3 Elements of Internal Communications that Create Employee Advocates
By: Lindsay Wyskowski
Employees can be a company’s greatest champions—or worst critics. Building an environment where team members can thrive is the surest way to create employee advocates, which in turn can make your company or organization stronger than ever.
It might feel like an uphill battle. Only 32% of employees surveyed by Gallup report feeling engaged in their work. And employers know they can make improvements to what they offer to their teams. Only 47% of employers surveyed in a Willis Towers Watson study said their healthcare and retirement benefits would be considered better than other companies.
Understanding how your team views your company culture and employee experience may help to change how people feel about where they work. You can review your employer brand (a process can be found in our free ebook) to see what really makes your employees feel welcomed and respected and which aspects of your experience might need work.
The employee experience isn’t limited to benefits or cool cultural experiences, either. Communication is a key factor in creating employee advocates and helping employees feel informed.
The smartest companies have clearly and transparently shared information with their teams throughout the past two years. They have been open about challenges and made changes to how they do business to support how the world has changed.
As you review your employer brand, you should be willing to assess your current approach to communications to ensure you are meeting the needs of your team in a constantly evolving work environment.
There are plenty of tools available for internal communications and collaboration. As you review what options are right for you today, know there are simple rules to follow no matter what platforms you deploy.
An internal communications plan is stronger when it is:
Simply put: your employees should hear information about where they work before external audiences. Employees learning about important company news from media stories, customers or other outside sources is a recipe for an unhappy team.
Your team should be receiving key information directly from leadership. And, ideally, they would be hearing it all at the same time. It may not be possible to fully coordinate communications if your workplace is more global or relies on an asynchronous work schedule. At the very least, communications should be tailored to whatever method is most effective for each group and location. Still, the all-at-once approach is preferred, so there’s no preferential treatment for specific employees.
You’ll also want to make sure employees have access to more information than external audiences when possible. Share with your team what information can be shared with their contacts. Be clear about what information is considered proprietary and kept within the proverbial walls of the company.
Communications with your employees should not be one-off events when things get difficult or when you have a big announcement. You should have a schedule of communications with your employees—and you should stick with it.
Your goal should be to make sure your employees know when and how to expect information from you. This cadence will help them see they are not being left in the dark. It can also improve an overall sense of belonging and engagement.
With some internal company chat systems, like Slack or larger enterprise systems like Social Chorus, you can create channels and encourage conversations between staffers. You can also post regular updates about internal programs and initiatives at set times throughout the week.
If your company uses an intranet, categorize your news and resources clearly and intuitively so employees can find the content and information they need when they need it. Use a consistent file naming process for announcements and other information so your team can follow and find items more easily.
You might also create other resources to help employees talk about the company and share information more consistently. Message points, creative assets and company hashtags may be useful for posting on social media channels. You might provide LinkedIn graphics, suggested post copy and other details to ensure everyone is talking about programs, initiatives and information in the same way, regardless of their role within the company.
Employees need to be able to ask questions and engage with you. They should be encouraged to react to news you’re sharing or provide feedback about policies and processes.
Whether you’re sharing information in person at a town hall event or through an online forum, solicit feedback from your team and be sure to consider suggestions. While employees generally don’t mind responding to surveys from their companies, failing to take action on their suggestions and feedback has a negative impact on engagement. According to the Achievers 2022 Engagement and Retention Report, only 18% of employees say their employers always take action on feedback.
You can extend the time your team has to provide feedback, too. Whenever possible, make recordings of key announcements or provide FAQs about process or policy changes. House them in an easily accessible location. And, remind your staff where they can access information and how they can share any thoughts they might have as they digest new information.
The bottom line: your employees need to feel as though you’re listening.
Now more than ever, it’s important to keep employees informed and engaged. Creating employee advocates across the company can seem like a daunting task, especially when there are other goals your company is pursuing. But your employees are often the driving force behind achieving those goals, and they shouldn’t be overlooked.
By ensuring your internal communications are timely, consistent and interactive, you’ll be on the right track to establishing an environment where your talented team wants to stay and prospective employees hope to be hired.