by Caitlin Gibson
Strong internal communications are critical for any enterprise, especially as remote work accelerates digital transformation. They can inspire employee investment, create alignment, make times of change easier, and much more. But many companies are overdoing it. Employees everywhere are experiencing communication fatigue, including Zoom fatigue which intensifies stress and strains our cognitive processes. When communication fatigue goes unchecked for too long, it leads to burnout. Not only is that harmful on a personal level; burnout costs companies billions of dollars every year, reduces productivity, and fuels costly turnover.
To address this growing communication fatigue and its impact on your employees’ wellbeing, you have to rethink your communication strategies and practices. It’s all about getting the right information to the right people at the right time.
How to Rethink Your Communications Strategy
Before you send your next message, implement this approach:
1) Reflect on the big picture of internal communications at your company.
Communication fatigue intensifies when employees routinely receive information that’s not applicable to them through high-traffic communication channels like email and Slack. That means your internal messages are competing with each other for your employees’ attention. So, take a moment to look at your employee communications from a bird’s-eye view.
First, determine what programs and initiatives you need to communicate about and to which employees over the next few months. Then, batch that information into dedicated campaigns with specific audiences. For example, maybe your organization is training managers to support their remote workers and communicating a product release at the same time that you plan to launch a company-wide wellness program. Set up a monthly communication campaign for each of those things. Batch the information you need to share into daily digests and weekly recaps.
Then, space out your communications throughout the month. This ensures each message gets the visibility it deserves while preventing, for example, several emails about different initiatives being sent on the same day. You can use employee communication software with a communications planner tool to make this process easy and scalable.
As a result, you can run multiple messaging campaigns at the same time while avoiding information overload.
2) Use a marketing-based approach.
In order to get the right information to the right people at the right time, your internal messaging should adopt a marketing-based approach. That means personalizing and targeting your communications based on key employee data. For example, think about personalized Instagram ads; this consumer-focused marketing strategy uses data, like a browser search, to curate an ad that’s likely to appeal to a specific person and their interests.
You can use this same approach in your communications strategy. For example, let’s revisit that company-wide wellness program you plan to launch. Rather than communicate all aspects of that program to all of your employees in the same way, determine what about that program will appeal to different employee groups. For example, you can tailor messaging about the program’s app to single employees and those with children using dependent information you have on file. For employees with children, you can send a message that highlights the low-cost, high-yield recipes on the app that can serve big families. For single employees, you can highlight the same recipe library but talk about how it enables low-cost meal prep. Alternatively, you can personalize and target your messages about the program based on location, highlighting the specific vendors and wellness services available in certain areas.
Personalizing and targeting your employee communications in this way results in messages that feel relevant and valuable to every recipient. That can prevent communication fatigue and lead to higher employee engagement with your internal communications overall.
3) Reach employees when it matters most.
Finally, focus on people instead of process. Launch communications when it matters most to your employees based on key events in the employee lifecycle. For example, launch communication campaigns around events like onboarding, manager promotions, and other personal and professional milestones. By aligning your messaging with these meaningful events rather than the company’s priorities alone, your messaging will feel timelier and more impactful overall. This can prevent communication fatigue as employees will come to view your internal communications as a balanced blend of need-to-know information and personalized messaging. That can turn the process of fielding daily emails and direct messages into a more meaningful communication experience that’s energizing and not draining.
As more companies embrace a digital, distributed workforce, employee communications will become more important than ever. They’ll have the power to bridge communication gaps, cultivate a vibrant company culture, and much more. But they’ll also continue to create communication fatigue if they’re not managed well. That’s why it’s crucial that companies take the time now to rethink their communications strategy and practices with their employees’ wellbeing in mind. It’s about orchestrating communications that are thoughtfully timed, personalized, and linked to key events in the employee lifecycle whenever possible. This communications strategy will not only help prevent the inevitable burnout that comes with long-term communication fatigue; it will help your employees thrive.