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10 Internal Communications Best Practices for 2022

In a post-pandemic workplace, internal comms remain key – here are our top ten tips, tricks and tools for getting it right.

August  2022

ScreenCloud Post

The last two years were genuinely unprecedented times, and now companies around the world are grappling with mass shifts in the way people work; and what they expect from work.

Internal comms played a key role in managing this change, but now they face a fresh challenge.

With more digital tools – such as digital signage – at our fingertips than ever before, HR and Comms teams have a wealth of options available to them to reach, engage, and corral employees.

With the pace of this change, however, it’s now up to these professionals to evolve their strategies and make use of new tools and opportunities while protecting or maintaining quality of information, and employee trust and wellbeing. Demands of leadership to take a greater role in communications must be fulfilled, and the need for insightful data and analysis of comms will grow further.

2022 will also see HR and communications leaders 'think like marketers'; creating, scaling, and optimizing consumer marketing-grade campaigns for empowered global workforces.

Communicating with your employees, after all, deserves the same level of craft, strategy and resource as communicating with prospective and existing customers. It's one of the best ways to retain talent and increase productivity and engagement in the era of high expectations and high churn.

This is especially true amongst 'deskless' workers – in manufacturing, supply chain and logistics, or transportation, for example – who, after working through Covid-19 lockdowns, realize how critical their skillsets and roles are to keep the economy, and society, ticking along.

What's the relationship between company culture and internal communications?

When it comes to the workplace, company culture is who you are and internal communication is how you get that across (in a nutshell).

For example, if an organization says “Our company culture is based on transparency”, yet limited or inaccurate information gets passed down from the company founders to your employees – your internal communications strategy isn’t reflecting your company culture.

The two need to work in tandem so that your communication strategy reflects the culture you have and/or are striving for. This affects every part of how you work, and in most cases, how information is transmitted between senior management, teams and employees.

In this quick guide, we’re going to look at internal communication best practices – fit for a modern workplace – that will help improve your flow of information and content, for everyone's benefit.

1. Host regular 'All Hands' meetings

If you haven’t heard of a company All Hands before, here is the dictionary definition:

1 : an entire ship's company

2 : everybody engaged in the same pursuit

An all-company meeting is a great strategy for building up confidence and knowledge within a company. As the definition alludes, it helps to keep everyone steering the ship in the same direction.

According to Slido, “All-hands meetings are the cornerstone of transparent culture”. If the entire company is sitting down together once a month, or more regularly, it’s hard to not have a culture that invites transparency.

So what should an All Hands achieve? A typical format might see company founders presents for around 30 minutes on a separate topic. Often this falls into: metrics, purpose and product.

You might decide to just have one topic per All Hands, or to invite in different areas like inspiration (a story or anecdote) or education (a lesson or topic).

Here some key tips on creating an engaging All Hands:

  • Make it frequent, and regular: Once per month at least, every month
  • Organize it well: If you’re inviting the whole company it needs to be as seamless as possible in terms of setup, technology and themes
  • Invite questions but limit discussion: This is important to ensure you don’t end up in a debate over the small details. All Hands is more about the big picture – make sure to set follow-up meetings or feedback channels for further discussion

This may seem obvious, but make it as easy as possible for everyone to join. Consider timezones if you have a global workforce, and also accessibility.

Deskless workers, who make up 80% of the global workforce (X) may not have access to a company email address or Intranet, or to a personal digital device on the job; to tune in. The screens or TVs in their work environments – whether they're on the factory floor or in the break room – are a great medium to live stream All Hands, or any important updates from senior management or HQ.

Look out for digital signage solutions like ScreenCloud, that enable company content to be played on screens and reach people at scale. ScreenCloud's Broadcast feature allows internal communications specialists to bridge the gap between Head Office and distributed teams. When every single employee can hear the latest 'from the source' and in real-time, that's a powerful thing.

2. Make your company objectives crystal clear

If you asked every employee to tell you your core company objectives for this quarter, or in general, could they answer? Successful brands are built on successful workplace cultures, and part of this is ensuring that everyone knows what they're working towards.

Often, in the day-to-day minutiae, we forget to communicate the overarching mission to our teams – here's how:

  • Use OKRs: “Objectives and Key Results” are a great way to enforce the company mission as they start from the top down. The company sets its three biggest aims for the quarter, then each department or employee comes up with their own objectives that align with the big aims.
  • Metric sharing: Outside of the sales team, information on company metrics like growth, turnover and sales often get siloed. Make your company metrics more visible; it helps employees to take ownership, and track against them.
  • Be visual: If you’re trying to get everyone to read lengthy text-based reports on your quarterly performance, you’re likely to fail. Use colour, images, graphs and figures, integrate video where possible, and keep it succinct and digestible.

Again, digital signage can be a great way to communicate company objectives – in a manner that's compelling, unobtrusive and fits into your employees' days and workflows. Use your screens to display your 'North Stars'; or connect dashboards that provide teams with the decision-support data and actionable insights they need to stay on time, on track and on budget.

3. Always recognize hard work

“We are all motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is, the more he is inspired by glory" – CICERO, Pro Archia Poeta.

How often does your company praise, reward or recognize the efforts of its employees? Internal communication is a great vehicle for ensuring that great people, and great achievements, are recognized by everyone.

A tool which reminds and encourages employees to praise each other is a good start, and so is making this praise more visible. Taking a multi-pronged approach can work wonders: a company newsletter or employee app, dedicated Slack channel, and via digital signage screens.

Finally, a consistent award or reward system, where employees can get nominated and win prizes, cements the value their employer has for them and can boost morale.

4. Create feedback loops

We often go out of our way to get feedback from customers, but what about feedback from employees? Internal communication is a two-way street. As well as managers communicating their expectations, employees should also have the means to say how they feel, what they’re working on and what could be improved.

This could be via a tool, for example Leapsome or 15Five – every Friday, each team member rates how they feel on a score of 1-5.

There are also other ways to provide more general feedback. This could be a Slack channel, a regular 1-1 meeting or a chance to present new ideas and ways to move forward (with an option to stay anonymous).

Also worth considering is the sort of feedback you collect. While eNPS scores and quarterly survey results are great, 'quick and dirty' snapshots of how your employees are feeling at a moment in time can be just as insightful.

"Really fast, small sample size flash pulse survey programs […] getting that really fast, frequent pulse survey data is extraordinarily valuable, and in my experience executives love seeing that data come in every week. The other is what you could call proxy measures of communication success" – Chandler Goodman, Senior Director of Marketing, Thought Leadership & Client Delivery at Gagen MacDonald

5. Create employee-driven workflows

In his TED Talk, Martin Danoesastro asks: “What are you willing to give up to change the way we work?”

One of his analogies is that for birds to fly perfectly in a flock, they cannot have one leader. Instead, “scientists believe that these birds are relying on a few simple rules, allowing every single bird to make autonomous decisions while still flying in perfect synchrony. Their alignment enables their autonomy, and their autonomy makes them fast and flexible.”

In workplace culture, autonomy is something which hasn’t always been given to employees. Yet more and more companies are adopting either flat hierarchies or flexible working practices which do give employees the autonomy to be masters of their own workloads.

Introducing employee-driven workflows, where each individual decides on the tasks which will best align them to the company goals, could help your teams work better and be more productive.

Employees having ownership of their workdays leverages the 'IKEA effect' – this refers to the sense of attachment we feel to things we've helped to build.

Of course, you can't assemble flatpack furniture without the right tools, and a clear and detailed manual. For successful employee-driven workflows, internal comms professionals are the ones who need to provide the relevant guidance; and ensure the lines of communication between managers and their reports, or HQ and regional or site managers, are open and clear.

6. Send less email

Even in desk-based environments, engagement with emails – especially 'send all' emails – remain low. Across all industries, the opening and click through rates for internal emails is 79% and 15%, respectively. Bananatag.

A key component of internal communications is ensuring that employees aren’t overwhelmed by information. And email? It can create overwhelm.

Think about ways you can streamline information this year and reduce the number of emails you send, or require employees to respond to.

Consider creating an 'email budget' to set a cap on how many managers can send (and when), or 'email etiquette' with rules including not replying to an email if it’s just to say okay or thanks, or removing people from cc. as soon as they’re no longer needed to progress or oversee the project.

In deskless environments, 83% of employees aren't provided with a company email address LinkedIn. Even if they have one, it might not be checked in real-time.

From policy updates to happy birthday announcements, delivery schedules to invitations to the annual holiday dinner – this is all content that can be displayed on screens, either standalone or to complement other communications channels. Your employees don't even need to stop what they're doing to absorb the information.

Curious about how content across various devices and display sizes is processed by your brain? Check out The Neuroscience of Visual Media eBook, produced in partnership with University College London.

7. Focus on wellbeing

"The 3 pillars of really healthy workplaces are being strengths-based, engagement-focused, and now this element of a thriving wellbeing culture" – Jim Collinson, Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Wellbeing at Gallup.

In 2021, at the height of the pandemic, 96% of companies around the world provided additional mental health resources, yet only 1 in 6 employees reported feeling supported (McKinsey). Many were unaware of the resources available to them, or unsure how to use the wellbeing-enhancing technology – such as meditation apps – that was offered.

The role of tech in supporting employee wellbeing is significant, yet should be weighed against the negative impacts of a digital-first workplace or 'digital overload'. Tech should be leveraged in as many positive ways as possible to enhance wellbeing by connecting people and resources, creating space for social interaction, and as a mechanism to keep a pulse of the workforce's emotional state through employee surveys.

Wellbeing initiatives and training resources need dedicated sites and targeted communications to boost both awareness and engagement. For internal communications, the key to all of this must be consistency and frequency.

8. Let leadership take the lead

There's a growing demand for business leaders to address the many challenges society faces – from the climate crisis to gender inequality – as trust in political figures plummets.

Edelman’s Trust Barometer shows 86% of people believe CEOs should speak out publicly on societal issues, and 68% believe they should step in where governments fail.

In 2022 it's business-critical for internal communications professionals to align their strategies with business leaders, offering employees direct visibility and alignment; with a focus on video content to boost this visibility and offer a transparent and personal touch.

Leadership comms should be given dedicated sites and content feeds, and content must be fact-led and empathetic, providing information that's truthful, reliable, and free from bias.

Above all, leaders must walk the talk to avoid information overload and reinforce a culture of listening and respect – and it's the role of Internal Comms, in part, to hold them accountable.

9. Build out your toolkit

What are your core tools for internal communication? Refining a technology stack often helps to streamline where information is being shared, and who has access to it.

Too many tools, and employees could get overwhelmed. Too little, or no clear plan, and you could end up with information (or misinformation) all over the shop.

Check out this guide for internal communication tools to consider.

10. Market, market, market

Do you think about internal communication or do you think about internal marketing? Both fulfil a similar purpose, but the latter suggests that you can get more creative.

Employees aren’t so different to customers, and finding new ways to keep them engaged and in dialogue with you is key to improving overall productivity and performance.

External marketing campaigns take time, money, and budget. They require research and brainstorming, and the efforts of your star strategists, copywriters, and designers.

Allocate even a fraction of the resource you'd spend on external campaigns to internal, and reap the rewards!

Digital signage: dynamic, cost-effective, scalable

ScreenCloud is the only solution you need to drive engagement, productivity and sales with digital signage. To get a free trial or demo today, visit https://screencloud.com/contact.

Playbooks

10 Internal Communications Best Practices for 2022

In a post-pandemic workplace, internal comms remain key – here are our top ten tips, tricks and tools for getting it right.

August  2022

ScreenCloud Post

The last two years were genuinely unprecedented times, and now companies around the world are grappling with mass shifts in the way people work; and what they expect from work.

Internal comms played a key role in managing this change, but now they face a fresh challenge.

With more digital tools – such as digital signage – at our fingertips than ever before, HR and Comms teams have a wealth of options available to them to reach, engage, and corral employees.

With the pace of this change, however, it’s now up to these professionals to evolve their strategies and make use of new tools and opportunities while protecting or maintaining quality of information, and employee trust and wellbeing. Demands of leadership to take a greater role in communications must be fulfilled, and the need for insightful data and analysis of comms will grow further.

2022 will also see HR and communications leaders 'think like marketers'; creating, scaling, and optimizing consumer marketing-grade campaigns for empowered global workforces.

Communicating with your employees, after all, deserves the same level of craft, strategy and resource as communicating with prospective and existing customers. It's one of the best ways to retain talent and increase productivity and engagement in the era of high expectations and high churn.

This is especially true amongst 'deskless' workers – in manufacturing, supply chain and logistics, or transportation, for example – who, after working through Covid-19 lockdowns, realize how critical their skillsets and roles are to keep the economy, and society, ticking along.

What's the relationship between company culture and internal communications?

When it comes to the workplace, company culture is who you are and internal communication is how you get that across (in a nutshell).

For example, if an organization says “Our company culture is based on transparency”, yet limited or inaccurate information gets passed down from the company founders to your employees – your internal communications strategy isn’t reflecting your company culture.

The two need to work in tandem so that your communication strategy reflects the culture you have and/or are striving for. This affects every part of how you work, and in most cases, how information is transmitted between senior management, teams and employees.

In this quick guide, we’re going to look at internal communication best practices – fit for a modern workplace – that will help improve your flow of information and content, for everyone's benefit.

1. Host regular 'All Hands' meetings

If you haven’t heard of a company All Hands before, here is the dictionary definition:

1 : an entire ship's company

2 : everybody engaged in the same pursuit

An all-company meeting is a great strategy for building up confidence and knowledge within a company. As the definition alludes, it helps to keep everyone steering the ship in the same direction.

According to Slido, “All-hands meetings are the cornerstone of transparent culture”. If the entire company is sitting down together once a month, or more regularly, it’s hard to not have a culture that invites transparency.

So what should an All Hands achieve? A typical format might see company founders presents for around 30 minutes on a separate topic. Often this falls into: metrics, purpose and product.

You might decide to just have one topic per All Hands, or to invite in different areas like inspiration (a story or anecdote) or education (a lesson or topic).

Here some key tips on creating an engaging All Hands:

  • Make it frequent, and regular: Once per month at least, every month
  • Organize it well: If you’re inviting the whole company it needs to be as seamless as possible in terms of setup, technology and themes
  • Invite questions but limit discussion: This is important to ensure you don’t end up in a debate over the small details. All Hands is more about the big picture – make sure to set follow-up meetings or feedback channels for further discussion

This may seem obvious, but make it as easy as possible for everyone to join. Consider timezones if you have a global workforce, and also accessibility.

Deskless workers, who make up 80% of the global workforce (X) may not have access to a company email address or Intranet, or to a personal digital device on the job; to tune in. The screens or TVs in their work environments – whether they're on the factory floor or in the break room – are a great medium to live stream All Hands, or any important updates from senior management or HQ.

Look out for digital signage solutions like ScreenCloud, that enable company content to be played on screens and reach people at scale. ScreenCloud's Broadcast feature allows internal communications specialists to bridge the gap between Head Office and distributed teams. When every single employee can hear the latest 'from the source' and in real-time, that's a powerful thing.

2. Make your company objectives crystal clear

If you asked every employee to tell you your core company objectives for this quarter, or in general, could they answer? Successful brands are built on successful workplace cultures, and part of this is ensuring that everyone knows what they're working towards.

Often, in the day-to-day minutiae, we forget to communicate the overarching mission to our teams – here's how:

  • Use OKRs: “Objectives and Key Results” are a great way to enforce the company mission as they start from the top down. The company sets its three biggest aims for the quarter, then each department or employee comes up with their own objectives that align with the big aims.
  • Metric sharing: Outside of the sales team, information on company metrics like growth, turnover and sales often get siloed. Make your company metrics more visible; it helps employees to take ownership, and track against them.
  • Be visual: If you’re trying to get everyone to read lengthy text-based reports on your quarterly performance, you’re likely to fail. Use colour, images, graphs and figures, integrate video where possible, and keep it succinct and digestible.

Again, digital signage can be a great way to communicate company objectives – in a manner that's compelling, unobtrusive and fits into your employees' days and workflows. Use your screens to display your 'North Stars'; or connect dashboards that provide teams with the decision-support data and actionable insights they need to stay on time, on track and on budget.

3. Always recognize hard work

“We are all motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is, the more he is inspired by glory" – CICERO, Pro Archia Poeta.

How often does your company praise, reward or recognize the efforts of its employees? Internal communication is a great vehicle for ensuring that great people, and great achievements, are recognized by everyone.

A tool which reminds and encourages employees to praise each other is a good start, and so is making this praise more visible. Taking a multi-pronged approach can work wonders: a company newsletter or employee app, dedicated Slack channel, and via digital signage screens.

Finally, a consistent award or reward system, where employees can get nominated and win prizes, cements the value their employer has for them and can boost morale.

4. Create feedback loops

We often go out of our way to get feedback from customers, but what about feedback from employees? Internal communication is a two-way street. As well as managers communicating their expectations, employees should also have the means to say how they feel, what they’re working on and what could be improved.

This could be via a tool, for example Leapsome or 15Five – every Friday, each team member rates how they feel on a score of 1-5.

There are also other ways to provide more general feedback. This could be a Slack channel, a regular 1-1 meeting or a chance to present new ideas and ways to move forward (with an option to stay anonymous).

Also worth considering is the sort of feedback you collect. While eNPS scores and quarterly survey results are great, 'quick and dirty' snapshots of how your employees are feeling at a moment in time can be just as insightful.

"Really fast, small sample size flash pulse survey programs […] getting that really fast, frequent pulse survey data is extraordinarily valuable, and in my experience executives love seeing that data come in every week. The other is what you could call proxy measures of communication success" – Chandler Goodman, Senior Director of Marketing, Thought Leadership & Client Delivery at Gagen MacDonald

5. Create employee-driven workflows

In his TED Talk, Martin Danoesastro asks: “What are you willing to give up to change the way we work?”

One of his analogies is that for birds to fly perfectly in a flock, they cannot have one leader. Instead, “scientists believe that these birds are relying on a few simple rules, allowing every single bird to make autonomous decisions while still flying in perfect synchrony. Their alignment enables their autonomy, and their autonomy makes them fast and flexible.”

In workplace culture, autonomy is something which hasn’t always been given to employees. Yet more and more companies are adopting either flat hierarchies or flexible working practices which do give employees the autonomy to be masters of their own workloads.

Introducing employee-driven workflows, where each individual decides on the tasks which will best align them to the company goals, could help your teams work better and be more productive.

Employees having ownership of their workdays leverages the 'IKEA effect' – this refers to the sense of attachment we feel to things we've helped to build.

Of course, you can't assemble flatpack furniture without the right tools, and a clear and detailed manual. For successful employee-driven workflows, internal comms professionals are the ones who need to provide the relevant guidance; and ensure the lines of communication between managers and their reports, or HQ and regional or site managers, are open and clear.

6. Send less email

Even in desk-based environments, engagement with emails – especially 'send all' emails – remain low. Across all industries, the opening and click through rates for internal emails is 79% and 15%, respectively. Bananatag.

A key component of internal communications is ensuring that employees aren’t overwhelmed by information. And email? It can create overwhelm.

Think about ways you can streamline information this year and reduce the number of emails you send, or require employees to respond to.

Consider creating an 'email budget' to set a cap on how many managers can send (and when), or 'email etiquette' with rules including not replying to an email if it’s just to say okay or thanks, or removing people from cc. as soon as they’re no longer needed to progress or oversee the project.

In deskless environments, 83% of employees aren't provided with a company email address LinkedIn. Even if they have one, it might not be checked in real-time.

From policy updates to happy birthday announcements, delivery schedules to invitations to the annual holiday dinner – this is all content that can be displayed on screens, either standalone or to complement other communications channels. Your employees don't even need to stop what they're doing to absorb the information.

Curious about how content across various devices and display sizes is processed by your brain? Check out The Neuroscience of Visual Media eBook, produced in partnership with University College London.

7. Focus on wellbeing

"The 3 pillars of really healthy workplaces are being strengths-based, engagement-focused, and now this element of a thriving wellbeing culture" – Jim Collinson, Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Wellbeing at Gallup.

In 2021, at the height of the pandemic, 96% of companies around the world provided additional mental health resources, yet only 1 in 6 employees reported feeling supported (McKinsey). Many were unaware of the resources available to them, or unsure how to use the wellbeing-enhancing technology – such as meditation apps – that was offered.

The role of tech in supporting employee wellbeing is significant, yet should be weighed against the negative impacts of a digital-first workplace or 'digital overload'. Tech should be leveraged in as many positive ways as possible to enhance wellbeing by connecting people and resources, creating space for social interaction, and as a mechanism to keep a pulse of the workforce's emotional state through employee surveys.

Wellbeing initiatives and training resources need dedicated sites and targeted communications to boost both awareness and engagement. For internal communications, the key to all of this must be consistency and frequency.

8. Let leadership take the lead

There's a growing demand for business leaders to address the many challenges society faces – from the climate crisis to gender inequality – as trust in political figures plummets.

Edelman’s Trust Barometer shows 86% of people believe CEOs should speak out publicly on societal issues, and 68% believe they should step in where governments fail.

In 2022 it's business-critical for internal communications professionals to align their strategies with business leaders, offering employees direct visibility and alignment; with a focus on video content to boost this visibility and offer a transparent and personal touch.

Leadership comms should be given dedicated sites and content feeds, and content must be fact-led and empathetic, providing information that's truthful, reliable, and free from bias.

Above all, leaders must walk the talk to avoid information overload and reinforce a culture of listening and respect – and it's the role of Internal Comms, in part, to hold them accountable.

9. Build out your toolkit

What are your core tools for internal communication? Refining a technology stack often helps to streamline where information is being shared, and who has access to it.

Too many tools, and employees could get overwhelmed. Too little, or no clear plan, and you could end up with information (or misinformation) all over the shop.

Check out this guide for internal communication tools to consider.

10. Market, market, market

Do you think about internal communication or do you think about internal marketing? Both fulfil a similar purpose, but the latter suggests that you can get more creative.

Employees aren’t so different to customers, and finding new ways to keep them engaged and in dialogue with you is key to improving overall productivity and performance.

External marketing campaigns take time, money, and budget. They require research and brainstorming, and the efforts of your star strategists, copywriters, and designers.

Allocate even a fraction of the resource you'd spend on external campaigns to internal, and reap the rewards!

Digital signage: dynamic, cost-effective, scalable

ScreenCloud is the only solution you need to drive engagement, productivity and sales with digital signage. To get a free trial or demo today, visit https://screencloud.com/contact.

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