What is Employee Communication?
Employee communication refers to the two-way communication between an organization and their employees. It can also refer to the communication between employees (e.g. manager communication with employees, employee to employee communication, etc.). This is also sometimes called internal communication.
Why is Employee Communication Important?
Strong communication is foundational to an organization’s success. This is how business objectives are communicated from the top-down, how companies receive employee feedback to improve the employee experience, how managers are able to manage and support their teams, and much more. Strong communication also helps organizations build trust and manage change effectively. Since so much relies on employee communication, improving it has become a key focus of organizations.
Who is Responsible for Employee Communication?
Typically, there is a team of communication professionals within an organization that oversee employee comms (also called internal comms or corporate comms). Sometimes, this function rolls up into Human Resources and is managed by a dedicated HR Communications professional. And then company communication is often overseen by a Chief Communications Officer, who manages both internal and external communications for the company.
Organizations may also have employee communications champions throughout the organization. These are employees who are highly engaged and active; internal comms teams tap these employees to help communicate key initiatives to help with change management, employee engagement, and the localization of content.
What Are the Top Barriers to Effective Employee Communication?
Gallup research has found that 70% of the variance in employee engagement comes down to the manager. But Gatehouse research has found that the lack of manager communication skills is a top challenge facing companies. Poor line manager communication skills are therefore one of the largest barriers to effective employee communication at most organizations. If those organizations don’t have a direct way of reaching frontline employees (who often have no corporate email or Intranet access), then they are forced to rely on what’s called the “cascade of communication” through the chain of management. This cascade is often like a game of telephone where messages get lost in translation, the importance or “so what” of the message gets left out, and the tone of managers can vary drastically, which leaves companies without much control of the message and no way of measuring impact.
Other key barriers to employee comms include lack of budget to afford adequate headcount or the right communication tools. Communication teams are often small, which makes it difficult to make time for certain key tasks like gathering employee feedback or measuring campaign and content performance. Together these resource limitations severely restrict the ability to execute a strong employee communication plan.
Employee Communication Trends
There are three key trends we’re seeing in employee communication right now: employee listening, employee engagement, and focusing on the employee experience.
Employee listening is the practice of listening to employee sentiment, needs, concerns, and wants. Many organizations already invest heavily in customer listening as part of their focus on the customer experience (CX). But there is a clear link between employee experience (EX) and CX, which has put the spotlight on improving the overall employee experience. One of the key ways this is being done is by investing in employee listening tools and tactics, such as employee surveys, to more accurately measure what employees are saying, thinking, feeling, and doing.
Employee engagement refers to how an employee feels about their work and their level of commitment and involvement in that work. This metric is a precursor to all kinds of other business outcomes like retention, productivity, safety and compliance, job satisfaction, and more. It is one of the top concerns of many organizations because of the correlation between high engagement and other metrics. And it’s recognized that strong employee communication can help improve engagement by showing employees they are valued, connecting what they do everyday to the larger goals and work of the organization, and by helping their managers be better leaders and communicators.
Employee experience is the focus on improving the overall experience of employees at your organization. This journey starts in the hiring process, through onboarding, development, and all the way until an employee exits the company. Every stage of this process is important and is fundamental in building culture and brand reputation. And naturally strong communication is very important to building a positive experience for all employees. But with 80% of the workforce not sitting behind a desk and more deskbound employees becoming remote, there is a huge shift to focus on the digital employee experience and communicating with employees remotely.
How Do You Create an Employee Communication Strategy?
Before an internal communications professional should begin planning content and campaigns, they need to conduct an internal comms audit to understand what employee groups have access to what channels and what messages.
We also recommend conducting regular employee surveys to learn what channels employees even use or would want to use if they had access. Use these surveys to also learn what the best medium for sharing information is (e.g. video vs. an employee newsletter). Focus groups can also help you test out new channels and content mediums before sharing them with the entire employee population.
Once you understand your audiences, channels, and messages, you can begin to plan your content strategy and create communication campaigns that help you achieve your business objectives.
How Do You Improve Employee Communication?
In order to improve employee communication, you need to understand where the pain points are in your current communication strategy. Do your employees have access to the right information they need to do their jobs? Are your frontline managers struggling to keep up with everything they are expected to communicate? Do your employees feel disconnected from the leadership team or the organization at large? Do you have a culture problem that’s causing employees to disengage? Surveying your employees regularly and creating an employee focus group are great ways to start narrowing down what elements of employee communication you need to focus on.
How Does theEMPLOYEEapp Help With Employee Communication?
theEMPLOYEEapp is a mobile employee communication solution designed to help organizations more effectively communicate with and reach frontline employees. These frontline or deskless employees are often left without direct channels for communication with corporate or senior management, fostering disengagement and lack of clarity around company vision, mission, and purpose. And, more importantly, when employees do not feel that their voice is heard or their feedback not sought out, they do not feel valued. theEMPLOYEEapp helps solve this problem by creating that direct channel for employee communication, including top-down messaging, surveys, a company directory, and key resources all in one centralized hub.