Workplace Culture

How to use technology in your internal communications strategy

By Andie Burjek

Apr. 25, 2020

Even before a global pandemic shined a spotlight on the importance of digital communication, the workplace communications landscape was constantly changing with the latest virtual communication trends. Some employers turned to artificially intelligent bots to answer commonly asked employee questions. Texting emerged as means for recruiters to have conversations with potential employees. Employees began to rely more on instant messaging to communicate rather than email.

That being said, using technology in workplace communications isn’t necessarily as simple as download a tool and watch the dominos fall perfectly. Just as with face-to-face conversations, there may be opportunities for misunderstandings. Also, just as with any other tool, people need to know how to use virtual communication correctly.

There are many common internal communications mistakes organizations make that can have negative effects on business including low morale, reduced productivity and increased turnover. These mistakes include using outdated communication methods, not having an employee communications strategy and not collecting or listening to employee feedback. 

For those organizations who don’t yet have an internal communications strategy, here are some tips on how to use technology in a modern internal communications strategy.

Offer a variety of communications channels: 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Still, digital, mobile-enabled communication is one of the key tools to keep an organization’s strategy from being outdated. Give employees options, and make sure that one of the options is a communication tool which allows employees an easy, convenient way to reach out to their employer at any time. 

Consider how you will communicate in response to a crisis: Whether a natural disaster, workplace shooting or global pandemic, crises are a time when employers especially need to be 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, workplace communication that keeps them updated on the facts and that shows sympathy for the struggles they’re going through will be appreciated. 

This is another situation in which mobile communication solutions will benefit employers and employees. Managers can give employees time-sensitive updates as soon as possible, and employees can reach out to their managers to ask about projects they’re working on. Similarly, as a Deloitte study suggested, organizations can set up internal channels on their communication platform to give employees an opportunity to provide feedback on how the organization is handling the crisis.

How to use technology in your internal communications strategy

Keep remote teams engaged: Of course, even outside of pandemics or huge blizzards, employees work remotely. And more effort to communicate is required to make individuals working remotely feel connected with the overall organization. 

According to previous Workforce coverage, people are most engaged when they have autonomy, purpose and mastery at work. Autonomy means they are able to work according to their own schedule and the way they like to work, free of micromanagement provided deadlines and goals are met. Purpose means feeling that the work they do matters and that they are aligned with the values of the organization. Mastery means being able to do high quality work and improve 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 quality is expected and provide them with clear goals 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. 

Watch out for digital overload: Employees must manage a steady stream of virtual messages, from emails to instant messages and beyond. It’s easy to get bogged down by this never-ending flood of information. As helpful as technology can be in a 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 the companywide messaging platform while they work on time-consuming tasks to avoid getting distracted by a deluge of messages. That might also mean creating some type of request system so that people know when to come to them with tasks how much notice they need and how long it will take.  

Employers, meanwhile, can address this information overload by being strategic about how they share company information. They don’t need to make messages longer or more complicated than they need to be, and they should listen to employee feedback on how they can improve their process. 

Whether you have a mostly remote workforce or an office full of employees, Workforce.com can help. Its mobile Workforce Chat function allows managers to communicate with team members or other managers, share company or team updates, send files with employees who need them and give feedback to employees — all with the convenience of using your own mobile device. 

Andie Burjek is an associate editor at Workforce.com.

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