When assessing communication and messaging, many companies focus on their presentation to customers and business partners, not the ways in which employees interact with each other. However, making sure that back-and-forth communication is available and in line with the mission of your company can help increase worker productivity and satisfaction. Here are three ways to improve internal communications.
- Respect privacy and boundaries
Many businesses and entrepreneurs are now working from home, whether this was a result of the pandemic or a previous situation due to the nature of your business. This can be a wonderful business perk, especially for people who want to maintain careers while their spouse moves or who need a more flexible schedule as they raise children or serve as caretakers for other family members. However, working from home can also blur the lines of times for rest and privacy, and not all employees may have homes large enough for separate workspaces.
To help prevent burnout and uncomfortable situations, set guidelines that help protect employees’ work/life boundaries ahead of time so that employees are aware of reasonable expectations placed on them, their coworkers, and managers. This communication may include expectations for when video and audio are necessary, what backgrounds are allowed, when the company will provide technology or when the employee should use their own, and what the expected working hours are and if those are firm or flexible.
Due to the pandemic causing children and spouses to be in the same workspaces, teams may need to have conversations about handling sensitive information as well as forgiveness and flexibility for families working in small spaces together. This discussion is particularly helpful for preventing burnout of skilled female employees who statistically have more caretaking burdens.
- Live up to set expectations
Once you’ve set guidelines for how and when employees should communicate, make sure to fairly enforce these boundaries. Obviously, there are exceptions to every rule, and guidelines for communication should not be so onerous that employees don’t develop interpersonal relationships, mentorships, and team relationships. If an open-door policy and space for airing both compliments and concerns are part of the work culture you want to foster, then each employee should have a space to feel heard. It is frustrating to be told that you can raise questions and then be silenced or face consequences when you do.
When developing an internal communications plan, make sure to think about how communication between employees aligns with the mission and goals of your company. If funding, employee input, training, and relationship to the products and services you provide are considered when making a communications plan, you are much more likely to stick with the goals and guidelines you settle upon. Does the way you communicate internally excite and develop trust among staff in the same way that marketing should excite the customer? If so, you are developing not only good team dynamics but also brand ambassadors for your business.
- Try something new—or end what’s not working
Part of ensuring you have strong internal communications that help employees avoid confusion or missed information is to include internal communications when you are reviewing and assessing your business plan. Don’t simply look at your marketing, customer engagements, and business partners when determining what technology, procedures, and connection points are working. Instead, make sure to take feedback on how and when employees are exchanging information inside the company to increase efficiency and deal with concerns before they become problematic.
Strong internal communications include strengthening timelines for projects and making sure you are efficiently using employees where their skills and time are needed. Make sure to have metrics in place for understanding which internal communications methods employees use and are responding to. Do they read employee newsletters and bulletins? Which internal channels are most used when teams work together? Do employees interact with social media for the company? Is important information getting through or getting lost in too much information?
Set measurable questions to keep track of. Work to identify employees who are early adopters of technology or who are most affected by internal communications to seek out feedback and suggestions from. If you have a multigenerational and diverse workforce, acknowledge that employees may have different levels of comfort with what internal communications look like, work to find best practices that include everyone, and train those who need help.
You may also consider outsourcing some work, such as content writing, marketing, communication planning and training, or other needed work to a contract service like Powerhouse Planning. Powerhouse Planning is here to provide skilled workers for a variety of needs to help your company thrive amidst growth and change, such as navigating the pandemic landscape for business communications.