3 Min Read | Perspectives

There’s No Such Thing as Internal Communications

Sep. 26 2022

The meditation app Calm recently laid off 20% of its staff and is currently “revisit[ing] the investment thesis behind every project.”

How do we know this? A sensitive internal memo was leaked to the press. It triggered a tsunami of articles questioning the viability of the company.

Surprise: internal communications don’t stay internal. This has been true for some time: The digital shift has blurred the lines between internal and external communications.

However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic—which has put all communication efforts under the microscope—companies need to finally close the gap between internal and external communications by thinking content-first.

 

Don’t let Google tell your employees who you are

Most internal efforts have never been set up for success. Always the poorer cousin to external communications, they make do with limited resources or are delegated to busy human resource teams.

That languishing is clear: Think about the experience of navigating a cluttered intranet site, bulletin-board style newsletters, or a live-streamed town hall that feels pre-digital in format. Do you really think that’s your employees’ first stop?

No, your employees are getting their news and updates like we all are: through news publications, social media, and word of mouth. Google is their first stop for pressing questions about the company, with the risk of getting incorrect information.

This is where content wins over comms. Content delivers a strong counterbalancing force that helps give your employees the distinctive and tailored information they need while letting you actively shape your company narrative.

 

Effective communications, effective employees, effective formats

Despite looming fears of a coming global recession, the “Great Resignation” is still in full force. A Bureau of Labor Statistics report found that 4.2 million people in the United States left their jobs voluntarily in June. And figures show that EMEA and APAC resignations have jumped as well.

For companies, however, there is a close relationship between stemming this tide of attrition and maintaining strong communications.

Recent research from Harris Poll found that 75% of employees who believe their employers do a good job of communication also highly rate their engagement with their company. Engaged employees stick around.

If communicators want to reap that benefit, they have to meet the standard of content that people want to consume. In the fierce battle for inbox real estate and limited free time, internal content efforts need to be more dynamic, more deliberate, and more narratively driven. Think in stories, not in town halls.

 

More than a CEO update email

The relationship between high-quality executive communications to employees and company performance is clear: 81% of top 100 performing companies are helmed by CEOs who prioritize communications.

Still, far too many executive communications show up as sporadic and skippable all-employee emails.

To break through the attention gap, leaders need to think beyond “sharing the news” comms updates and, instead, stimulate new thinking across organizations, provide context for action, and create permission for change. Producing consistent thought leadership content is a critical way to reach multiple internal and external audiences with these transformative messages.

While stand-alone internal communications are not going to disappear overnight, the complexity of our current landscape demands a more impactful and integrated communications approach that uses high-quality content as its base unit.

The companies that successfully do that will be the ones that recognize the power of internal communications by setting it free.