level. Just as marketers use automation to upgrade customer engagement with hyper-personalized, omnichannel campaigns, internal communicators are starting to use the same technology to bring consumer-grade experiences to the enterprise. With employee expectations only growing, automation is set to be the future of world-class employee comms.
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Launch your own world-class comms strategy with an employee experience platform
In our digital-first world, the technology you have dictates the success of your strategy. Without the right platform, comms teams are fighting an uphill battle to engage employees. To find out how a world-class employee experience platform could upgrade your employee comms, sign up for a demo today.
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