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Transcript of Internal Communications
Employees approach their work in many different ways, there are those who are committed and loyal, those who just work for the paycheck, and those in between. Most organizations would want their employees to be committed and loyal, but that is not often the case. What does an organization need to do in order ensure they have committed and loyal employees, and what are the benefits?
Effective Workplace Design
Workplace design is the creation of environments, structures and equipment in office spaces, warehouses and plants, etc.
Have a strong corporate mission and strong values which can be communicated clearly and concisely to the employees;
"Walk the talk" - a corporation that says one thing but does another will not earn respect from their employees;
Recognize employee potential and encourage educational opportunities.
Clear & Concise Communication from the Top
Employees who feel confident that their supervisors and upper management are sharing information on matters in a timely and transparent manner, are more likely to better deal with what is happening within their organization, whether positive or negative.
Many times financial difficulties are seen as negative to employees, employers or the general public. There are times that financial difficulties can be positive which I have listed below:
1. Mergers and Acquisitions – When a company is going through financial difficulties, there are times that a larger company will purchase or acquire the company in order to keep their employees and clients. The positive is this scenario is that job loss is kept at a minimum and companies either are still operational or become a part of a large corporation
2. Realigning, reviewing and restricting goals – Like in everyday life, when difficulties arise it’s a good time to review and rethink goals. In business this is no different because during financial difficulties, companies can review their current state and realign to ensure that positive outcomes will take place in the near future.
Internal communication is one of the most important factors when dealing with financial difficulties as it keeps employees engaged and braces them for further difficult times or a new and bright outlook.
• The financial industry has seen companies experience financial difficulties in much larger numbers within the past 5-10 years.
• Many companies have declared bankruptcy or had to be bought by larger companies.
• Financial difficulties are predominantly defined and seen as negative, however they can be a positive for larger corporations.
• Government intervention and bailouts have allowed some companies to remain in existence even during the toughest of times.
• Internal communication is important and vital during financial difficulties.
• Positive feedback and recognition during difficult financial periods will allow companies and employees to stay calm and continue working at a high level.
Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)
Six Phases of a Merger or Acquisition
Sustaining Change Management through Internal Communications
Change is inevitable in any organization, therefore change management practices should be involved in the daily operations of an organization. Most organizations place a high focus on communication and education to employees and customers at the preparation and initiation stages of a change; however, “one of the biggest mistakes any change manager can make is assuming the finish line is at the end of the project” (Merrell, 2012). Meaning that, to sustain a change there needs to be focus on changing the skills, behaviours and ways of operating in order to maintain the effectiveness.
This is important to communicate and guide the change through actions as well as assisting in adapting. Communicating the rationale for the change: behaviours are more likely to change if employees understand the reasoning behind the change.
Measuring & Evaluating
A common theme in internal communications is trust: the more that employees trust their coworkers and managers, the more productive and engaged they will be. Trust in the organization’s leaders can quash rumours before they start. Trust can give employees confidence that the change or financial difficulties will be okay.
One step is to ask people what they want with respect to employee engagement and internal communications. Employees need to know that their opinions can go up the chain. Then you and they can measure if this is happening.
Each of the key elements discussed today has measurable outcomes that are an important part of evaluating the effectiveness of internal communications and employee engagement. Are staff responding to internal communications efforts? Are staff participating in employee engagement efforts?
The closer that what employees talk about on their own is to the corporate message, the more successful your internal communications are. Trust goes a long way to achieving this. It becomes measurable.
The challenges of internal communications are many and diverse. The seven seemingly unrelated elements of internal communications covered here all require the same approach as any other communications: planning, research, execution and evaluation.
Create successful internal communications and successful employee engagement will follow.
Internal communications is often the most difficult side of public relations. While this may seem counter intuitive, the range of audiences and their intimate knowledge of the topics creates complexities beyond what an external communications strategy typically addresses. Communicating change or engaging employees who may feel they already know everything about an organization is often the biggest challenge.
Best Practices for Internal Communications & Employee Engagement, Centre for Excellence in Communications. Saskatchewan Workshops. June 6, 2013.
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Communications Planning Section of Communication Nova Scotia (2010). Internal communications - it's not rocket science!. Retrieved October 19, 2013, from http://novascotia.ca/cns/pubs/ItsNotRocketScience.pdf
DiFonzo, N., & Bordia, P. (2000). How top PR professionals handle hearsay: corporate rumors, their effects, and strategies to manage them, Public Relations Review, 26(2), 173-190. doi:10.1016/S0363-8111(00)00039-4
DiFonzo, N., & Bordia, P. (2002). Corporate rumor activity, belief and accuracy, Public Relations Review, 28(1), 1-19. doi:10.1016/S0363-8111(02)00107-8
Eastbury Partnership. (n.d.). Defining the process section, para. 2. Retrieved November 1, 2013, from http://www.eastbury.co.uk/internalcomms.html
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Creating zones for eating, coffee breaks, break out sessions/meetings and quiet areas can help increase internal communications and maintain productivity.
Designated areas encourage employees to "bump" into the right people for discussion on ideas and problems. This will help to increase productivity and strategy alignment.
Designated areas in the workplace are also crucial for employees who work remotely or from home. Having an area design for these employees will invite them into the office to collaborate face-to-face with colleagues they may not have communicated with.
Creating an open concept atmosphere within an office can help increase internal communications. Using smaller or glass cubicle walls is one way to create an open concept office.
Gen Y'ers support the open concept cubicles because it allows them to see who is available to discuss a concept or issue similar to how social media allows you to see who is online to chat with.
When enclosed offices are needed, an open door policy will help encourage employees to approach team leads and managers.
This encourages employees to "pop by" the open door to ask questions and voice concerns on policies or procedures will help increase internal communications.
A study completed for the R&D industry concluded that workplace design is directly related to team face-to-face communication and advancing knowledge.
Communication builds relationships, promotes understanding, and enables employees to contribute to the organization's success.
Benefits for the Organization
Less Employee Turnover - savings on time and money to recruit and train new staff;
Engaged & Dedicated Employees - results in a more productive work environment;
Happy employees! Happy customers!
What are the Benefits?
Benefits for the Employees
Feel part of the organization
Feel appreciated & trusted
Have a sense of team
Content and happy
Corporations that take the time to appreciate and acknowledge their employees have much more success than those that do not.
This YouTube clip helps wrap up the topic.
One of the most insidious problems concerning internal communications is rumours.
Rumours in the workplace have many harmful effects including:
higher levels of stress
Without proper internal communication during an M&A, it can have a negative impact on employee morale and productivity. “Communication is critical during these times, says Linda Pophal, a communication consultant with Strategic Communications, LLC. To the extent possible organizations should strive to share as much information about what is happening and, most importantly, how the changes will affect individual employees, as they possibly can.”
• Newsletters (electronic or printed)
• Town hall meetings
• Video messaging
This video is an example of communication before, during, and after a merger in a large organization.
• Measurement and Review
In the early 2000s, researchers Nicolas DiFonzo and Prahsan Bordia began to seriously look at the concept of corporate rumours, what their effects were, and how best to manage them.
They surveyed top PR professionals at global corporations for their experiences with corporate rumours and tested models of rumour theory.
As they have stated, “understanding the processes involved in rumour episodes and managing rumours to minimize potential harm are therefore key knowledge and skill sets for PR practitioners” (2002).
We have all experienced rumours, but what exactly are they and how can they be managed?
DiFonzo and Bordia have defined a rumour as “…an unverified bit of information about something of importance to a group…” (2000).
As they point out, a rumour is distinctly different than news, as it is unverified, and gossip, as it does not concern personal or social matters.
In fact, the more believable a rumour is, the more harm it can do within an organization.
Why do rumours happen?
DiFonzo and Bordia found that harmful rumours were common, especially during times of change within organizations.
The PR professionals who took part in their study found that the most common workplace rumours were concerning:
• job satisfaction
• personnel changes
Rumour activity increased when the following conditions were present:
Uncertainty within the workplace
Anxiety among employees
The believability of the rumour itself
The Effects of Rumours
The effect of rumours can be serious. The four most common and serious effects amassed by DiFonzo and Bordia in 2000 were:
"loss of trust between management and worker/staff"
"increased employee stress at work"
Measurement may be accomplished by:
Employee surveys before and after implementing a tactic
Tracking numbers such as rumours, retention, participants in a specific activity or event, responses to surveys or contests, use of employer-offered facilities, etc.
Quality of feedback and participation is just as important as quantity. For example, if an all-staff workshop is held to help employees understand a change management issue, how many people ask questions? What is the quality of the questions? Are they demonstrating a good knowledge of the issue?
Evaluate the quality and adjust your tactics accordingly.
Follow up to any process involving employee input is crucial. Otherwise people will not participate the next time. It all comes back to trust.
Reduce anxiety by giving employees some “sense of control” (i.e. a timeline for pending changes, input into the values used to make decisions).
Counter the believability of false rumours by providing employees with timely information from “appropriate and credible sources.”
How to manage rumours
DiFonzo and Bordia (2002) recommend the following practices for PR practitioners who wish to halt the growth of rumours in their workplace:
Expect to deal with rumours on a frequent basis. The authors discovered that they occur in organization once a week on average.
What is a rumour?
Keep an eye out for the three conditions that increase rumour activity: uncertainty, anxiety and belief.
Dispel uncertainty with “honest, timely, reliable and consistent” communications.
Finally, have a proactive plan in place to dispel these conditions before they happen (2002).
This happens throughout the process of the change and continues after it is complete.
Internal communication channels should be established to allow feedback to be communicated. This allows troubleshooting of issues and possible glitches or improvements.
Creating an open and inviting workplace is one way to enhance communication among employees but, communication can also depend on colours and furniture design.
Studies have shown that round tables in meetings rooms encourage more communication and collaboration because it creates an even playing field; no one employee is the head of the table.
Using colour to help promote behaviours and feelings in desired areas can be an effective tool to encourage communication while using colours in quiet zones can help employees remain focused and identifies the change of space.
Colours and Furniture
Communicating Change and Engaging Employees
Annette Campbell, Anton Hackett, Daniel Wall, Darlene Burton, Jocelyn Adams, Karen Nagasawa & Olivia Ford
How to effectively deal with financial difficulties in your workplace
Ensure that a high level of productivity is maintained and adhered to – Employees still have a job to do while stakeholders / shareholders are still looking for positive at what’s seen as a negative time. Ensuring that employees and management are aware that a job needs to be done and by giving a positive outlook will keep the employees engaged and allow them to continue their tasks.
Continue to communicate with employees on a daily or weekly basis – News spreads rapidly in the workplace including rumors and false information so ensuring that employees are aware of the truth and what is taking place will allow them to feel a sense of comfort and trust with their employer.
Clarify truths, rumors and false information via media – The media will put out information in regards to companies facing financial difficulties to inform the public and keep them updated. It is important that companies spell out and inform their employees on what is true and what’s not to ensure that they are aware. Whether the outlook is dark or bright, informing your employees will help the company and employees
Listen to your employees – Even though the tough times are with the business, it’s important that management listens to their employees and gets needed feedback. Survey’s and open forums are great ways to hear from employees.
Has productivity improved?
Are there fewer rumours?
Is employee trust in the organization improving?
Is morale improving?
Is the workplace layout functioning?
Are staff using the new layout to engage with each other?
Are staff expressing confidence in the sale or acquisition taking place?
Are employee retention numbers improving?
Are there noticeable improvements attributable to the change in management?
A study completed by Cass Business School found that a business with 250 employees with poor internal communications will spend approximately £250,000 more each year on turnover rates and sickness absentees compared to a similar business with great internal communications.