Internal communications: how to do it right to keep staff engaged

5th August 2020

A survey carried out by CASS Business School, IESE Business School and HR Service Provider SD Worx indicated that 65% of UK employees worked remotely during the COVID-19 crisis, 47% of whom had previously been office based. Many companies are subsequently choosing to forego high office rental rates and make remote working a more permanent solution, so whether employees are office-based, work remotely, or are a mixture of the two, how does a business ensure its internal communication strategy is keeping staff engaged?

What is internal communication?

Firstly, it’s definitely not a simple email once a month about employee news. Yes, Steve becoming a first-time dad is exciting and this should be shared, but simply focusing on fluffy stories about the good things staff are doing is not going to drive employee engagement.

Just over 10 years ago, as the UK’s productivity gap began to fall behind its European neighbours, the government commissioned a study which found that to narrow the gap, companies needed to create employees who were more involved. The Engaged for Success report (commonly known as the McLeod Report) found there are four themes needed for success:

  1. Strategic narrative – a strong message about where an organisation is and where it is going
  2. Engaging managers – good communicators who help to bring the best out of employees
  3. Employee voice – staff are seen to be central to a solution, and are involved, listened to and invited to contribute
  4. Integrity – a company’s values are seen on a day to day basis

Internal communication is paramount to driving employee engagement. It helps staff to become more invested in their work and to subsequently produce a higher quality, which in turn can have a positive effect on a company’s bottom line, as well as staff turnover.

Taking the themes from The Engaged for Success report, here are our questions your internal communication strategy needs to answer.

Do all employees know the company’s vision and the plan to achieve it?

You may know in your head where you would like your company to be in five years’ time, or how the way to generate further success is to grow your online revenue, but have you shared this with your team? Perhaps the most important aspect of good internal communication is having everyone on the same page. Sharing regular updates about your company’s journey will give everyone a reason to strive to achieve the same goal.

Do employees engage with the communications you provide?

When it comes to internal communication there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Where an email may work for some companies, for others it will be left unread. Before creating a strategy, speak with your staff to find out what would make them engage. Would video content work best, or maybe they would like to read a printed newsletter, or perhaps access to an internal intranet would be beneficial. This is where working with an external supplier may come in useful as they will be able to add a flourish of creativity and find a solution that would encourage all employees to be involved.

You also need to think about the type of content you are communicating. It doesn’t need to have the same corporate feel which you may give to your external communications, but should be a balance of important company updates, industry news, HR information, and team news – so this is where Steve’s happy news can be celebrated!

Are your employees given the opportunity to speak?

As well as giving staff the chance to contribute their news to your internal communication, part of your strategy should be to have processes where employees can easily make suggestions that could be beneficial to the business, as well as to ensure they are aware of how to raise concerns.

Do you have values which reflect a positive company culture?

A positive company culture means having an encouraging work atmosphere and ensuring each member of staff is respected. This doesn’t just mean that you set out some values that could benefit staff and the company’s growth on a piece of paper, then forget about it. Ensure your values are seen to be respected and regularly communicated, whether that’s simply making time to listen to all ideas, or offering your company’s services/product to a charity for free.

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Sally Burfoot - Senior PR Manager

A highly knowledgeable PR expert with more than 20 years’ experience working in the media industry. Sally initially trained as a journalist and cut her teeth on both regional and national news desks before moving across to PR.

Over the years, she’s created numerous successful campaigns for clients including a global aviation company, the British Heart Foundation and shopping centres up and down the country.

Outside of work, you’ll find Sally either strolling along a beach or jumping up and down at a music gig.

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