A workplace should be more than simply a place where employees carry out their jobs. It should also be a place where they feel empowered to grow, develop, contribute to the organization, and feel the direct impacts they have.
Think of your workplace like a car: Communication functions like the car’s internal computer, sending the correct signals to disparate parts so they can function, work together, and deliver a top-notch finished product or service. The best way to create this environment is to implement tools and processes that promote internal communications.
Case in point: 71% of frontline workers state that new communication tools increase their productivity, which improves the bottom line with timely communication between head offices, team leads, and frontline workers. Because better communication tools and processes also lead to less time spent in meetings, frontline managers can focus on their tasks while eliminating nonvalue-added steps.
As companies navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of internal communications becomes even clearer: An Edelman study recently found that workers currently trust their employers more than they trust the government when it comes to information about the pandemic.
During these turbulent times, your workers require empathy and need to feel safe. It’s absolutely essential to remain in close contact with your teams and keep them informed of ever changing regulations and policies that impact the way they work.
The Case for Revamping Your Communications
Over the long run, businesses that implement effective internal communications strategies tend to have more aligned and engaged employees who outperform in their roles. This is because they’re enabled to easily access up-to-date information and freely share ideas. As a result, companies reap many benefits, including improved employee morale, reduced turnover, better customer service, and increased innovation through collaboration.
Beyond that, digital communication tools can also provide a big boost to a business’s bottom line. Employees often waste precious working hours searching for documents and information because companies don’t store these materials in a strategic fashion. We know that, on average, employees waste about 8% of their working time per week, according to Deloitte. Depending on your company’s size, that could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars spent every month on simply searching for information to do the job right.
To make it easier for your frontline workers to find what they need, opt for a single point of contact that includes all their communications and tools.
3 Steps for Facilitating Impactful Internal Communications
Currently, not nearly enough businesses capitalize on the benefits of internal communications. In fact, an alarming 60% of companies have “no long-term strategy or vision” for internal communication. The reason behind this is nothing new: It’s because business leaders have historically resisted the adoption of new communication tools and strategies.
For example, when email first emerged, a common reaction to the technology was: “Why do I need an email account when I can just send a fax to my employees?” It took several years before companies wholeheartedly embraced email and made it a natural part of daily communication.
Today, emails are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to workplace communication. Widespread smartphone usage has unlocked an entirely new world of options. Plus, 80% of the global workforce is made up of frontline workers who aren’t tethered to a desk. It’s clearly time for companies to embrace a mobile-first communication strategy that effectively and efficiently loops in every employee in real-time.
The following steps will help your company revamp its internal communications infrastructure:
1. Audit your current systems and processes
Conduct a comprehensive assessment of how your company currently communicates. Then, identify all of the different tools and methods each team uses to exchange information. Keep in mind that managers and executives have completely different workflows than frontline workers. Leaders should either spend time in the field to better understand how these individuals communicate with each other or conduct a series of in-depth conversations to ensure they have an accurate picture and can effectively coach employees.
Ultimately, you’ll likely end up with a long list of communication methods, including emails, phone calls, text messages, digital files, paper documents, and more. From there, your goal should be to eliminate manual paper-based processes and narrow the list down to as few digital avenues as possible. Streamlined internal communications will help you ensure consistent messaging and better organizational alignment.
2. Give every employee a connection and voice.
Each employee at your company should have a unique digital identity. Regardless of their roles, employees should be able to log into an online communication portal that allows them to send individual or group messages, access important documents, and read companywide announcements.
In many cases, companies will spend millions of dollars on complex digital systems but grant access only to a small group of employees. Many other companies will fail to properly utilize the tool itself, and the project ultimately fizzles out because employees refuse to adopt the system.
In reality, you don’t need a complicated piece of software to accomplish your communication goals. A simple, intuitive, and relatively inexpensive mobile app could do the trick — and your workers will thank you for offering this option. After all, modern-day employees are digitally savvy and want to communicate with colleagues using their smartphones.
Likewise, encourage your frontline employees to speak up using these communication tools. How you encourage that conversation will depend on your organization, but you should be able to understand their perspective and offer a sense of belonging by implementing a bottom-up communication strategy.
3. Follow up and seek feedback.
After meetings, many companies overlook an essential element of effective internal communications: following up with employees. Upload a recap of every meeting to your digital platform and ensure everyone is clear on the messaging and aligned around the next steps.
And don’t forget that internal communications should be a two-way street. Throughout the year, host a combination of town halls, webinars, and digital Q&A sessions that allow workers across all roles to share ideas and insights with the leadership team. Surveys and polls are another effective way to collect feedback — whether they follow meetings or events or simply function as a quick pulse-check. All in all, provide ample opportunities for each employee at your company to let his or her voice be heard.
It’s time for business leaders to start thinking more critically about how communication ties into productivity, profitability, and safety — especially during a global pandemic. By clinging onto inefficient, outdated communication tools, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to create a stronger, safer, and more productive workforce.
Daniel Sztutwojner is chief customer officer and co-founder of Beekeeper, the single point of contact for your frontline workforce. Beekeeper’s mobile platform brings communications and tools into one place to improve productivity, safety, and agility. Daniel is passionate about helping businesses operate more efficiently. He has a background in applied mathematics and more than eight years of experience in sales and customer success.