What Value does Internal Comms add? Try these six steps to keeping your best employees for a start!

Losing employees is an administrative burden and a cost. However, it is more than that. It is a change to dynamics in the workplace. The departure of an employee can be unsettling in

It's not happy employees but engaged ones you want to stay

It’s not happy employees but engaged ones you want to stay

the period leading up to them leaving and afterwards, plus there are issues related to whether they are leaving or being pushed.

This is no small concern, after all 40% of workers will start looking for a new job within the first half of this year, and 69% say they’re already been looking, at least keeping an eye out for opportunities. Meanwhile, people are habitually changing jobs on a regular basis, with 25- to 34-year-olds currently holding their jobs for an average 2.7 years, down from 3 years in 1983.

A Different Take on Human Capital?

A Different Take on Human Capital?

Other issues include knowledge management. You have perhaps trained those leaving, and certainly added to the skill-base they take with them. They are taking that knowledge with them, and your organization is left with the job of replenishing or salvaging what you can of their knowledge before they leave.

People leaving is also a recruitment issue about how well staff are retained, and what people say about you when they leave. Disgruntled employees and ex-employees can put off a lot of talent.

There are doubtless many other reasons you can think of why keeping your best employees is a jolly good idea, but let’s look at the role internal communications can play in doing just that, by following a five step programme.

  1. Involvement: having an internal communications approach which involves employees keeps their sense of belonging, and has the added attraction of making it harder for them to make a break. However, it’s not happyemployees you want (though it’s nice when they’re happy), but engaged and involved employees.
  2. Value: valuing employees, not just financially but in terms of what they contribute, goes a long way and has to move beyond the rhetoric of “values” to provide the support to help employees value each other in their day-to-day work through their words and actions.
  3. Work/Life balance: promoting a work/life balance and supporting leisure or rest away from work communicates values far more than any campaign slogan can achieve. The boasts of “look how hard I’m working!” or “I was working until 2am!” are not attitudes that play out so well today, and behaving in this way can be counterproductive in any case.
  4. Reward: it’s one thing to advocate reward, it’s another to do so effectively. This is not just about pay packets, people feel rewarded in many ways at work. Company awards, recognition in the internal magazine, a chance to speak at the company annual staff meeting are among the various ways you can communicate reward. People are rewarded not just by money but also by their experience of being an employee, and this is often forgotten.
  5. The path ahead: how inspiring are your internal communications? Do they tell the story of what your organization is doing? If employees can visualize their future in the organization they are more likely to stay.

As with all things, internal communications overlaps with other functions when you look at the implications of this five-step programme, but one value you can offer immediately is to start the dialogue internally that can shape the future.

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Seven Internal Comms Steps to Merger Heaven!

 How to Communicate Internally for Success in a Merger – Part 2

You may have sold the merger to investors, but you need to sell it to your people. This makes internal communications more like a political campaign than a traditional internal communication plan.

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As explained in Part 1, the dialogue a newly merged company needs to embark upon is one of building trust. Here are some steps communicators can implement to promote trust in their company, and which help to create a strategy and a programme for internal communications change for employee success.

Step 1:

Charity begins at home: get your communicators working together at the earliest opportunity, starting with workshops and all-hands calls. This will help you identify the skills you can leverage, promote common teamwork in the new paradigm and break down barriers to trust. If communicators cannot break down the silos, then what hope for the business units?

Step 2:
Such workshops can also be promoted in the integration work of the business units, and communications can be part of this by training managers to communicate better. This is a new business, so the old ways and perceptions need to be challenged by a new and transparent way of communicating

Step 3:
Get the CEO and leaders out and about, visiting sites or holding townhalls. You may have sold the merger to investors, but you need to sell it to your people. This makes internal communications more like a political campaign than a traditional internal communication plan. You want hearts and minds, and direct engagement will save a host of hours and days crafting messages, brochures and e-mails. Treat employees like swing voters and remember, people often vote for they guy they met than the one who stays away from the constituency, whatever the message or the traditional ties.

Step 4:
Undertake an effective employee feedback programme, using an external author so you get an honest view of what employees are thinking and feeling. They are often keen to embrace the new company, but they are looking for a new source of certainty. They will offer helpful advice to management. They will also tell you what was wrong in the old company, because they may feel there is an opportunity to change things for the better in the new company.

Step 5:
You are learning about the other side of the merger yourself, and may find pockets of poor morale, since there may be a perception of being on “the losing side.” You need to find out more and seek ways to engage these employees, and ensure they are fit and ready for the journey.

Step 6:
From branding to daily use of language, you need to build a new verbal and visual language that engages everyone. Old company visuals and language reinforce the past. The new vocabulary can help employees feel engaged. Where old materials are kept, it should be for good reason and understandable to employees.

Step 7:
Finally, understand one thing, employees are feeling vulnerable in the wake of a merger or acquisition, and they have many questions. They are also, on the whole, reasonable people willing to give the benefit of the doubt. As in all internal communications, treat employees with respect, speak the truth to them, and explain the rationale for an action or holding back on detail, and they will be accepting, so long as it resonates with them and rings true.

 
These are just some of the first steps to thinking through an effective internal communications approach. Engaging your employees at the earliest stage in a merger, indeed in any change management, will help you take them with you on the exciting journey your business leaders want the company to take to achieve enduring success.

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