When you think of internal comms, what immediately springs to mind? Perhaps a monthly company newsletter announcing new hires, leavers, births or Sally in HR getting married. Or that repetitive monthly email reminding you to cast your vote for ’employee of the month’. Not particularly exciting or inspiring. However for today’s businesses, internal comms is fast becoming a cucial tool. Especially when it comes to communicating and managing digital change within a business.
I’m sure ‘digital disruption’ must be the most over-used business phrase of the last two years but there is no denying that digital transformation is now taking root in even the most conservative of organisations. Digital transformation, whether it’s implementing a specific new technology solution or an entire organisation wide digital strategy, needs to be communicated to employees. And, crucially it needs to be adopted by them to ensure that your programme isn’t one big expensive failure. Enter internal comms.
From Partner to Graduate and everyone in between
First and foremost, any internal comms strategy needs to have a pretty good understanding of who it needs to communicate to. In most large organisations the employee audience can be pretty diverse. From Senior Management or Partner level, who may have been with the company for most of their careers, to young graduate trainees fresh out of Uni.
There may also be specific job roles within an organisation that will be particularly affected by the change. Tailoring your communications and messaging to highlight the key benefits of the new solution or strategy to certain employee groups is crucial. Understanding where you are most likely to come up against resistance to change and ensuring that they feel involved in the process from early on can really help overcome any grumbling. A little extra hand holding goes a long way.
Channels and Champions
Of course you’re going to need to explain why you are making the change and inform employees what actions they need to take as part of this. Inevitably, for most organisations, email will play its part. However, the snag being that we’re all guilty of ignoring emails that don’t need our immediate attention and then forgetting to look at them again, so don’t rely too heavily on this. Consider other channels such as impactful short videos, micro-sites to host more detailed information, desk drops and office launches to grab peoples’ attention and get them engaged and listening. That way when emails with important information do come through, they’re less likely to ‘file’ them in the trash folder.
Having said that, the most effective vehicle for communication are your employees. Find your champions, people on the ground who are engaged and enthusiastic, get them to act as ambassadors for the change. Despite all the different channels at our disposal today, word of mouth is still the most effective form of advertising.
Internal vs External
It is one thing to recognise the value of internal comms, but another to ensure it is carried out effectively. Many organisations may not have an internal comms function. If they do, it may be one person in the marketing department and it’s pretty unlikely that they have a good understanding of what it means to successfully implement technological change within a business.
For organisations looking to implement digital change, internal comms can be a real blocker. So, in many cases they are looking outside of their organisations to external communications experts, who approach an internal comms project in the same way they would an external comms or marketing campaign. In fact, both your internal and external comms strategy and objectives should closely align to be truly effective.
Ultimately the success of any digital transformation programme comes down to whether employees embrace and adopt that change. Businesses must go beyond engaging with their employees, to compel them to change their working behaviours. Effective internal comms is the key to effecting that change.