Why Successful Businesses Put Internal Communications First
If companies treated their customers like they treat their employees, they’d be out of business.
Consumer engagement is big business. Companies spend millions on cutting-edge online marketing tools to promote their goods and services, tracking customer behavior in great detail to deliver a tailored experience. Think about your favorite brands, they all make you feel like you’re the only _______________(fill in the blank). Netflix makes you feel like you’re their only viewer. Amazon makes you feel like you’re their only shopper and Spotify like you’re their only listener. These brands are bucking the trend of engagement. Sadly, little has changed in the way most companies engage with their employees through internal communications.
A combination of globalization, rapid changes in technology—and for many public companies—the increasing pressure to create shareholder value have also impacted the workforce. The sad truth is: If companies treated their customers like they treat their employees, they’d be out of business.
Employee productivity and engagement have never impacted a company’s bottom line more; however across many large US enterprises, communicators are using antiquated tools and approaches to engage their workforces.
How can companies meet their goals if they fail to connect, reach, and engage employees? Engagement is an unbelievably complex problem that I’ve been thinking about for years. I started Cerkl to give internal communicators more advanced technology than even marketing has access to. After speaking to literally hundreds of internal communication professionals from varied industries and companies of every size, it really became a question of empathy.
Use modern tools for modern employee experience
Time and again, I’ve seen these often under-resourced departments face similar challenges. Many IC practitioners talk about the lack of time and staff to create and design engaging messages. They talk about outdated, manual processes that make creating branded, compelling messages difficult. Typing their segments in Outlook is making communication targeting and distribution tedious.
Sadly, most internal communications professionals don’t have easy access to the analytics they need to both know what’s working (and what’s not) – you can’t possibly show the value of your work without data. Measurement is not optional. You can’t expect “a seat at the table” if you don’t speak in numbers. Think about your counterparts in Sales, Marketing, Operations – all numbers. Even fewer IC professionals have access to cross-platform intelligence which requires duplicative efforts to track surface-level metrics across email, intranet, mobile and video. This relegates them to be very tactical, just trying to keep their collective heads above water.
Ironically, corporate leaders wouldn’t take this approach with their customers but are making front-line and back-office employees who often must own part of the customer experience uninformed and disengaged. Employees are often frustrated because they have to hunt for information or weed through irrelevant emails to find critical updates that impact their work. Companies must invest in better internal comms solutions that help communicators more effectively segment their communications while automating content cross-platform publishing and distribution.
Communication relegated to dedicated emails create noise and go unopened. Studies show employees struggle to get through their inbox each workday. On average, employees receive 121 emails a day. Companies must invest in innovative internal communication technology that personalizes the employee experience and sends communications on the employee’s schedule.
Employees have experienced more changes on the job than ever before. They have to know more, act quicker, and do more to contribute to a company’s success. In the first three quarters of 2019, companies around the world announced merger and acquisition deals worth a total of $3.3 trillion, the most since record-keeping began nearly four decades ago. Yet, when it comes to critical change communications, companies rely on a one-way and a one-to-many communication strategy to disseminate vital information to employees.
Fostering a 1 to 1 conversation with employees is critical in building a dynamic workforce. In 2018, deskless employees made up 80% of the global workforce, and most of these workers collaborate with teams across multiple time zones.
At Cerkl, we believe in on-demand communications that automatically sends to employees on the schedule and platform of their choosing. Just like Netflix or Amazon, our solution tracks the content employees are consuming to make future recommendations based on behavior. Also, an enterprise communications solution needs to invite employees to post feedback to foster a larger corporate conversation inclusive of their voices. Offering preferences and targeting relevant content across channels equation behind personalized communication.
Just as companies encourage personalized marketing tactics to reach consumers, employees need customized communications that are relevant to their role, where they are on their career journey, and the topics of interest they explicitly select to receive.
Employees often shape work culture over time and internal communication guides them. Companies that aren’t ready to embrace the modern workplace risk losing their best and brightest to innovative competitors who proactively make employee engagement a business priority.