4 Best Practices for Evolving Internal Communications to Digital

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Summary:
Many organizations switching from email, and analog communication channels (like this bulletin board above) struggle with adoption of their new intranet platform. These 4 best practices below will boost your engagement, build efficient communication strategy which includes people content, cultivates company culture, and promotes openness.

Internal communications are often associated with email blasts to everyone in the company or bulletin boards hanging in the staff area. Keeping track of updates and distributing important information in this way is not only time consuming, but often times ignored by employees.

With digital tools available, such as intranet, internal communications have evolved, but adoption rates often vary.

Here are the best practices that can help you get the most out of your digital communication tools.

1. Develop internal communications strategy

Switching from manual, bulletin board-style or email communication to digital involves a few more things than just moving your old content to the intranet.

Here are key questions about content you need to consider:

Purpose

  • What is the purpose of communication (educate, inform, call to action?)

  • Does your communication cultivate the culture?

  • Can you re-purpose stories featured externally with slight adjustments?

Frequency

  • How urgent is the communication?

  • How often things get posted/updated?

  • Does the publication schedule overwhelm your users?

  • How will the frequency scale with organization?

  • When do posts expire?

Audience and Roles

  • Does the communication need to be targeted to specific audiences?

  • Will leadership content be active on the intranet?

  • Who can post and where?

  • Who moderates content (if staff can post)?

Avoid

  • Duplicating the content. People will come to the intranet if your original content is available on the intranet and not in numerous other places they used to come before.

  • Only featuring leadership content. People love to hear stories and not just important communication.

2. Feature employee content

Employee content has many different forms and is a great way to engage others.

Interesting Fact: People are psychologically drawn to individual stories rather than statistics. This is related to how our brain loves to associate and relate our own experiences through the lens of others. In psychological studies, people remembered content presented through individual story much better than the same content in a form of generalization or statistic.

Here are few ideas to include engaging employee content on your intranet:

  • Shout-outs or kudos

    • Gives an opportunity to inform everyone about who was working on what, which goals have been met, and which members of the team are collaborating well.

    • Executives also appreciate this type of content to see how employees are performing.

  • Crowdsourcing ideas or feedback site

    • Gives people an opportunity to provide valuable feedback and have others agree and comment

    • Excellent at building culture of collaboration, improvement and transparency.

  • People news

    • Provides a channel for employees to share their experiences at a conference, industry event, customer story etc.

    • Promotes awareness beyond corporate type of content.

    • Encourages other to contribute

3. Cultivate company values

Out of several tools and types of content mentioned above, building culture is the desired outcome for the majority. Communication is not just about building awareness, it’s also about reinforcing the culture through examples.

At Sharemuch one of our core values is Empathy. We try to embody that in the content we feature and highlight examples of empathy in executive decisions, employee and customer relations, and product strategy. Many of the stories we feature is how understanding and empathizing with customer pain points helped build amazing user experience on our recent projects.

Be sure to feature the content not just from the management team but also from the broader team. Content featured from the entire spectrum of the organization is perceived as more genuine and less scripted.

The communications team can leverage spotlight-type articles in their editorial calendar and help key contributors provide information for a spotlight story. For these spotlight type of articles, it’s best if the content shows as posted by the original author. This will draw attention and encourage other to submit their story.

4. Build areas for feedback and discussion

Companies which have an area for idea and feedback promote a culture of openness. To encourage employees to submit feedback, enable comments and likes so that the most popular ideas get featured at the top.

If you plan to add idea crowdsourcing to your intranet, here are the things to determine:

  • Set categories for submitted ideas to keep submissions on topic

    • Examples: Offices, Technology, Process, People, Facilities etc

  • Assign a moderator to update ideas as actioned/more information required/in progress

    • This is also a way to get back to the employee who submitted the idea

One of the ways for promoting this new area might be featuring a bright new idea in a company newsletter and mentioning that this was brought up using idea crowd-sourcing tool.

In Summary

Switching your communication to digital doesn’t have to be cumbersome. It requires a communication plan and strategy. Don’t forget to engage influencers within your organization to drive the content on your site to encourage others to contribute.

Effortless communication with Origami intranet tailored to your organization in 3-6 weeks.

 
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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from scratch. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at industry events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky