There’s plenty of evidence that communication can make or break a company’s reputation. Social media storms can quickly turn into PR tornados, wiping out individuals, brands, and even entire businesses who post without thinking. Because of this real and present danger, many organizations are focusing on external messaging and ignoring the delicate web of in-house communications.
But if external communication mishaps are like tornados, internal communication problems can be downright volcanic. While they may not be as apparent, these issues can be burning and churning beneath the surface for quite some time— until that day when everything explodes.
To avoid getting swept away by an internal communication disaster, let’s talk about why it’s so important for your employees to be in the know. Here’s are some workplace factors that make internal communication more critical than ever.
1.) The squeeze
Many employees are feeling overworked underappreciated these days. Corporate restructuring, increasing hours and expectations, stagnant wages, and constant understaffing are some of the coping mechanisms employed by businesses during the great recession. Over a decade later, many companies are still continuing with these tactics, and they have taken a toll on the workforce.
Employees are desperately craving honesty, transparency, leadership, and recognition. Open lines of communication are the first step toward building employee trust and confidence, and when levels of employee trust are high, so are levels of employee engagement and retention.
Note: You can’t communicate your way out of a one-sided relationship. If you’re not treating your employees well, no amount of messaging will convince them to stay. Restructure your business practices to be more employee friendly, then communicate them out.
2.) Increasing transparency
Gone are the days when you could successfully keep things on the down-low for a while. With so many forms of instant communication available, if you don’t tell employees what is going on, someone else will. And that won’t make them feel warm and fuzzy.
Today’s employees expect to be updated in real time. Allowing your staff learn about company matters from social media, news outlets, or other outside sources will destroy any trust you’ve worked to build. Even if it’s only to report that you’ve won the Best Employer Ever award for the 12th year in a row, your employees want to hear it from you first.
3.) A need for narrative
Snapchat stories. Instagram stories. Facebook stories. There’s a reason these things have taken off. It’s what users want. It’s also what your employees want from you.
If you don’t tell a clear and compelling story to your employees, they will construct that narrative themselves. Some may be kind with their storytelling, but others will spread nothing but negativity— whether it’s accurate or not.
If your organization is all about great stuff, don’t be modest. Get the word out there so your employees have a full understanding of your culture and why you do what you do. The more they know, the more excited they can get about working for you, and the more community ambassadors you will create.
If your organizational story isn’t so great and you think withholding communication will help, you’re in for a surprise. And not the fun kind.
The big question
Is poor communication better than no communication?
This would be a fun thing to discuss at your next dinner party. But right now, you need to get back to work. And so does everybody else. The problem is, if your team doesn’t know what’s expected of them, how are they supposed to be successful?
If you think time spent creating a solid communication plan isn’t a good investment, try handing someone a project with no guidance or parameters and see how long it takes them to complete it. Then count how many times it needs to be re-worked and re-done and do the math on your total investment. And try not to cry.
The clear answer
In today’s business environment, communication is king. If you’ve been focusing on the external aspects of it, that’s great! But you’re only halfway there.
Yes, you’re busy. And revamping you company’s internal communication strategy might not be at the top of list. But if you’re trying to operate with an outdated or non-existent internal communications plan, you could be headed for disaster.
Move this critical item to the top of your priority list, then come up with a plan that will foster high levels of communication and engagement. Your business just might depend on it.
Need help with employee communication, attracting talent, and keeping good people around? Do you want to be a coveted employer of choice in the greater Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC area? Get in touch with Raffa. We love this stuff!
Photo by Sebastien Decoret