7 Secrets to Creating an Effective Internal Communications Strategy (Plus Advice on How to Make It Happen)

If you think about how people consume information today, it's clear that there has been a significant shift from even a decade ago. Long gone are the days where reading a morning newspaper and watching the evening news were enough to satisfy a person's information needs. Now the demand for news and information is an around the clock endeavor, and that spells big challenges for Comms teams trying to build an internal communications strategy that effectively keeps employees up-to-date on important company information - without causing information overload.

So why is providing timely, relevant information such a challenge? Frankly, because there's just too much of it.

Given the wide variety of channels available for the dissemination of information in the corporate environment -- employee apps, email, intranet, social media, etc. -- communications teams often struggle if they don't have an effective way to appropriately filter content. In that case they're forced to send everything to everyone, inundating employees with irrelevant notifications that aren't meant for them and creating a recipe for disaster where eventually people start ignoring the messages altogether and important information gets missed.

While it's easy to blame the problem on information overload, Clay Shirky, NYU professor and media consultant, identified the true issue with incredible accuracy:

"It's not info overload, it's filter failure."

But what if things didn't need to be like that? What if you could seamlessly deliver just-in-time info, to only the people who need it, in a way that enabled employees to be more productive and happier at their jobs?

That dream can in fact become a reality for your organization with these seven secrets…

Secret 1: Align internal communications with consumer-like experiences

How people consume information has changed significantly over the years, which is reflected in the fact that social media now ranks as one of the most popular sources for news and information.

In this age of increasingly shorter attention spans, people want snack-sized bites of information that are easy to digest. They want their news fast and they want it now, whether they get it by asking a personal digital assistant like Alexa or by viewing it on sites they're already visiting for other reasons.

The more communications teams can provide information by meeting employees where they're already at (such as with an app), in a format that's easy to consume (no more of those lengthy memos from HR Karen), the more effectively those messages can be delivered and the happier employees will be with the interaction.

Secret 2: Customize the employee experience

With artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and mobile apps, personalization is now table stakes when it comes to communication, including in the corporate environment.

It's important to remember that ultimately, employees are your customers when it comes to internal communications. They expect the same levels of personalization they get in their consumer lives, such as the tailored recommendations they get from Spotify and Netflix or how their bank's home screen might make recommendations for appropriate financial products when they log in to online banking.

It's a high bar to meet but failing to meet these personalization expectations will likely lead to dissatisfaction and frustration. Some key ways you can start easily including personalization in internal communications includes using list segmentation to send only relevant data to employees (e.g. specific functional groups or geographies) and personalizing emails, both in the subject line and in the body of the email.

Secret 3: Chatbots

Chatbots are essentially computer programs designed to simulate conversation and their use is on the rise, for many good reasons.

For one thing, they significantly increase productivity because they simplify common and generally time-consuming tasks. For example, with chatbots employees can easily get answers to commonly asked questions or execute simple tasks, such as "what's my vacation balance?", or "clear my calendar for Friday." Chatbots are also easy and intuitive to use because they're designed to function like human interactions, plus they never sleep and are available to assist with inquiries after business hours.

Most importantly, however, chatbots align perfectly with the new content consumption patterns of consumers, providing employees with on demand information, in a condensed format, in a location where the employee is already engaged. Given these benefits -- and the fact that 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020 -- chatbots are an ideal tool to include in the communications arsenal.

Secret 4: Gamification

The process of using game-based elements such as scoring, rewards and competition, gamification taps into the human need for instant gratification and feedback.

Not only does gamification have a tremendous impact on productivity and staff turnover rates, its ability to increase employee engagement, is even more impressive:

  • Using game-based motivation increases engagement by 48%

  • 90% of employees are more productive when they use gamification

  • 72% of people believe gamification inspires them to work harder

For organizations considering gamification, it's important to first understand what drives your employees and to clearly communicate the purpose of the gamification activity to employees. Doing so will significantly increase your likelihood of success with this type of initiative.

Image Source: https://medium.com/swlh/how-gamification-in-the-workplace-impacts-employee-productivity-a4e8add048e6

Secret 5: Harness the power of intelligence

Your organization is sitting on a wealth of data about your employees -- information that can be used to determine how effectively information is delivered, when it's delivered and who it's delivered to. The result? A top-notch employee experience -- and that's exactly what you should be aiming for because organizations that invest in employee experience see a tremendous number of benefits. They are:

  • Included 11.5 times more often in Glassdoor's Best Places to Work

  • Listed 4.4 times more often in LinkedIn's list of North America's Most In-Demand Employers

  • Listed 28 times more often among Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies

  • Listed 2.1 times more often on the Forbes list of the World's Most Innovative Companies

For two more tips on how to create an effective internal communications strategy, along with tons of guidance on how to engage employees for increased productivity and satisfaction, check out the on-demand webinar "Digitizing the Workplace using Stellar Internal Communication Tools."