Another interesting day this time discussing employee engagement and the broad subject of internal communication. The workshop organised by the PRCA was attended by a wide range of people in-house and agency, internal communication specialist and communicators. There were some interesting theories and discussions that took place.
Internal communication has only recently been recognised as a hugely valuable sector of communication. It is one of the positive aspects of the financial crisis bringing the need to change that how staff are kept informed is now seen as an essential part of the activity that takes place.
I was particularly taken by the discussion that internal communication has moved from communication, through to engagement and now was moving to advocacy. It has always been the case that frontline staff are the most important for any business as they are the standard by which the organisation will be judged. They are the ones who can show the best and the worst of the business. If they are fully informed and understand what the organisation is about and are able to articulate it then the experience people get is more likely to be a positive one.
One of the attendees today mentioned the importance of staff as advocates and the need to share corporate messaging. All of which sounds fine. However, we need to be clear that we are not spamming staff with information. We also have to ensure that the information we share is not corporate ‘spin’. If the employee experience of work is not the same as the way we are describing it then there will be no trust in the communication. It is the same as with customers don’t tell them you are doing a great job unless that is what they will experience.
Another key aspect is authenticity which means the voice that employees hear must be real, honest, truthful and have integrity. Too often senior management think if they say the right things it will be fine. They can’t just say the words they have to really believe it so that others will believe it.
Above all as communicators we all have to understand how internal communication works, what channels are available and how it all joins together for maximum benefit. For the future we need to remember authenticity, employee experience and advocacy as where we want to be.