What are active comms and why should you adopt them?

By Darian Mavandad
August 3, 2022
4 min read
Two people actively communicating

Recently, we’ve defined what an “intranet” is, and what a “single source of truth” is. As we continue on our theme of defining key pillars of internal communications, we turn to the widely used but less widely defined term “active communications” (or active comms). In short, active comms are communications that happen when internal communicators take control of the flow of the narrative and ensures that employees are kept informed—it’s opposite, passive comms, assumes that employees will receive information with no redirection or control required from an internal communicator. Passive comms ultimately leads to issues that will be explored in this blog. 

Let’s jump in and take a look at what active comms means for internal communicators, and how you can bring them into your internal comms plan while avoiding passive comms!

Note: The literal definition of “active communication” is “the communication that takes place between two people in person” and “passive communication” is communication that occurs “over email, letter, or text”. These are not the definitions that we will be using in the context of internal communications.

What are active comms: examples

Active comms are internal communications that come before external communication, gossip, or isolated departmental announcements. For example, imagine your organization has just undergone a merger. The morning of the merger, your organization will send out a press release and post about it on relevant marketing channels, like social media. This is not how you want your employees to find out about the merger!

These are passive comms, where you let employees discover important internal news through messages outside of the official HR or internal comms channels (and worse, through office gossip and water cooler chats), which can lead to great amounts of stress and leave them with questions like “Are we going to be laid off?” “What does this mean for our benefits?” “How do these changes affect my department?”. This ultimately leads to the erosion of trust and risks a high degree of misinformation.

Flowchart of passive comms
Don’t do this.

Taking an active comms approach means that you inform employees of the news before  external or non-official channels do. Some ideas of active comms in this particular situation could be:

  • Townhalls where employees can ask their questions
  • Push messages with surveys incorporated to gauge employee sentiment with surveys incorporated to gauge employee sentiment
  • A Q&A with your CEO on your internal blog
  • A news post on your corporate intranet
Flowchart of active comms
Do this instead!

This way you can ensure that employees feel “in-the-know” about their own company! It also builds goodwill and reduces the amount of misinformation that might circulate throughout your organization.

What happens when you don’t have active comms

But what if you do none of what was listed above? What can you expect?

Well, for one, employees that don’t feel like they’re being communicated to about important organizational events are more likely to leave—so your active comms plays a key role in reducing turnover.

Moreover, when employees feel that they are allowed to share feedback, they feel more valued, boosting company morale. And happy employees are productive employees!

If you are solely relying on passive communications and external channels to let your employees know of the latest news, you are ensuring a culture where employees don’t feel valued, are not productive, and are more likely to seek other opportunities. So, don’t hesitate, send that Push message ASAP!

How to make your communication more active now

If you’re worried that your organization may be falling victim to passive communications, don’t wait! By being proactive with your communications, you have a chance to build value into your internal comms program and show your value to upper management.

Start with building an internal comms strategy, and then turning that strategy into a plan! Set-up townhalls, Q&A sessions, an intranet news feed, and the use of push and pull communications to keep employees informed, engaged, and productive. If you aren’t sure how to get started, check out our handy tools & templates!

How to make your communication more active in the long-run

To truly streamline and automate your active comms, you’ll need to work efficiently to get your work done, and to do that, purpose-built internal comms software can help you.

With Intranet Connections’ software solution, you are getting not only a cutting-edge intranet platform, but also integrated features like Push messaging, that are active comms approved! Book a no obligations demo today and see it in action!

By Darian Mavandad

Darian has a degree from McGill University, and joined IC to empower internal communicators by creating content that inspires. In his free time, he loves traveling, reading, and skiing.