Improving employee communication channels is always a bright idea

You don’t need super powers to improve such employee communication channels as your intranet, newsletter or social media. The key is to focus on content — the information you provide to employees. With a few small changes to how you create content, you can make a big impact — no cape or tights required.

Here are five ideas to get you started:

1. Think new and fresh

One of the biggest complaints employees have about their internal communication channels — from traditional to digital — is that content stale.

After all, why should employees pay attention to your communication when they’ve already seen the news on TV or read the same information in the quarterly financial report?

To can give employees new and unexpected content:

· Don’t post press releases. Instead, create content that provides perspective and connects the dots for your employees. Tell them something unique about your organization that The New York Times or The Washington Post can’t provide.

· Run a quick poll. Post a new question with multiple choice answers. Questions can be related to company specifics or business in general, like “Where is our newest plant located? Or “What helps you be more productive at work?”

· Bring company strategies to life. Rather than focus on numbers to provide updates on progress, invite a subject matter expert to share what his/her team is doing to tackle challenges.

2. Make it relevant

Be clear about why the topic is important, why it matters and what employees need to do. Answer the burning question: “What’s in it for me?”

· Help employees do their jobs better. Provide tips on how employees can support company priorities. For example, encourage people to speak up if they have a suggestion to improve efficiency.

· Consider location, location, location. Think about your audience. Be sure content is appropriate for your site and the people who work there.

· Show what good looks like. Employees are interested in their colleagues. They want to hear about other employees’ successes and learn from them. Instead of using stale business jargon to talk about your financial results, show how employees are helping your company achieve its goals — like the unsung customer service rep who kept an important client from canceling his account. Or recognize employees who clearly demonstrate your company values.

3. Focus on people

If the idea of developing additional articles is daunting, democratize your internal communication content. The explosive growth of social media has leveled the playing field, turning anyone with a smartphone into a storyteller. Your employees are used to doing this outside of work, so why not tap into their talents to create new content to share with other employees?

Here are a few things you can do to invite your colleagues to contribute to your employee communication channels:

· Ask employees to share photos, even selfies. No need for a long article on the company values. If teamwork is important to your organization, request candid shots of teams in action. Then upload the photos, write an introduction and/or short captions and post.

· Establish an editorial board. Invite members from different departments and locations to give you the lowdown in their areas. Conduct regular meetings, based on your channel requirements, and you’ll end up with compelling content that you wouldn’t have known about without their help.

· Use real quotes. Let your employees be themselves. Share their stories in the words your colleagues actually use.

4. Keep it short, simple and scannable

When it comes to any communication channel — newsletter, intranet or video — employees often don’t have the time to sit down and consume an entire meal of information. They just want a bite (quick take) or snack (a little more substance) to satisfy their hunger for the topic. That’s why it’s important to apply these “three S’s” to your writing:

· Short. Word count for emails and intranet articles should be no more than 200. Keep videos to no more than 3 minutes, but know that 30 to 60 seconds is best.

· Simple. Avoid those $50 words. Use conversational language, a friendly tone and strive for an 8th grade reading level.

· Scannable. Write visually and structure copy for easy reading on any device with:

- Subheads

- Callouts

- Sidebars

- Images

- Bulleted or numbered lists

- Infographics

- Q&A

5. Make it visual

Facebook posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than regular text posts. And your employees will remember visual communication because images are stored in long-term memory. Plus, visuals are a fast way to communicate a lot of information.

You can find inspiration all around to help make your internal communication more visual:

· Click on that promo email from your favorite retailer. Marketers know the importance of visuals to capture your attention. Think about the last time you opened an email and bought something you didn’t really need. You were hooked thanks to the great photo and bold graphic announcing a steep discount. Apply the same techniques to your channels to capture employees’ attention.

· Nurture your inner Annie Leibovitz. Take a photography course at a local high school or community college and learn how to make the most of your smartphone’s camera.

· Think about design. Browse through some magazines. Then work with your in-house design team (if you have one), or hire a freelancer or agency to help you develop similar visuals for your employee communication channels tools.

Ready to incorporate some (or all) of these suggestions into your internal communication channel strategy? Even little changes will make a big difference.

Originally published on


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