Time & Attendance
By Gabriella Fundaro
Apr. 7, 2023
An effective internal communications strategy is to your employees like a lighthouse in the middle of a storm: a beacon of light that they can follow even in the midst of unexpected obstacles and turbulence. They can stay focused on the task at hand to overcome any challenges and arrive safely back at port — or, in your company’s case, to seamlessly reach the goals you collectively set out to achieve.
But fragmented communications and radio silence from leadership can make employees feel lost and uninformed. They might not be prepared to face challenges head-on and effectively meet business needs. And, most importantly, they might lack the confidence and the desire to keep pushing forward if they feel like they’re not getting clear directions from company leadership. One study found that 85% of employees say they’re most motivated in their roles when management offers regular updates on company news.
Internal communication mistakes can also lead to low morale, reduced productivity, and increased employee turnover. If you’re using outdated communication methods or ignoring employee feedback about the way your organization communicates, you might already be suffering these consequences.
And if you don’t have an internal communications plan at all, you’ll want to get one in place so your workers can receive regular insights from your senior management team, understand the company mission and goals, and send dynamic updates about their own availability. Because technology is the linchpin of internal comms in today’s digital-first working world, you’ll need to make sure you’re implementing these tools in your employee communication.
Some employees may feel comfortable asking questions over the phone or via a messaging tool, but others prefer to communicate face-to-face. The same truth holds for workplace conversations, from asking about your PTO or health care benefits to reporting harassment. Don’t assume that “young people” prefer digital communication and “older people” prefer in-person conversations. Employees don’t fit into cliched stereotypes like that, and some will need to have in-person conversations about certain topics.
Still, digital, mobile-enabled communication is one of the key tools to keep an organization’s strategy from being outdated. For instance, in today’s hybrid, digital-first work environments, many employees prefer collaborative platforms to support their communication goals and needs. At least one-third of business users would choose Slack or Microsoft Teams over a traditional channel like email. And for hourly workers, dynamic, real-time communication is often needed to stay up-to-date on schedules and shift openings.
Give employees options, and make sure that one of the options is a communication tool that allows employees an easy, convenient way to reach out privately to their employer — and their teammates — at any time. Your communication tools should make it easy for workers to communicate with each other and their managers about shift changes, availability, task management, and other updates.
Whether a natural disaster, PR mishap, or global pandemic, crises are a time when employers especially need an action plan to stay on top of internal communications.
For example, with natural disasters like winter storms and hurricanes — which may disrupt an employee’s commute or comfort level of going into work at all — organizations can communicate with employees through corporate social media channels, mobile communication platforms, or even simple phone trees to keep everyone in the loop. For employees who have to work remotely following the aftermath of a storm or other crisis, workplace communication that keeps them updated on the facts and that shows sympathy for the struggles they’re going through will be appreciated. That’s important for managing your company culture through difficult times.
This is another situation in which internal communication tools will benefit employers and employees. Managers can give employees time-sensitive updates as soon as possible — and post them more frequently. Employees can reach out to their managers to ask about projects they’re working on and shifts they want to pick up to stay informed about quickly changing priorities and plans.
It’s also really key to offer your workers the opportunity to give feedback about your crisis communications plan. Harvard Business Review writes, “Organizational leaders must communicate the channels available to offer feedback and should emphasize how much they care about hearing from employees at all levels.” Consider creating an anonymous channel for employees to leave their thoughts and make it clear that they can reach out to HR and their supervisor if they want to talk.
Of course, even outside of pandemics or blizzards, it’s commonplace for employees to work remotely or hybrid. And more effort to communicate is required to help remote workers feel connected with the rest of the team.
According to previous Workforce coverage, people are most engaged when their jobs provide them with a sense of autonomy, purpose, and mastery. Autonomy means they are able to work according to their own schedule and the way they like to work. There’s no micromanagement, provided deadlines and key performance indicators (KPIs) are met. Purpose means feeling that the work they do matters and that they’re aligned with the values of the organization. Mastery means performing high-quality work and improving every day.
This is a good thing for managers. They don’t need to overdo their digital communication with remote workers, lest they micromanage. Rather, what managers can do to engage remote workers is let them know what is expected and provide them with clear initiatives and timelines so they know what success looks like. Clear, direct communication is appreciated in this case, and an easy-to-use digital solution is an effective way to keep these conversations with remote workers going.
Employees must manage a steady stream of virtual messages, from emails to instant messages and pings from project management and shift scheduling apps. It’s easy to get bogged down by this never-ending flood of information. As helpful as technology can be in a good internal communications strategy, the possibility of overdoing it to the point where employees can’t check all their messages in a timely manner is very real.
Employees can work on their time management skills. That might mean shutting down their email or messaging apps while they work on time-consuming tasks to avoid getting distracted by a deluge of notifications. You could also create some type of request system so that people know when to come to them with tasks (or when notifications are muted for deep work), how much notice they need, and a timeframe to complete it. Your internal communication processes should be designed to inspire deeper collaboration and clear up basic questions instead of creating more.
Employers, meanwhile, can address this information overload by being strategic about how they share information and company announcements. Coordinating schedules and plans, sending out announcements, and receiving automatic updates on shift tasks can all be done through one workforce management platform.
Keep messages brief by finding a digital tool that eliminates manual scheduling via phone calls and texts. Most importantly, listen to employee feedback if communication processes are getting overwhelming.
It might seem natural to take a top-down approach to your internal communications strategy, dishing out company-wide news to employees in a weekly newsletter and soliciting feedback only in a quarterly survey. But true communication is a two-way street. As much as your employees need to hear from leadership about business goals, direction, and updates, company leaders should keep up to date with employees.
What are their career aspirations? Are individuals and departments on track to reach business objectives? An effective IC strategy, powered by collaborative tools and practices, will enable you to listen to employees on key issues and measure their feedback. Together, you can work towards company goals, improve processes, and raise productivity.
Whether you have a mostly remote workforce or a storefront full of shift workers, Workforce.com can help. Its employee communications feature allows managers to share company or team announcements, send important documents, and give feedback to employees — all with the convenience of using your own mobile device.
Book a call today to find out more about how you can boost your workforce’s internal communication strategy.
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