“All corporate communications start from within.
A company’s true character is expressed by its people.”
– Employee Communication Master Class, RSM Erasmus
The beauty of studying further while working is that you get updated with the latest trends in your field and combine the application with your own experience. In the case of RSM Executive MSc in Corporate Communication, I get to try my hand in all areas of corporate communication possible.
The Employee Communication Master Class was full of new research and a whole lot of fun. With the world of work turned upside down since COVID-19 hit, the area of internal communication has become even more relevant. One of the major findings of the latest Institute of Public Relations’ research published on this field is:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had positive outcomes on employee engagement, satisfaction, collaboration, and trust in companies.”
Since working from home mid-March, I have been involved in the first internal e-newsletter of my organisation. It is only one of the many, many internal communication tools out there but it has made me reflect once again on why internal communication is so special.
Here are my own reflections:
1. You are part of the community
Internal or employee communication is the only corporate communication discipline that I could think of where you, the specialist, is part of the stakeholder pool.
With other communication disciplines, we usually deal with stakeholders who are far removed from us. We get to know them during events (usually one-time), through surveys or other communication tools such as telephone or email but nothing compares to being there on the workfloor with your stakeholders. And just how cool is that?
This means that you can infuse your coffee breaks with researching your stakeholders. What makes them tick? What do they like to hear from leadership? Do they have questions they would like to ask but couldn’t voice out?
2. You can directly impact the corporate culture
Do you want to build a culture of joy in the workplace? Internal communication has huge power to maintain or change an organisation’s culture. You don’t even have to set up big communication programs. The stories you share whether from the employees themselves or from curated outside content can have huge impact on someone’s mood. The words you choose and angles you take can empower or make someone feel defeated.
Do you write about problems or solutions in your employee newsletter? Do you profile everyday heroes? Do you connect employees to one another by showcasing interests?
In our e-newsletter, I once asked colleagues if there are books they would recommend for other colleagues to read since I heard that a lot of people have had the chance to catch up on their reading time as they stay at home. One colleague shared David Epstein’s “Range” which is also in my reading list. This little exercise showed shared interests which can lead to genuine connections.
And how important is connection in the workplace you must be asking? According to this study, having “friends” in the workplace supports employee retention.
3. You provide calm amidst the storm
When the going gets tough, audiences want to know more. In the case of COVID-19, employees want to know what leaders are doing, how others are coping and what the plans are for the future. Is the office still standing?
In every single virtual staff meeting, colleagues would especially mention that they are enjoying the e-newsletter. While it doesn’t include thought-provoking content, it includes stories that inform, make people smile or simply make them realise, “I thought I was the only one!” And that expression is the ultimate connection phrase, isn’t it?
Correct and updated information calms people down. Sprinkle some humor or images of employees from their work-from-home fort and the calm turns into a smile. Wouldn’t it make your day to know you just made someone smile?
4. There is a lot of room for creativity
While not new, internal communication has been neglected for a very long time and is gaining new ground. Especially now with organisations working from home and lots more swearing that their employees can work from home as much as they want to. Every new ground is ripe for experimentation: from mobile apps to social leaders, data-driven cultures and personalisation. It calls for an open mind, strategy and creativity. And from what I know from my colleagues, the ability to create is one of the things that brought us into this field.
In other words
Community. Culture. Calm. Creativity. All of these make internal communication a special area of corporate communication. It puts the employees at the center of the mission which is the foundation of every successful organisation. And you know what they say about happy employees — they are more engaged, more motivated which is good for the bottomline. #
- Employee Communication Master Class, RSM Erasmus University
- Gurchiek, K. 2014. Survey: Workplace Friends Important Retention Factor. Retrieved from: https://www.shrm.org/ResourcesAndTools/hr-topics/employee-relations/Pages/workplace-friendships.aspx
- Institute for PR. 2020. Special Report: How Companies are Engaging Employees during COVID-19. Retrieved from: https://instituteforpr.org/how-companies-are-engaging-employees-during-covid-19/