Communicative anxiousness

The number of ways we communicate with each other has exploded with smartphones and rapid connectivity. WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, Slack, LinkedIn, Snapchat and last but not least Office365.

As a company we often open up for more or less official channels in all these products. Management and communication departments expel their sighs of relief when new launches are ready and they have covered another channel in hopes of reaching the employees, but they forget that all the channels need to be filled with content as well.

As individuals we are used to a constant new stream, new and more information to scroll through. The risk for us in internal communication is that we don't have enough material when all the stream need to be about internal matters. There is quite simply not enough information to share or enough resources to keep up with the channels.

Channels are managed by third parties with their own development and goals. This culminates in a plethora of competencies to be maintained by the communication department. The setback is only realized when you figure out that the employees don't see all the information, they don't read the content and are even more confused about where to find the information. In the end it's not uncommon that the multitude of channels makes us know even less about what's important for the organization.

My impression is that a lot of this is due to communicative anxiousness. You don't know how to act, there is no strategy, so you implement as many channels as possible based on generic reports like “People online” and the latest edition of Digital Now. Alternatively what people talk about at lunch in hopes that someone will find what their looking for. What you should do is have a strategy for how to work with internal communication. Tools can never be a strategi, it's tactical. Through strategic planning for your employees you can avoid “shiny object syndrome”, something that technology exposes us for more and more.

The trick is to choose tools that are aligned and enable you to execute on your strategy, and contribute tactically over time. Work more on the content and measure engagement and behaviors, not the number of posts. You are communicating for change or enhancing a behavior, not for clicks.

While HR pros can communicate faster and more frequently, a recent report by EmployeeChannel of 1,200 U.S. workers, What Every Employee Wants From Their HR Team, found non-desktop, remote, and office employees all ranked “communicates frequently and effectively with employees” as one of the top two behaviors that creates a positive experience at work. 

This means that as the workforce continues evolving with the Bring Your Device (BYOD) trend, new apps, more remote employees, and new SaaS tools, internal communications will become even more complicated. So, it's crucial for HR pros to team up with company leaders to create a strategic communications plan to enhance employee engagement and improve company-wide business outcomes.