By Anne Bleeker
Is silence really golden? Certainly not in internal communication. Sadly, many organizations still believe it is best not to tell employees what’s going on or to share important information. But guess what? You communicate whether you like it or not - through formal communications, policies and procedures, systems and the behavior of management. And more importantly, you can communicate through silence. There is no ‘opt out’, so if we are communicating anyway, we may as well think about it and do it well!
It’s surprising that not more organizations see the immense benefit that internal communication and strong employee engagement can bring to the table, and the bottom line. There are far too many organizations out there that still see internal communication as they used to see public relations: as a fluffy, soft-skill, nice to have department that sits anywhere but around the boardroom table.
We see internal communication as communication ‘from the inside out’. Not using your most credible colleagues, your most passionate people and your most active advocates to reach out to your audiences seems ludicrous. It’s a lost opportunity, and a costly one.
According to the UAE Executive Summary of Towers Watson’s 2012 Global Workforce Study, “23% of UAE employees are investing energy to overcome ‘substantial obstacles’ to get their work done, but less than half (49%) feel they have their supervisor’s support in doing so. Only 57% believe they have the necessary tools and resources to achieve exceptional performance and even fewer feel they have access to the training they need to be productive.” What about the other roughly 50% of employees? How are they getting through the day? A scary thought.
Employees want to be informed, and in order to do their jobs well they need to understand how they contribute individually to the overall success of the organization. Communication around strategy therefore needs to be clear, transparent, regular and honest, and that’s exactly what a strong internal communications capacity provides.
Strong internal communication gets everybody ‘on the same page’ so they can work effectively towards common goals; it helps create a workplace that motivates people – and one they don’t want to leave; it enables everybody to do a better job, so you have happier customers and a more successful business.
We group the business benefits of internal communication into five core areas:
- Line of Sight: “I know where the company is headed and the part I am expected to play.”
- Reputation: “I say good things about my company and am a good ambassador.”
- Change Management: “I understand what changes are happening and why, and how I should respond.”
- Regulation & Compliance: “I follow all the rules and regulations associated with my role.”
- Engagement: “I am motivated to perform well at work.”
And here is how it impacts your bottom line: the Towers Watson 2013–2014 Change and Communication ROI Study Report states that its sixth study shows “a continued strong relationship between superior financial performance and effective communication, and change management. Companies with high effectiveness in change management and communication are three and a half times more likely to significantly outperform their industry peers than firms that are not effective in these areas.”
Internal communication is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a ‘must-have’. It’s a true business enabler that optimizes the flow of information within the organization and helps improve individual and organizational performance.