Colleagues cannot reach each other easily and documents are hard to find… Sounds familiar? Actually you want to improve this, but somehow this issue is never the top priority of the to-do list. This is fully understandable and a lot of companies struggle with the same issue. Just an example: A car manufacturer obviously prefers to manufacture and sell cars. The thing that is often forgotten though, is that the same car manufacturer, with better internal communication, might be even more innovative and thus be able to sell even more cars. When communication improves internally, employees have the opportunity to think along with the company which can lead to new ideas. A nice side effect is that this enhances the organizational culture as well. Research has shown that this can increase the productivity of employees by up to 40%. In this article, we give you eight tips on how to improve internal communication in your organization.
Since “improving internal communication” is a broad concept, this seems to be a very complex process. Of course, it is not always that easy. Communication, human resources, IT, and management – these four departments need to work closely together. You will notice that a lot of patience and the ability to listen to each other are involved. For more than 20 years, Viadesk has been helping companies with such issues. Having had the chance to take a look behind the scenes and talk to all these companies resulted in a successful digital platform where the employees and the organization collaborate and communicate with each other in a practical and valuable way.
We have listed our top 8 findings for organizations that want to improve their internal communication and are ready for the next step. With Viadesk Social Intranet, you have a tool at hand that contributes to this task.
The first tip is concerned with the strategic level on improving the internal communication. As with any major decision, it is important to first properly determine the current situation of the organization. Ask yourself the question “How are we doing now?”, and then write down the answer. The strengths and especially the weaknesses will emerge this way.
After the strengths and weaknesses in internal communication have been defined within the organization, there are three more questions that need to be answered:
By answering these questions, you create an ideal image of what the internal communication should look like. This will give your organization the goal it needs to pursue. Moreover, the answer to these questions provides a baseline measurement. Changes can be compared to this in the future.
A digital platform is nice, but if nobody uses it, there is still no improvement and you are not getting anywhere. People within your organization have to start using the platform. How do you achieve this? Take yourself as an example. What are your reasons for using certain tools? You probably use a tool yourself when it offers a certain added value. This could be that it is fun, or maybe it is very convenient and easy to use. This will be no different for employees within your organization.
This means that it is important to find out what employees think is fun, useful or convenient. If the internal platform is adapted to this, it becomes much more attractive for users to use. So doing research is the next step. Send everyone an email with a short questionnaire about how they feel about content, functionalities or documentation. Questions that can be asked are:
Involving the employees in this process gives you a big advantage, but also the employee appreciates this kind of attention. Research has shown that 47% of employees are never asked how they can improve their work experience. This shows how little staff is listened to. This is rather strange when you realize that these are the people to whom circumstances and working conditions have to be adapted. After all, this leads to more productive employees.
Gradually, top-down communication is becoming a bit old-school. Nowadays not only the management, but also the employees want to be heard. And the great thing is that technology is very suitable for this. Like, share and respond – similar to well-known social media, you will find the same kind of interactions within a social intranet. Documents, news updates, or a photo of company event: any of these updates can be responded to. This gives the company a transparent appearance. It also gives the employee a voice. For example, it is possible for everyone in the organization to start a poll or to ask for sentiments about certain topics.
For example, a few Starbucks employees were discussing a new product on their social intranet. This was picked up by the marketing team. After some research, the new product could be put into use within 24 hours. Ideas from employees were not picked up before. Moreover, the process of launching a new product previously took months. The Starbucks platform therefore offers advantages in several areas.
Top-down communication is not a sin. Before there were better digital possibilities, this flow of communication really proved its worth. So you do not have to change it radically, simply add social elements such as the ability to react immediately. For example, write a monthly column or update from the management. This creates connectedness. Moreover, it gives management a face which shows a human side. Such updates also provide transparency about what the organization is doing and allows to share successes. This creates the feeling that everyone within the company has contributed to the result. But keep in mind: If you agree to send a monthly update, be consistent. When the management keeps its promise, it sets a good example for employees.
Better, faster, more effective and more efficient cooperation between employees is also part of improving internal communication. These four elements mean that people have a much more productive working day. If you opt for a digital platform, choose one with version management. There is nothing more annoying than working in outdated documents. When your social intranet has version management, you always work with the most recent version of documents. Doing double work is therefore a thing of the past.
Due to the shift in commuting, colleagues are less likely tot o work together at one office. If it is difficult to work together physically, what is a good alternative? You may have guessed it… working together in a digital environment. Create a group for each team in your organization. This way, everyone can work together regardless of time and place. Of course, it often happens that people work together between several teams or locations. Give them the opportunity to create their own groups as well.
Groups do not necessarily have to be tied to a team or location. Within their social intranet, the Canadian company Hootsuite (they develop a social media management platform) has a number of remarkable groups. For example, the company has a group in which personnel changes are shared. News about promotions, new or departing colleagues is shared here, so everyone is immediately informed. The Canadian company also has a so-called “shout-out” group. Only positive messages are shared here. This group is set up to promote the corporate culture.
A test group can keep you from making big mistakes. When you implement a new functionality, it only makes sense if it works smoothly. Test with a small group of users whether they agree with the group stucture and find groups clearly divided into toipcs. This way you can also test whether the target group can identify with the content that you are posting. If this is not the case, you can change it before the structure of the social intranet becomes visible to everyone. Is the test group enthusiastic about the implementations? There is a good chance that it will also be a success with the rest of the employees!
The digital platform is live and employees are starting to use it. Well done! But you are not done yet. A social intranet will always need attention. In this phase, it is important that everyone within the company uses the platform. In addition, the platform will (at the very beginning) continue to have functional improvements.
Which functional improvements are those? A good question to pose within the new social intranet! Ask the users for feedback. Use the knowledge of all your colleagues to get the most out of the social intranet. This allows you to communicate directly from both sides and to use the platform in the right way.
In short, the moral of the story is to create a platform that is fun and convenient to use. Ask employees how they see a social intranet, combine their wishes with the goals you have in mind. Create an environment in which all parties involved have the freedom to engage in the conversation. The technology offers the opportunity to use two-way communication. Doing all the above mentioned things will give your internal communication a boost. It is your turn!
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