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3 Internal Communications Beliefs You Need to Rethink

Posted by Sandy Yu on 7.26.2018

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Internal communications are essential to an organization’s success. If information is siloed or communication breaks down, employees cannot work at peak productivity. Luckily, most HR and internal communications teams are doing a great job.

Here at EmployeeChannel, we recently surveyed 400 HR executives, 400 internal communicators, and 400 employees. The goal was to determine employees' expectations and perceptions about their employers' communication strategies, as well as how HR and other internal communicators can bridge any gaps.

We found 70 percent of employees 'agree' or 'strongly agree' that, in general, their HR and internal communication teams keep them informed and updated. While this is good news, it's important not to get complacent.

In fact, when you dig deeper into the results of our survey, you see that there are some generally-accepted schools of thought on internal communication that don’t align with reality. By examining these differences, HR and internal communication teams can improve the flow of information in the organization.

Here are three myths about internal communications that don’t hold up:

Myth #1: Email is dead or dying

When email hit the workplace, it was a game-changer. Organizations could communicate quicker and more effectively. But technology has evolved, giving rise to other forms of communication like video calling and instant messaging. As a result, many people believe email is on its way out.

Yet, our survey found that just as many employees say they receive most information through email as they do other methods. This leaves communications professionals feeling trapped. Do they stick with aging email technology? Or do they adopt a new system that possibly annoys employees?

Luckily, there’s another option. By putting together a multi-channel communication strategy, organizations get the familiarity of email and the effectiveness of newer forms of technology.

Take action: When adding a new channel, think about how it will improve communication, what type of communications you will use it for, and when to best use this new channel. A wonderful multi-channel system needs to work in concert with established tools like email. It needs to be clear for the entire team that each method has its time and place.

Myth #2: All communication is good communication

Many communication professionals feel that there’s no such thing as too much information. The focus is on constant communication rather than the quality of communication. Because of this, employees get confused or overwhelmed.

This disconnect is most evident with HR professionals. Our survey found that 51 percent of HR professionals believe they are the most effective at communicating within the organization. Unfortunately, only 19 percent of employees agree.

To refine the communication process, it’s important to remember that good communication is a two-way street. HR and internal communication teams need to be collecting as much information as they are sending out.

Take action: Develop a variety of ways to check in with employees to discover if internal communications are useful, comprehensive, and relevant to the employee.

This can be done informally, like asking for feedback while chatting with an employee. Or it can be more structured, like employee surveys and focus groups. Either way, communication teams will be armed with data that reflects the employees experience to improve their processes.

Myth #3: Managers pass on information word-for-word

When asked which department shares information most frequently, almost every department was tied. But when asked which type of employees communicate most effectively, an overwhelming 61 percent of employees said managers.

What explains this strong preference? Part of the reason is that managers work more closely with their employees. They know their roles and personalities better than HR and internal communication professionals. This allows managers to filter information in a way that it is relevant and resonates with individuals.

While communication professionals can learn from this technique, it does create a problem: how can the organization ensure all the right messages are being communicated? To solve this issue, communication professionals need to work directly with managers to craft more effective messaging.

Take action: Meet with managers to discuss exactly what you want to communicate. Then have them identify why this information matters to their team.

For example, say the company is changing how they approach customer service. This clearly impacts how customer support and sales employees do their jobs. But how does it benefit marketing professionals or product engineers?

Having these answers will allow you to collaboratively craft an informative message that resonates with each employee.

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Topics: internal communications, human resources, HR misconceptions, employee communication, employee communications

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