Employee Communication Channels 101
Regardless of the industry or the type of a company, the main channels that workplaces use for internal communications are very similar – the biggest difference lies in the way they’re being used. Let’s find out what the most popular IC platforms are, with some extra tips to make them 110% effective!
Internal e-mails are one of the most contradictory elements of the IC channel mix. Employees themselves claim that newsletters are the least effective platforms to communicate (read more about this in Economist’s “Communication barriers in the modern Workplace” publication), however, it is still the most frequently used option on our list. People exchange dozens or even hundreds of e-mails on an average day, quickly jumping between different projects and tasks, trying to react to every letter and colleague in time – no wonder they don’t even notice the all-staff event invitation or the leadership communication you’ve just sent out…
Tips to make it more effective: Less is more. If people receive less information, they’re more likely to actually pay attention to it – but given the sheer amount of e-mails, this requires a comprehensive change in the whole company culture. This will definitely take time, but trust me, it’s worth it: every minute you spend with educating colleagues now (don’t cc everyone on the e-mails, no need to send a follow-up e-mail about drinking your morning coffee, etc.) will save you hours of superfluous work on the long run.
It’s also very useful to offer alternative channels or social collaboration platforms to your colleagues instead of e-mails – keep on reading, we’ll cover these soon.
Looking for a quick and easy way to solve any issue or question? Here’s a tip: stand up from your laptop, walk to your colleague’s desk and talk with him / her in a few minutes. Or spend days with the same problem by exchanging e-mails. It’s your choice after all…
Thanks to the exponential technological evolution around us, distance is no longer an obstacle in having personal meetings: webcam-equipped conference rooms, instant messaging apps and smart phones are always there to help you get in contact even with remote colleagues.
Tips to make it more effective: Have you ever wondered how much time is being spent pointlessly from a 1 hour meeting? People not arriving on time, having a personal chat, not focusing on the topic… What if that meeting was only 30 minutes long, or less colleagues were invited? Or maybe a meeting is not even needed to solve the problem?
Although face-to-face meetings offer a direct and convenient way of communication, always think about the circumstances and the stakeholders before deciding to set up a long meeting with your whole team.
Instant Messaging (IM) apps
Contradicting the effectiveness of personal meetings, Gen Y and Z employees prefer written communication to verbal conversations. That’s a fact you’ll have to consider from the very first moment of building up your employee communications framework.
Luckily, there’s Skype, Lync and a lot of other options for this: just one quick message, and the answer is coming instantly (or maybe in a few minutes) from the other side. IM apps are not the solution for all-staff or leadership communications, but they can greatly speed up and streamline daily processes and operative tasks.
Tips to make it more effective: Social collaboration is the next big buzzword of IM apps; today’s new applications are more like internal, corporate social networks instead of simple chat platforms, offering options such as real time file sharing, creating polls, sharing and liking posts. Take a look at Facebook Workplace, Slack or Yammer – they can easily redefine your company culture in terms of communication
Not all workplaces have an Intranet platform, but bigger companies & multinational giants tend to have an internal knowledge base / news-portal / policy library that’s accessible to all colleagues in just a few clicks. The system’s limitations and the lack of dedicated Intranet-admins usually makes it a tough challenge to keep this platform up to date, however, if you succeed with it, you have a viable alternative instead of spamming colleagues with e-mails.
Tips to make it more effective: Listen to your colleagues, and build a website that’s easy to use and tailored exactly to their needs. Are they looking for recent community news? Searching for documents and policies? Having a hard time finding internal services and applications? If you have the answers, you can design the perfect Intranet platform for them.
TV screens / digital signage
More and more office kitchens and elevator lobbies are getting equipped with huge TV screens displaying corporate messages, organizational announcements and company news. A big advantage of digital signage is that they’re hard to avoid: when you’re waiting for the elevator to arrive, watching these screens is literally the best thing you can do.
Tips to make it more effective: As this is a strongly visual channel, you should try to minimize the amount of text on your slides and focus on preparing colorful, creative, eye-catching visuals that support your internal messages. Also, people love seeing themselves in the TV – communicate often about success stories and organizational changes with your colleagues portraits included.
There was a time when printed materials were the absolute best way to successfully deliver a message, however, these times are fading fast – and Earth’s forests are very thankful for this. Printing and distributing some posters is always an option to further promote your campaigns, however, don’t expect too much efficiency, and forget about any analytics. Unless you have the magical ability to track the number of views on a printed posters, which would make you the perfect IC specialist in this universe.
Tips to make it more effective: If you insist on using printed materials, try to think out of the box in terms of format, design, color, typography, everything. For example, a creative, non-corporate feeling sticker can be a great way to promote your message internally.
And to finish our list, a question to you: what are your experiences regarding employee communication channels? What’s trending at your company, and which channel are you struggling with? Or maybe you’re missing something from the list? Drop a comment below, let’s talk about it!