How to create community authentically through internal communications

By Samantha McCabe
March 6, 2021
5 min read

You may think of your internal communications strategy right now as a one-way street. You send your employees key company messaging, and they absorb those messages and use them to inform their work or plan for upcoming events.

(Just starting to build that strategy? Most internal comms professionals don’t actually have a plan in place, so we put together a guide to executing your 2021 vision from start to finish.)

But at its best, internal comms is a bustling two-way street—or even a cul-de-sac. With a strategy that emphasizes community and equity, your employees will feel more comfortable voicing their ideas up to the higher levels of your organization and to each other, creating a reciprocal exchange of feedback, positivity, and growth.

Sound pretty good? Read on for how you can create a sense of community using your internal comms strategy, including how feedback is an important component of mutual communication, how internal comms can bolster your diversity and inclusion goals, and how to be a little less boring with your approach. You might even foster some lifelong friendships along the way!

Encouraging employee feedback will make everyone feel part of the bigger picture

The feedback loop is an important part of long-term employee satisfaction and engagement.

Eliciting frequent feedback—and being genuine about it—can help make all of your employees feel equally valued. Instead of just asking your key management team a question about how you might innovate in your industry, for example, posing the question to all of your employees or asking a department you may not otherwise pull into the conversation can produce some new and wonderful ideas.

Great internal comms doesn’t just get your message across to your employees—it lets your employees get their message across to you, and not all of your employees will feel comfortable providing feedback the same way. With internal communications software—like our own—you can easily gather and track employee feedback by posing a quick question or measuring sentiment along a certain value, like quality or satisfaction. These features are anonymous, meaning your employees can answer honestly and openly.

You can supplement this feedback-gathering with creative solutions: in post-COVID times, town halls and group luncheons can be a great way to get employees together and start a productive conversation. The key is making sure that everyone feels they are working towards a common goal. Not only that, but that they’re actually excited about that goal and how to jump over roadblocks along the way.

Need more information about how to collect employee feedback beyond the all-too-common staff survey? We have you covered with our blog post on the topic.

Building community at work can bolster your diversity and inclusion goals

By now, it’s no secret that equitable, diverse workplaces are the ones that thrive. In case you’re still not convinced, let’s fire off some statistics that help prove that point:

  • Inclusive companies are 1.7 times more likely to be innovation leaders in their market, according to research from HR expert Josh Bersin.
  • It’s a self-perpetuating cycle: according to Glassdoor, 67% of people seeking jobs consider the diversity of your workforce as an important factor when they are considering job offers.
  • According to McKinsey, the companies with the most racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their competitors, while companies with the most gender diversity are 15% more likely to do the same.

It’s important to note that simply hiring employees with different backgrounds and life experiences isn’t enough. Those employees need to be supported, encouraged, and made to feel part of the broader organization’s community in order to reach their fullest potential.

Internal comms has a huge role to play in that. As TalentLyft’s Head of Marketing and Employer Branding, Anja Zojčeska, points out in a recent Medium post, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to diversity and inclusion initiatives. As she writes, “you should first find out what type of diversity programs your employees find valuable and want to see implemented at your company.”

Different groups of employees will have different opinions, and it’s important to take note of them all—and this is exactly where internal comms comes in. Managers should schedule regular check-ins with their teams, provide opportunities for direct and anonymous feedback, and keep track of their responses.

No more boring ideas for employee engagement

“Professional” and “mundane” don’t need to be synonyms when it comes to the workplace. A strong sense of community can often come from the opportunity to laugh and joke around with your colleagues, as cheesy as it might sound at first. Here are a few quick ideas for our current virtual reality:

  • Online trivia nights once a month—put your employees into randomized teams to introduce them to new people
  • A pet wall in your office or on your company intranet, because we all want to know the name of the cute dog in the background of your Zoom call
  • A photo competition to see who can take the prettiest snap of their outdoor adventures that weekend

Seek out the community-makers at your organization and ask them how they developed the friendships they have at work and what they would like to see more of. It’s easy to tease the start-up trope of the foosball table at the office, but maybe that’s what some employees need to de-stress, avoid burnout, and get to know each other a little better.

Another simple idea is to create a sense of community and excitement around holidays or events, giving everyone something to look forward to and making otherwise “regular” work days more fun.For instance, our wonderful office manager sent out small gift boxes for Valentine’s Day (who doesn’t love chocolate truffles?). Ideas like these don’t necessarily require financial investment to work—for example, you could organize virtual Valentine’s Day cards between employees and ask them to write workplace-related compliments to one another.

Above all, make your employees feel valued

Especially if you work at a massive company, it can be easy for people to get lost in the fray of departments, hierarchies, and packed day-to-day schedules. All of the sudden, the months on the calendar are flashing by, and you haven’t even gotten the chance to know your employees as people outside of the office.

Whatever your idea might be, you need a dependable software to get your messaging out, gather feedback, and create a general sense of community and belonging among your employees. Our internal comms software could help you get there. Book a demo and try it out, or head to our technology page to learn more.

By Samantha McCabe