This blog post is a summary of an interview I gave about Employee Communication Strategy. What’s contained? Thoughts on the growing relevance of employee communication and how it has to change. Additionally, I touch the aspect of the business case behind employee communication.
Interviewer: Many blog posts, podcasts, and videos you published recently cover the topic of employee or corporate communication. Why do you focus on that topic so heavily?
Benjamin: There’s not one single reason but many aspects why I am focusing on that topic that much. Actually, it’s a combination.
First of all, I’ve always considered our products as tools to drive employee communication or improve internal corporate communication. Although, we’ve never put that on a pedestal. But even more important are the following two facts.
I genuinely believe that COVID-19 is going to disrupt corporate and office life massively. Probably to a greater extend, most of us can imagine. Home office, remote work, smaller teams, Zoom — that all will become the new normal. In that context, effective employee communication will be one of the essential drivers of a company’s success.
However, companies have to discuss how to adapt their corporate and employee communication strategies to the new world. Most of the companies haven’t even started!
Interviewer: What do you mean in particular? Where’s the need for adaption?
Benjamin: In my opinion, companies —first and foremost— have to adjust the goals of their employee communication strategies. It is no longer —solely— about informing employees. In de-centralized structures with less direct, face-2-face communication, the purpose of employee communication is much broader.
It is about motivating employees, creating emotions, building knowledge, and creating awareness but also insights. Therefore, it needs different content. And, more importantly, companies have to share so much more content with there employees. Content-at-scale is the right word in that context.
Mobile-Only Is A Crucial Pillar Of Any Employee Communication Strategy
Finally, employee communication has to utilize today’s technological possibilities. From my perspective, mobile-only should be a crucial pillar of each employee communication strategy.
Interviewer: Let’s quickly talk about the aspect of mobile-only. I’m sure that there are still employees that prefer information via email or intranet. What do you tell those people?
Benjamin: Let me answer that question from a different point of view. First of all, I don’t think it makes sense to utilize all possible channels […email, intranet, printed newspaper, video conference, etc.]. Simply because it is so inefficient. Mobile-only means focusing on a mobile app. Nothing else. And yes, there’s the risk that you won’t reach a tiny number of employees. We all know the arguments, like “some older people might not be capable of using these apps.”
But let’s be frank: Even my grandma, she’s 84 years, has a smartphone and sends me messages on Facebook. So, in my opinion, this is something the HR team has to take care off. Build or buy a proper app, with a perfect UI and UX. Don’t go for a 3rd class, hard-to-use, and buggy solution. Second, communicate and establish thorough change management.
Interviewer: What about the content? What’s in your mind when it comes to content sharing?
Benjamin: This is definitely a super crucial aspect when it comes to an employee communication strategy. First —and as mentioned earlier— I think that it needs different content. Content that drives emotions, motivation, or creates insights and knowledge. That can be everything, for example, external content, news websites, social media platforms, like Twitter or Instagram, and blogs or podcasts. From an internal point-of-view, the latest information, especially key performance indicators (KPIs), from a company’s different departments.
An Employee Communication Strategy Must Focus on Automated Content
Now, here’s the critical aspect. I strongly recommend focusing on the automated creation of content. It shouldn’t be up to your staff to create content. On the contrary, your employee communication strategy should contain smart technologies that create hundreds and thousands of content pieces every day!
Interviewer: Sounds a lot. Don’t you think that creates an information overflow?
Benjamin: Careful. I didn’t say that each content piece should be distributed to all employees. Actually, there are two steps to consider after creating content. The first step is to assess the relevance of the content automatically. For example, you can calculate 1,000 KPIs every hour, but that doesn’t mean that they are all relevant. Probably only 5-10 are essential. In a second step, you should distribute content super contextual. That means you have to know the preferences of your employees.
Interviewer: There’s much technology involved. How should companies handle that?
Benjamin: Of course, I’ve described the perfect vision of a future employee communication strategy. No company needs to start with creating 100,000 content pieces in a day, that are automatically assessed and delivered personalized. It’s a step-by-step approach. However, I think companies must understand the relevance of this strategy and start dipping a toe into the water.
Interviewer: What about the tangible benefits? Can you calculate a return-on-invest (ROI) for such an employee communication strategy?
Benjamin: A question I’m asked frequently. Nonetheless, I think the question doesn’t make sense at all. I always ask the counterquestion, “what’s the ROI of your office.”
No one ever calculated the ROI of an office. However, companies put unbelievably amounts of money into their offices. Was that wasted money? I’d say most often not because companies had a clear goal. They wanted to create a workplace where people are motivated, create ideas, communicate, exchange insights, and knowledge. All things that are required in the future too. And probably things that get even more important in the future.
But I’m coming back to your first question: The office won’t have the same relevance in the future as it had in the past. That’s why companies have to be build up new ways to motivate, create emotions, communicate, etc. — this is what employee communication and the used tools is about.