Internal communications best practices are like good customer support. Hopefully you don’t ever notice them, but when you need them, YOU NEED THEM.
Look at the Chipotle debacle where they had a multistate outbreak of E. coli.
Yes, there’s the public communication issue that needs to be handled as a PR crisis. But it’s also something that needs to be communicated about properly internally as well. And those internal communications, if done successfully, will help that public communication as a byproduct.
As Tim Sackett talks about, it’s HR’s job to advise the executive team about how to handle crisis situations like this with their management and employees.
It’s then PR’s job to get the message out appropriately.
Employee Communications Best Practices
Better employee communications internally lead to more engaged employees.
This means that Leadership needs to know how and when to connect with employees in a way that will make them feel appreciated, informed, and valuable to the company’s success.
Cord Himelstein provides a nice list of tips to improve your internal communications:
- Practice small talk
- Ask questions and repeat
- Never forget a name
- Give timely recognition
- Tailor messages to your audience
- Keep messages brief and clear
For more details on Cord’s tips, click here.
As with any messaging, for HR to improve communications, you need to focus on speaking your audience’s language. That means if you’re talking to your employees, don’t try to overcomplicate things with legal jargon or talk around the core message you want to get across.
Write Better Memos
Ahhh, the dreaded memo.
You hate getting them. But at the same time, you need to send them.
So how can you make this mundane and oft-ignored message more effective?
1. Is this important enough to warrant a memo?
Make sure whatever action you are requesting or information that you are sending is absolutely necessary. When you send out worthless messages to employees (or anyone), then they’ll start getting ignored and when you actually have something important to say no one will be paying attention.
2. Be concise up front.
Get your core message whittled down and right up front. Give your readers a one sentence explanation in the header of your memo or top of the email. This way you’ll be sure that they read the top and get the point, and then if they want more info they can continue to read on.
3. Explain more details second, but only if necessary.
Don’t waste anyone’s time with too many words or fluff.
As the famous quote reads (in varying ways), “Sorry for the long letter, but I didn’t have time to shorten it.”
Spend the time to make your message as short as possible, but as long as necessary. It will be appreciated and earn the attention of your employees on future communications.
4. Clearly state the necessary action.
If you need people to do something, don’t imply it and leave them to figure it out. Highlight their next step clearly at the end so they know what to do and how to do it (or how to learn more).
Don’t leave people to have to figure out that something needs to be done, otherwise it will either be completely overlooked or brushed aside as too much cognitive load that comes as an interruption in the middle of their day.
Treat Your Intranet Like Your Public Website
Company intranet sites get useless very quickly. Every department wants their piece of the pie and it becomes a clutter mess of information that ignores every basic best practice of User Experience design.
By treating your internal site like your public site, you can better organize your online employee communications efforts which will get your messages across and lead to great employee engagement.
Internal Blog Platform
Just like every company should have a blog that communicates and educates with customers, if you have an intranet then you should have an internal blog to communicate and educate with your employees.
Houlihan’s implemented a new intranet to better communicate with employees and they were surprised at “how big an impact that simple upgrade to communications had, playing a role in improving business outcomes like happier crew members, declining staff turnover, more consistent operations, improved guest satisfaction and higher same-store-sales.”