The start to any communications plan is understanding who you are trying to reach with your messaging. Nine times out of 10 everyone will prioritise: their customers, their brokers/underwriters, their investors/shareholders – but will mention their employees last, almost as an afterthought. Yet your employees are arguably your most important audience. Businesses are quite rightly concerned with what is said about them externally and how they are represented in the media, to their clients and in relation to their peers, but a business is nothing without its people.
Everyone who works for your business should be an advocate of the firm, they should understand the business’ ambition, direction and goals. Ultimately people want to understand how they fit into the company’s strategy and future and the role that they can play in achieving the company’s ambitions. They also want to understand how the business is benefiting society, whether socially, environmentally or both. This is where effective internal communications can be a competitive differentiator.
Employees’ expectations of their employer and its leadership team have also changed in response to the political and economic environment they find themselves in. Deloitte’s latest Global Millennial Survey found that Millennials and Generation Z are sceptical of business’ motives and do not think highly of leaders’ impact on society or their trustworthiness; ultimately there is an ongoing misalignment between what millennials prioritise and what they perceive to be a business’s purpose. 76% of respondents felt that businesses focus on their own agendas rather than considering wider society and that they don’t have any ambition beyond wanting to make money (64%).
In an age where employees have more choice about where they work, your internal communications strategy can be your differentiator, a tool to attract and retain your employees. A recent survey of western and northern Europe and North America, conducted by Unit4 explored what employees think of their chief executives. The survey found that British workers were more likely to feel that their CEO was distant with only 25% having met the CEO vs 42% of workers globally. Less than half of British workers felt the CEO listened to and cared about their employees – that’s a serious problem and denotes a lack of senior engagement. If more than half your workforce don’t feel like the CEO cares then there is a disengagement and disillusion issue, which ultimately could affect employee, productivity and their desire to remain at the company.
The executive team needs to be proactive and ensure that their employees feel involved in what the organisation stands for and wants to achieve. Take the time to understand what your people care about, what they expect from the business and how the organisation can respond.
What steps can you take?
- Your strategy: when did you last assess and review your internal communications strategy? Is it fit for purpose? Are you clear on your messaging?
- Listen to your employees: don’t assume to know what they want, it is far better to ask. Have you conducted a survey to find out what your people think? Do you hold regular feedback sessions?
- Townhalls: when was the last time you held a townhall or spoke to your employees about the business’s objectives, vision and values, and purpose?
- Local reach: if you have a global operation, how often do you visit the local offices? Do you vary where you hold company-wide meetings i.e alternating board meeting locations so employees feel included?
To discuss your internal communications strategy in more detail and how we can help, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org on 0207 562 4444.