Internal comms in the digital age: how to deliver messages that reach your employees

By Kaylee Leitch
April 30, 2021
5 min read

In today’s work environment, the term “business as usual” has been replaced by the now-infamous phrase “the new normal” (and many other new vocabulary words that took hold in 2020). But what does that actually mean? The truth is, it can mean many different things and, like most things in life, it depends who you ask and when you ask them.

This same sentiment can be used when talking about internal communication within an organization. As written messages can often be conveyed, construed or interpreted in a multitude of ways, resulting in confusion and frustration, it’s important to get the message right the first time, using the right channels – especially when you’re delivering important messages related to a crisis, safety issue or natural disaster.

How do you implement that mentality in your own workplace?

We’re glad you asked, and we’re here to help!

When COVID-19 first hit, our work environments were turned upside down and nearly all of us were shifted to working from home and all of our usual, in-person interactions shifted digital. There were no more impromptu conversations in the lunchroom, no more casual coffee chats, and perhaps the biggest hit of all, no more company events or town halls that typically would be used to convey big changes or updates.

Adapting to the new normal with your internal comms

With all these changes taking effect so quickly, it’s not always easy to be at the forefront and adopt new technologies or processes, especially when you’re a larger organization or one that has never embraced the work from home life.

But you’re here and reading this blog, so that means you’re committed to improving the internal communications within your organization and ready to learn the best ways to get important information, updates and potential crisis communication across.

Here are some small steps you can take to nudge your internal comms in the right direction:

  1. Bring back the old-school suggestion box
    While the suggestion box seems like an archaic practice, you can brand and spin it to make it work in 2021 (think “Ask the CEO” or “Virtual Mailbox”). Giving your employees access to an anonymous suggestion box or way of providing feedback allows them an outlet to bring forward suggestions—or let’s be honest, concerns—that they may otherwise feel uncomfortable bringing up. The main thing to remember with any kind of suggestion box, however, is you NEED to ensure you’re ready to do the follow-up work that will inevitably come about as a result. (For more ideas, check out this blog post on how you can gather employee feedback and how our internal comms software, Reach, can help.)
  2. Identify your key stakeholders
    One of the easiest ways to ensure your internal comms efforts will be successful is to identify key stakeholders and form a “task force” to tackle any issues that might come. We recommend involving a member of HR, IT, Marketing/Communications,Operations and of course the CEO or leader of the organization – if this individual is too busy, make sure they elect a proxy to make decisions on their behalf. If you have multiple lines of business or locations, it may be useful to involve the heads of these sectors as well. Keeping the group a manageable size is an important part in ensuring it will function well and decisions will be made in a timely fashion. To stay organized and on-track, we recommend setting up a dedicated chat on Teams or Slack.
  3. Prioritize transparency
    One of the best ways to cut down on the “rumour mill” that inevitably builds within an organization is to be transparent about the issues going on in the business.The best way to do this is by making the questions or issues brought up in the suggestion box public. By doing this, you help mitigate the gossip that often results when people are seeking answers to their questions. For help delivering that messaging, see tips #4 and #5.
  4. Host virtual town hall meetings
    Once you’ve collected all your suggestions and finalized the content of your messaging, the best way to deliver it is in an interactive format – if you’re uncomfortable with a town hall setting, check out tip #5 for how to do this using pre-recorded video. We recommend inviting all employees to a mandatory virtual town hall meeting and using a Q&A platform (think Slido) to allow users to ask questions in realtime. If you’re concerned about the types of questions that will be ask, most of these platforms have a review function so you’re able to sift through any that might be inappropriate or problematic. We do caution against too much filtering as it hurts the transparency process.
  5. Embrace pre-recorded videos
    If a live setting is not your thing, the next best thing is video – let’s face it, everyone is inundated with emails and messages these days so a video is a refreshing change. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy video team or department, an iPhone or webcam works perfectly fine and helps show authenticity and transparency – remember, your employees don’t need you to be perfect, they need the information you are providing.

Go a step further and transform your internal comms

While there are many ways you can deliver important messages within your organization, the most important of all is that you follow-through and keep it consistent. As we mentioned above, it’s great if you have a suggestion box, but if you’re not doing anything to follow-up or provide solutions to the problem, you are the problem.

So remember, to reach your employees, you have to be willing to get outside of your comfort zone and try something different — and if all else fails, our team of Communications Specialists is here to help guide you in the right direction. Checkout our resources section for our handy tools and templates and details on upcoming events and webinars.

And as you work to constantly improve and adjust your internal communications, you might 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.

Happy communicating!

By Kaylee Leitch