Account Director, Colm Kearns, outlines the importance of keeping an organisation's most important audience, it's employees, in the loop.
When it comes to communications, we often find ourselves focused on who our audience is: customers, potential customers, politicians, interest groups, charities, investors etc.
One of an organisation's most important audiences, which is often overlooked to their detriment, is the people we work with every day. A company's employees are the driving force behind it's operations and in order to best serve their organisation, they need to be kept up to date on relevant and material developments.
It is not uncommon for employees to find out about the sale of their company, the acquisition of another, or the appointment of a new member to their senior leadership team through the media. This understandably makes them feel like they have been left out of the loop and that they are merely an afterthought for the company they work for.
One of the main contributing factors to this issue is that companies don’t consider updating their employees to be a priority. Major commercial developments generate interest from not only stakeholders and competitors, but the media also. The more individuals that know about an announcement before it's released, the increased likelihood that it will leak.
For announcements such as mergers, acquisitions, sales, major new clients or changes to company leadership, it is essential to carefully coordinate all aspects of the communication pipeline. This is to ensure that you are telling your audiences about the development in the manner and at the time that best serves your organisation.
Once the news of the announcement extends from senior executives to the wider pool of employees, the chance of the news leaking grows exponentially. This is typically not the result of any malice on the part of employees, but merely human nature – someone might tell their friend or their spouse, who will tell someone else.
However, this is not reason enough to leave a company’s biggest asset - it's employees – out in the cold. The communication of sensitive information to employees needs to be coordinated carefully, along with the communication to other key audiences. Ideally, employees should be fully informed of a major development ahead of the announcement to the media and general public, but not so far ahead as to unnecessarily compound the risk of the story breaking.
Additionally, employees should be informed in the appropriate manner. For major announcements affecting their company, employees should ideally be informed in person, putting a human face to the news and giving them the chance to ask pertinent questions.
Whilst keeping your co-workers informed is essential during times of major change or growth for a company, it is also important to do this on an ongoing basis. Ensuring that they are engaged, involved and kept up to date consistently is key to showing them that they are valued.
There are a number of ways that organisations can do this. This includes internal events, social engagements, company newsletters, employee appreciation initiatives and other methods of bringing your community of co-workers together.
The key factor when it comes to effective internal communications is an ethos of openness, inclusivity and positive engagement. This ethos can only be established from the top down. Ensuring buy-in from senior management on these ideas is key to guaranteeing that your organisation can establish a culture of positive communication and engagement. This encourages improved internal relations and communication amongst your workforce.
Whilst every organisation has a variety of key audiences they must recognise and engage with, there is only one audience who we see and work with every day. Rather than being an afterthought for some, internal communications should be valued and prioritised by all.