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December 21, 2018

Communication Age: What Personalisation Can Do for Internal Comms

Thanks to the advances in technology and software there has never been a better time to digitally transform internal communications.

By CBR Staff Writer

We’re living in an age when every facet of our lives can be customised to our preferences and interests. We’ve come to expect personalisation. Mass appeals are no longer effective, whether in advertising, pop culture, sales, or our hobbies, writes Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe, MD of EMEA at SocialChorus.

Communication Age

Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe

This is especially true for communications platforms. On social media, we get a curated look at the lives of the people we care about. We can listen to Spotify’s recommendations for our musical preferences. We follow and share with our friends on Instagram.

Yet in business, we seem to behind the curve. Internal communications have not kept pace with the trend towards personalisation. Many companies still operate with an outdated one-size-fits-all strategy for internal communications that conveys indifference to the individual needs and concerns of their most valuable resource: their people. And yet, in our private lives we would feel hugely disappointed if our favourite clothes brand treated us as one of the masses.

Internal communications matter a lot, even more so in today’s decentralised business landscape. That’s why it’s imperative to personalise internal communications to drive a deeper connection with employees. Achieving more personalised communications can have profound results across the board.

Research has shown that effective internal communications greatly benefits companies as a whole, with a 40% increase in customer satisfaction, 30% increase in profitability, and 36% in overall performance. Creating a greater affiliation between employee and company leads to less staff turnover and increased employee satisfaction. Not to mention more informed employees.

So Why Have Internal Communications Lagged Behind so Much?

Let’s be clear effective internal communication does not mean emailing everyone a newsletter. Hitting send on one mass email is not a strategy. When every other form of communication someone receives is personalised, internal communications quickly becomes irrelevant when it isn’t. And the last thing a communications team wants is for their message to be ignored.

Communicators must create content that is tailored to individual departments and even to specific employees, while embracing new forms of internal communications that reach employees wherever they are. With about 80% of workers now deskless, this is especially important for organisations with highly distributed workforces.

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Companies need to realign the goals of their internal communications and treat employees more like their customers. Just as they create customised outreach for consumers and track the response to that outreach, the main goal of internal communications should be the same but in this case the consumers are colleagues. They’re all employees of the business with a shared interest but with different needs.

There’s no doubt that this approach marks a break with the past and getting buy-in for a new approach from key stakeholders may prove a challenge. Traditional methods of measuring internal communication success have focused on whether the message was received. Clicks, hit and opens are measured rather than examining whether communications are measurably driving behaviour that improves the business.

Thanks to the advances in technology and software there has never been a better time to digitally transform internal communications. Similar metrics to those used by the marketing team when reaching out to consumers can be put in place with ease.For example, if an email goes out about health and safety standards, internal communications should track how many employees received the email, took action (watched a video, acknowledged the requirements) and then measure over time whether there were fewer accidents.

Customised content that is less CEO speak and more department heads to their teams will empower and also release the burden on smaller communications teams. Effective personalised communication integrates a variety of technologies from mobile apps to text messages or integrations with intranets, email programs, digital signage, live town halls, and more. To have the broadest impact on all employees, companies need to push communications to employees on the platforms or devices they use most often. When direct communication is paired with relevant content, internal communications can finally become the effective tool modern businesses need.

Communication Age

Yet companies shouldn’t just consider the way they communicate, but how they do so. Companies need to allow employees to be heard as well as to receive information and not ask for feedback that they’re not willing to acknowledge or act on. Internal communications are best as a conversation, not a monologue.

Internal communications matter now more than ever. We know it boosts employee engagement and that helps the bottom line: According to McKinsey, connected employees are 20-25% more productive. Using only older technology won’t help to foster this type of connection because in many cases, communication simply won’t reach your employees. It worth considering that surveys have found 31% of employees never use their company’s intranet.

This helps to make the case that new channels are required to increase the connection employees have with their organisations, and creative communication delivered directly to them wherever they are, whenever they want to read it, is the best approach. Simply put, today, companies cannot afford to neglect internal communications. It’s time for businesses to create a great employee experience, an experience on par with the way they treat their customers.

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