By: Keith Kitani, CEO of GuideSpark
On May 12th, HR.com sponsored a virtual presentation event called “The Future of Employee Communications, Tools & Processes 2021,” which was attended by over 1,000 HR and communications professionals. These attendees were all interested in improving the way they communicate with employees – especially after such an unprecedented year when communication became fundamental to company success.
The survey data compiled for the event was extremely telling when it comes to the current state of employee communications: Organizations agree that internal comms is crucial to business success, but many are still struggling to get it right.
- 80% of respondents agree that employee communication has a positive impact on employee experience and engagement
- 51% feel their organization’s communications are only moderately effective.
In my last blog post, I reflected on the first half of my presentation at the event: my 4 top communication techniques to help organizations cut through the digital noise to reach and engage employees. Internal communicators need to think like marketers when communicating with employees: from building engaging experiences, to targeting and personalizing messages, to leveraging data & analytics, and finally adopting automation to scale and integrate communications.
The second half of my presentation outlined how organizations can create a Communications Center of Excellence to help orchestrate employee communications across their enterprise. When I polled attendants on what kind of process or model for managing communications was already in place, I received the following responses:
- 40% responded that they only had basic systems, like a calendar or spreadsheet
- 30% responded they had none at all.
The Center of Excellence framework outlines 4 key components to enterprise communications: Organization, Systems, Process, & Data.
Your internal teams need both high-level coordination – with consistent standards and enterprise communication orchestration – and customized program-level execution – allowing program owners the freedom to tailor communications to drive the outcomes of their specific initiative.
Coordination is key when it comes to delivering a great employee experience, including campaign consistency, brand identity, overall settings, and coordinated timing, to drive employee engagement. GuideSpark’s Communicate Planner is the perfect tool for allowing internal communicators to manage and orchestrate all enterprise communications in a single place. With a holistic view of your enterprise communications, you can ensure you are optimizing your company’s employee experience and cutting through the noise.
Once your programs and communications are working together in an organized, orchestrated way, teams can better focus on specific, program-level execution, driving the specific business outcomes they’re looking for. Not every employee initiative will engage every employee in the same way, so it’s important for HR program owners to adjust key factors like timing, success metrics, delivery channel, and more to drive the adoption and change for their specific program.
Communication is not a stand-alone activity, it should be integrated into your existing enterprise ecosystem to reach and connect with employees.
Inputs, such as SSO authentication, employee profile data, rich content, and other tools or platforms are key areas to seamlessly integrate your communications. Leverage the data, tools, and platforms your organization leans on most to support your enterprise communications.
Outputs, like reach channels (email, SMS, Slack, MS Teams), embedded experiences, or calls to action can help take your communications to a new level of results. For impactful employee communications, it’s not enough to simply hit “send,” you need to then make sure you’re effectively reaching and engaging employees where they are.
Your employees, your systems, and the digital world are constantly evolving – which means your communications need to evolve as well. An effective communications framework is not a “set-it-and-forget-it” event; it’s an ongoing process. Attracting more engagement and interaction with your communications – not to mention program success and employee adoption – requires data for ongoing analysis and improvement.
Once you plan and execute on your initial round, such as the first message in a campaign, you can start measuring how your audience is engaging. With this valuable feedback, you can make tweaks in real time to the rest of your communications, or incorporate it into the next full version. And keep in mind, even if your approach worked well in the first iteration, the same message or technique won’t continue to work over and over in the same way. No matter the initial success of a campaign, your approach to internal communication needs to be kept fresh to be effective.
Data is an invaluable communication tool to reach the right audience, in the right place, at the right time. Without data, there’s no way to really know if you’re reaching and connecting with employees. It’s the best metric to understand whether employees are not only reading and engaging with your messages, but also understanding and interacting with your program information, then taking action.
Start with Employee Data – the location, department, role, or other basic demographics of your workforce. This can help guide any segmentation or personalized messaging you want to carry out. Then, monitor your Communication Data, which measures how your audience is engaging with content and messaging, such as views, clicks, opens, and poll ratings. Finally, the strongest indicator of communication success lies in your Outcomes Data, which reports on whether employees are executing on what you’re promoting, such as enrolling in a program, or aligning with your strategies and goals.
The survey data from HR.com makes it clear: employee communications are essential to the success of your internal HR programs, but so many companies are struggling when it comes to executing on a big-picture plan. This Communications Center of Excellence framework provides for organizations to think about communications in a more holistic way. You can find more details on this Communications Center of Excellence in my recent whitepaper.
No matter where your organization the most important step is your first one. Internal communications are, crucially, iterative – and they’ll be more functional, impactful, and effective when business leaders take the time to learn what their own organization needs most.