Frank Wolf, CSO and Co-founder of Staffbase.
Employees are increasingly concerned with an array of critical issues, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a possible recession, DEI, high energy costs, job security, an ongoing pandemic, hate crimes, war, mass shootings and supply chain issues—to name just a few. They are looking to their company leaders to hear the truth about what’s going on in the world and what it means for the organization and each individual employee. Internal communicators play a very important role here as world events undoubtedly impact companies and employees.
According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer (download required), businesses are the only trusted institution (compared to NGOs, government and the media). This fact puts the role of internal communications in the spotlight yet again this year. It firmly secures those in the profession to a position of trusted advisors to senior leadership and a trusted source of information to employees, especially in times of crisis. I believe now is the time to further transform this role from one that solely ensures employees of organizations are kept informed and motivated into a strategic business unit that is the glue that holds companies together.
As the CSO and co-founder of a company that offers an employee communications management platform, I truly believe that communication moves people and people move companies. When internal communicators have the tools they need to enable and inform employees throughout an entire organization, communication can become more than a megaphone for announcements; it can transform company culture, create positive business outcomes and enable business leaders to guide employees through uncertain times.
Hope For The Future
Over the past couple of years, internal communicators have found innovative ways to share frequent, timely and focused communication with employees. They have been providing what Gallup research shows is a stressed workforce with stability during uncertain times. They’ve done all this all while often being stressed and overworked themselves. According to a well-being study by the Centre for Strategic Communication Excellence (CSCE), 66% of comms and public relations professionals believe their current state of mental well-being has declined since the pandemic. With this data in mind, let’s think again about how much this role has changed in the last two years and how much we’re asking of these professionals.
My hope is that difficult times will bring swift beneficial progress that supports comms professionals, business leaders and employees alike. In the last two years alone, we’ve seen how communicators have leveraged advances in internal comms solution offerings to save themselves valuable time and effort. And they have used them to specifically target their comms through multiple channels. A few short years ago, this kind of internal comms reach was hard to accomplish. But I believe reach like this is now more important than ever.
Choosing The Right Technology To Enable Strategic Communications
Today’s internal communicator is the key (and sometimes only) employee charged with ensuring that the right channel mix is in place to reach the right employees with the right information in a targeted and timely manner. Whether handling employee communications for a small, medium-sized or enterprise-sized company, there’s an array of modern communication tools available to fit any budget—and the market will likely only continue to grow.
But how do you choose the right tool or platform? Here are five things to consider:
1. Budget: What features will your budget allow you to prioritize? Do you need a platform that offers a multichannel approach? Is your business likely to grow enough that you need a scalable platform? Will it provide access to all the features internal communicators need both now and in the future?
2. Reach: The need to reach employees where they are is becoming more and more important. In order to maintain and improve employee comms in this world of remote and hybrid working, ask yourself whether you need to reach employees through a range of different devices, i.e., laptops, shared computers, cell phones and tablets, or whether they primarily use a certain type of device. This will help you decide whether you need a mobile app, a front-door intranet or other options. So look for a platform that offers the right solutions for your team.
3. Employee interaction: Is feedback important to your internal comms strategy? If so, look for a solution that provides easy two-way communication that allows employees to comment, discuss and engage with company content.
4. Email: It’s a legacy tool that still gets the job done. And it’s evolving as a budget-friendly solution for those beginning to embrace internal comms tools. Think about whether you need tools or functionality for designing company email newsletters, segmenting reach and measuring the effectiveness of the messages and look for a solution that offers those capabilities if so.
5. Customer support: Digitally transforming internal comms systems is a big step. After considering all of your needs and doing the research, I’ve found that choosing a provider that will be a partner for continued comms success is crucial. Look for options that will support a comms team from the onboarding of a new tool or platform through to launch and onwards.
Ultimately, you should evaluate whether any tool you’re considering will allow you to reach all employees with helpful and necessary company communications. Whatever path you choose, the goal should be to empower business leaders and communicators to drive transformation through internal comms insights, strategies and solutions. Any solution or tool you choose should be a source of power and influence for comms professionals. In this heightened role, internal communicators can also serve to amplify the voices of employees, providing a direct line of communications that lets senior leaders know what their employees are thinking about, worrying about and talking about.