What makes certain types of internal communications good? Conversely, what makes other types of employee communications bad? The barometer of quality isn’t always so black and white. What we do know is that poor internal communications can have a ripple effect and lead to inefficiencies, job dissatisfaction and high turnover among employees.
To help you avoid such disastrous consequences, we’ve outlined three of the biggest internal communications blunders to avoid in 2019.
Oversharing the wrong things
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Sharing is caring.” In most cases, this is true. But in the world of employee communications and engagement, this could actually end up backfiring and make employees less likely to check and respond to messages related to the company, products and promotions.
Let’s take, for example, a hotel brand with over 100 destinations in 20 countries. The cleaning staff at the hotel’s venue in New York City don’t necessarily need or care to know about upcoming promotional offers. That information won’t impact their ability to perform their daily tasks and it certainly won’t make them more efficient. In fact, it would probably have the reverse effect – and distract from their tasks at hand. Not only will it be a distraction, but it will also become a source of frustration and aggravation.
The more frustrated and aggravated your frontline staff become (because of your spammy, irrelevant messages), the less inclined they’ll be to check internal communications messages regularly. If they don’t check their messages from colleagues, managers and even the head office, they could end up missing an important message that actually is related to their role/daily tasks.
When was the last time your CEO sent a useful message (that wasn’t about company news) to your staff? Better yet, how often does your leadership team communicate with your frontline staff? If you answered ‘I don’t know’ or ‘once a year’ to these two questions, then leadership isolation is something your company is suffering from.
More often than not, companies assign members of the corporate communications, internal communications or HR departments to send messages to all staff. While this may make sense for businesses that have desk-based workers, it’s not necessarily the right approach for companies with a large portion of non-desk workers (think retailers, hotels, entertainment venues and manufacturing facilities).
If the same few people (in the same departments) are always the ones posting messages and sharing company news, it can make your frontline staff feel like the leadership team are purposely distancing themselves from the staff and don’t care about how each employee’s role contributes to the company’s larger purpose, values and goals. It’s important that your leadership team are actively communicating and engaging with your frontline staff – beyond the generic ‘welcome the latest C-level executive to the management team’ memo.
Over-reliance on technology
The average adult spends 5.9 hours per day with digital media – that’s up from 3 hours a day in 2009, according to Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report. In many ways, technology has improved our lives. We can find directions to a new restaurant in a matter of seconds with the Google Maps app on our smartphones. We can get a personally curated list of news (based on our content preferences). We can take, upload and post photos across multiple social media accounts, in a matter of seconds. Best of all, we can communicate with frontline employees, 24/7, in a way that’s smart, relevant and fun thanks to internal communications platforms/apps.
But for all its prowess, technology shouldn’t be a replacement for human interaction. While digital communication makes it easy and fast to send/receive messages from various team members, managers and even the head office, it can also cause confusion and lead to misunderstandings, frustrations and tension between colleagues. This is even more true when you have employees in different countries who speak different languages. What’s written in a message or comment or update on a technology platform could easily be misunderstood or lead to inaccuracies or inefficiencies in tasks at hand. In such instances, it is sometimes easier to speak to a person face-to-face, if you have the opportunity.
The key is to find the right balance between too much and just enough technology to improve the quality of internal communications. Leverage the power of internal communications technology to let restaurant employees know about new menu items that are launching or are being discontinued. Inform retail store managers instantly about technical difficulties/outages that affect their cash registers/tills (payment machines). But at the same time, know when enough is enough and don't substitute technology for human interaction altogether.
Written by Ragini Bhalla
A veteran in B2B content and communications, Ragini lives and breathes for storytelling, traveling (up to over 50 countries and still so many more to explore) and trying out new foods.