Everyone knows it’s important to communicate with customers but often we can be so busy focusing on external communications that we forget about another key audience: employees.
Whether you’re an organisation of five, 50 or 500, it’s important to keep your colleagues up-to-date on your activities.
This doesn’t mean a chat around the water cooler – although that conversation is important for forging good working relationships. Instead I’m talking about the effective, regular, sharing of information to ensure staff understand the business’ priorities and activities as though they were part of the management. That could mean using an intranet; regular emails; internal messaging systems; regular team meetings; or even keeping a noticeboard up-to-date – depending on the size and nature of your business.
The method doesn’t matter as long as it is effective at getting your message across.
Are you launching a new product or service in April? Let your staff know. Are you in the early stages of developing something new? Again, let staff know. This isn’t about sharing every detail of your thought process and planning, but if your R&D department is working on a new range of steak pies they might want to know about the business development team’s new commitment to making 50 per cent of all new products vegetarian.
Or maybe the project to be communicated internally is more high level? Perhaps management is in discussion about a re-brand to ensure your packaging and logo visually appeals to a wider range of diets. In which case, the marketing department should be informed of the possibility of change in the near future so they don’t spend their budget on a fancy film advertising the current brand. (For the record, fancy films are a great way of promoting your product, but if the brand they feature is going to be out of date on day one of the advertising campaign, they’re a fancy waste of time and money.)
Perhaps your news is something external and one of your products, departments or individual staff members has won an award. Don’t just shout about it to the public, let your whole organisation know so that everyone can celebrate the good news – they may even share it among their own connections, so giving the business an additional publicity boost.
These are a few examples of why it can be good for your bottom line to ensure internal communications are up-to-date, however monetary income is not the only reason to engage with your staff. By engaging with staff, you are helping to keep them engaged.
It’s also about enabling employees to communicate upwards: for an organisation to function to the best of its ability, communication has to be two-way. Your employees know their business and their capabilities, so let them share that with you for the good of the whole company.
This strengthened relationship could be invaluable in times of crisis too, as the trust that develops through good communications can help organisations pull together to face whatever challenges may arise.
A workforce that knows about the activities within the business is more likely to feel invested in the organisation and enthusiastic about their work.
By communicating and engaging internally you are helping employees to feel valued and increasing your chances of retaining them – it’s an internal reflection of the importance of maintaining good external communications.
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