Welcome to 2020! With a new year and decade comes a new mantra that illustrates the future of employee communications. This year, and every year after that, successful employee communications will be personalized and targeted, and delivered to the right person, at the right time, on the platform of their choice. Sounds simple, right?
Not so fast.
In their 2019 State of the Sector report, communications firm Gatehouse identified the two biggest barriers to success for internal communications teams: excessive volume of communications, and lack of time for employees to engage with the message.
Another survey found that only 13% of employees engage daily with their company’s intranet. And, while 77% open company emails, only 34% click on the resources within to dig deeper into the information. These numbers reflect how – in the wake of urgent client emails and days filled with meetings, phone calls, and deadlines – internal messages get deprioritized, filed away for later, or scanned with little-to-no interaction.
We’ve broken down our mantra into three sections below. Together, let’s unpack how to lead effective and successful employee communications programs within your organization.
Personalized and Targeted Communications
Employee communications, as with any strategic communication effort, requires a comprehensive understanding of your audience. Expect to see audience segmentation become more prevalent in employee outreach as new platforms make it easier to create and manage audiences. Marketers can segment audience members based on business unit, region, role, or demographics. Internal communications teams will also have greater access to tools that enable them to quickly and easily push relevant information to more employees at once.
As for the format and method of disseminating messages, companies primarily share information with employees via the written word. However, more teams are experimenting with other methods like video, infographics, and even podcasts. It’s also now more common to see comment sections or widgets attached to employee communications, allowing employees to engage and provide feedback to different audiences within their company.
As technology progresses and the demand for personalization increases, employee communication platforms will continue to advance in how they collect and analyze employee engagement and feedback. Inevitably, these sophisticated platforms and systems will enable more personalized content development and delivery.
How to Get There:
If you aren’t segmenting your employee communications program, start now. Consider the following ways you can segment your employee audience:
- Employment Stage
- Channel Preference
Don’t limit yourself to the written word for all internal content. Live a little! Experiment with video, live chats, and visual elements. Then, measure and analyze audience engagement to see which formats work for which segments. No matter the method, keep communications brief.
Delivered to the Right Person, at the Right Time
The goal of employee communications is often destination-focused. In other words, employees are encouraged to click through to another destination for more information, be it the company intranet or monthly newsletter. Unfortunately, this means those who file away newsletters or don’t interact with the company intranet miss important information – and companies miss opportunities to keep those employees engaged. Organizations often determine employee communication distribution schedules, formats, and segmentation using a mix of data and gut instinct, leaving them with a limited view of what works within and why.
Advanced employee communications tools will become more accessible (read affordable) as companies start to look for ways to get precise, real-time information on how employees are engaging and interacting with company content. This information can then be used to adjust campaigns in near-real-time, allowing companies to send content that employees want when they are most likely to engage. Some employee communications teams are even starting to employ artificial intelligence to make real-time evaluation and adjustments easier and to provide data-driven content suggestions to employees.
How to Get There:
Get a robust measurement and analysis program in place. Start by identifying the goals and objectives for your employee communications program. Then, figure out what data you have and what data you need, as well as the necessary tools to gather that missing information. From there, measure, analyze, and adjust your program continuously for optimal results. Internal communications platform, Social Chorus, offers some good advice on how to do this, including how often to pull and analyze results.
On the Platform of Their Choice
Companies with more advanced, robust employee communications strategies incorporate mobile platforms to reach frontline and gig workers as well as younger employees. And, because some companies are slower to implement new tools and require extensive testing and vetting, it’s up to internal communications teams to convey ROI to the leadership team.
As the market matures and platforms and tools continue to consolidate, a handful of communications platforms will emerge and give internal communications teams an advantage. These platforms offer a simplified, panoramic view of the channels, metrics, and analysis needed to engage with employees. As younger, more tech-savvy generations enter the workforce, digital acumen will increase. This shift will make it easier for teams to use these consolidated platforms to test and roll out new features and functions across marketing channels.
How to Get There:
Do some experimenting. Test out different strategies on a small scale first. Utilize different platforms and channels to identify which ones reach and engage employees best.
Build a cohesive strategy. This will allow you to integrate a variety of channels into your employee communications arsenal to improve engagement and communications. Note: Mobile is a must.
New Decade, New Mantra
More than ever, employees desire more personalization and greater control over the volume and types of messages they receive. As we welcome a new decade, internal communications teams must focus on how to meet their audience where they are and fulfill those desires. By living this mantra, it will be easier than ever to share more meaningful information with employees.