Spend any time in an office, factory or other work site and you experience workplace communication: the signs, posters, electronic screens and bulletin boards that convey messages to employees.

While these channels all seem simple, workplace communication is a challenge to do well. Far too often, it is just recycled content from other sources. The result is communication that is unfocused, overcomplicated and ineffective.

If you want workplace communication that works, take a lesson from the experts in “environmental” or “out-of-home” (OOH) advertising—the folks who bring you billboards, transit ads and shopping mall elevator graphics. Then follow the same three basic rules:

  1. Keep it simple. Posters, digital signs, table tent cards and other physical communication should have a simple, at-a-glance message.
     
  2. Location. Location. Location. Like on a highway or subway platform, high traffic means high visibility. Where are the high traffic areas at your site? Hint: Think of where folks tend to sit, stand or pause in their fast-paced workday.
    • Cafeteria
    • Break room
    • Entrance/exits
    • Elevators
    • Printers/faxes
    • Copiers
  3. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Multiple channels will achieve your one objective. Whether your desired outcome is creating awareness, increasing knowledge or reminding you to do something, your workplace communication will not get there by itself. You’ll get best results if your communication partners with other channels that support the delivery of more detailed information.
Examples   Do this   Don't do this

Celebrate on a digital display board

digital display

Quickly get to the point. Happy 15th Anniversary, Sue Smith!

 

Tell the whole story: Sue Smith joined the company 15 years ago today. Sue works in the accounting department and enjoys hiking and reading. Sue also likes…

 


Remind via bulletin board

bulletin board

Highlight important dates and a to-do list for open enrollment

 

Include all of the vendors that will be at the health fair. Just because both are from HR, doesn't mean they go together.

 


Motivate by poster

sign next to elevator

Near the elevators, ask the question:

“Did you know you could burn up to 15 calories for each 12-step flight to stairs?”

Near the stairs, encourage with a “Way to go!” sign

 

Place a calorie-burning message in the lunchroom. That will just make folks feel bad. (Try a healthy choice message near the vending machine.)

 


Support by wall cling or floor decal

energy saver decal

Reinforce your energy conservation program with a reminder to turn off the lights with a message near the exit

 

Think it’s “one and done.” A message to turn out the lights won’t mean much without the broader education about carbon footprint

 


Reinforce by table tent

social media table tent

Remind folks about your social media policy with dos and don’ts of social network interaction with a lunchroom table tent

 

Assume that dos and don’ts are all you need. Use other, more formal channels (like email or manager meeting) for the introduction and discussion of any official company policy

 


 

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