Headlines, a leading UK-based internal communications agency recently launched an interesting piece of research on strategic internal communication which can be found here.
There are some especially important points for any corporate entity to take away from this research when formulating their own internal communications strategy so we’ve decided to give a summary of the research below:
Why have an internal communications strategy?
There are the reasons for pursuing an internal communications strategy in the first place. The report mentions three areas for which internal communications is vital: engagement, retention and motivation.
Failing to achieve this can have a significant implication on a company’s balance sheet, especially when it comes to retaining staff. According to the latest Chartered Institute of Personnel Development Barometer, the cost of staff turnover now averages £7,750 for every job leaver. This is given further credence by a report from Investors in People suggesting that managers believe they are engaging with staff, but that in many cases, employees do not agree.
Building upon this, a Financial Times report drew a clear link between employee motivation and financial results. The take-home message from all of this is that companies need to be constantly seeking employee feedback and refining their management approaches based on this, having mechanisms that facilitate this feedback, and, in turn, communicating to employees changes of internal policy based on this.
Best practice for implementing positive change
Internal change in a company can encompass everything from rebranding and restructuring to more seismic events like a company’s acquisition or mass redundancies. Part of what’s important about internal communication is that employees feel they’re getting the whole picture about matters such as these, this means that managers need to be as transparent as they possible can be. Honesty, when communicated well, is appreciated by most even though the news itself might be widely considered to be negative.
With regards to specific changes concerning the nature of internal communication itself, the report draws clear attention to the fact that a variety of methods are needed to communicate material like company newsletters, including both print and “e-channel” (e-mails, intranets, apps) so that the employee themselves can choose that which they feel most comfortable with. Digital was emphasized as giving communications departments a clearer idea of how widely read any particular newsletter or employee-aimed publication was, owing to analytics packages.
Perhaps most importantly, the supporting technology behind e-zines now allows IC teams to monitor and measure readership, down to speciﬁc pages and stories, or time spent viewing. This provides an instant insight into how effective the communication has been and supports constant improvement and reﬁnement.
The disadvantages of some the more traditional methods, such as the intranet, are giving some treatment in Headline’s paper as well as other sources.
A common thread is that they are perceived to deliver little by way of return on investment, requiring extensive management and updating, usually through a CMS, with very low readership uptake. Similar problems occur with employee communication material distributed by e-mail, with very few employees reading what they considered to be superfluous e-mails.
Ultimately companies want to adopt internal communication strategies and methods that help them to save money and generate more productivity from their workforce. The Headline study underscores that new digital channels are an important part of achieving these goals.
New digital technologies offer a wealth of additional possibilities. They can engage many employees instantly, at different locations, and in an increasingly rich, entertaining and interactive way. This helps companies build well-informed, committed.
We predict corporate communications will help the corporate market become of the defining growth areas of digital publishing as a whole in the coming years.
Headlines is one of the UK’s leading internal comms agencies. Based in Milton Keynes, the team won four IoIC 2013 awards – including the Best Use of Digital.
For more information about Headlines, visit the Headlines website at http://headlines.uk.com/.