That’s a true statement. Really.
My answer? Internal communications is more than leadership sending messages to employees or ensuring two-way communications. Done the right way, internal communications can have the following results:
- Happy, engaged employees
- Low turnover rates
- Good safety records
- Strong HR and training
- Ability to manage and respond to crises
- Adaptability to change
While many companies have grown in their understanding of internal communications and how to engage, there are those who neglect it, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t “get it.” (You know, why change the top-down model of memos to emails?) Maybe they don’t have the resources. Maybe they don’t believe they have time to focus on such a role as full-time.
5 Reasons to Pay Attention to Internal Communications
No matter the size of your oil and gas organization, if engaging employees isn’t one of your priorities, you’re missing out on opportunities to grow your business and your brand.
Consider these five reasons to pay attention to internal communications:
- Brand Ambassadors
Employees who know what the company stands for, live and breathe the vision and mission, are communicated to regularly – and encouraged to ask questions, respond, and share – will become your brand ambassadors, being your word-of-mouth (WOM) advertising. WOM is one of the most valued types of advertising by people in general. Think about how you decide to purchase an item. More than likely, you look at the ratings, reviews, and ask your friends, family, and neighbors their opinions of the product. Per Nielsen, word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family – often referred to as earned advertising – are still the most influential, as 84 percent of global respondents across 58 countries said this source was the most trustworthy.
- Employee Engagement
From a Human Resources perspective, employee engagement is an important factor in reducing turnover. And internal communication plays a key role in employee engagement. Take a look at this infographic developed by Dale Carnegie Training:
From a business perspective, if the oil and gas corporate strategies are clearly communicated, along with Q/A, key messages, dialogue, and insurance that every employee receives the same messages, the odds are in your favor that the strategies will be successful. If employees believe they are supported and are engaged, they are more likely to produce ideas that may better the organization. If they don’t feel connected or valued, they won’t speak up and an amazing idea to benefit the company’s culture and/or the bottom line will be missed.
Also known as two-way communication, it’s very important that leaders listen and respond to employees. But leaders and management MUST “walk the talk” when stating that two-way communication is encouraged. If it’s new to the business culture, it may take a bit of time for employees to begin trusting that they will be heard, but by setting up specific emails and/or forums – and responding in a timely manner – will start that dialogue. This only benefits your organization.
- Information Overload
Information is everywhere these days, but it isn’t always accurate. If employees don’t have access to the right information easily, they’ll look for it elsewhere and may find the wrong answer. Employees should be able to come to you or a reliable internal source first. Internal communication is becoming more important because it allows employees to have quick and easy access to crucial information.
- Digital Workspace
The business world moves faster and has become more global, more mobile, and more digitized, and with that, we have seen the development of digital workspaces, even in oil and gas organizations (which tend to be slower to adopt). These workspaces bring all workers together simultaneously regardless of where they may be located. But to do this, you need quality internal communication, which is why the platforms are the foundation of the digital workplace. Employees feel trusted when they are given the power to work when and where they can. And when non-desk workers feel included and part of the team, they’re more productive.
An Extra Reason to Pay Attention
The world as a whole is connected at all times. Being dependent on one vehicle, such as email, results in messages being missed or ignored. (You can’t mark everything “high importance” and expect readership.) Factoring in videos, webinars, town halls, and yes, print is key to ensuring all employees, wherever they are located, receive the same message. With several generations in the workplace at one time, remember that each has a different communication preference – one size does not fit all.
Sometimes it’s Smarter to Start Small
Beginning a robust internal communications program doesn’t mean implementing everything at once. A simple start can work wonders.
For example, we were once asked to take over an internal newsletter that many viewed as an afterthought. From an aesthetic standpoint, it was boring. BORING. Right there you lose people if they bother to open it. In addition, it was sent out via email as a PDF attachment. Now, there is nothing wrong with that, but if you’re traveling or work on a rig, it’s not exactly ideal to read on the phone. And most importantly, the writing needed to be much stronger, and there were no visuals of any kind.
What did I do about it?
I took the time to design a new look. I used multiple colors. I added visuals – pictures, charts, etc. I wrote stories about people, projects, products, and interviewed the subject matter experts to pull intriguing information and provide quotes. Without a large budget, I created an ONLINE newsletter that was responsive, or mobile-friendly. This ensured that anyone could easily view it. However, to ensure all audiences received and responded to the information, I not only sent the electronic newsletter, I attached the PDF version to the email. I knew that some preferred to print out the newsletter.
The response was fantastic! In fact, when the Director of Sales and Marketing presented it at a managers’ meeting, it was greeted with loud applause. I received many congratulatory emails.
Taking such a simple step forward set the groundwork for expanding internal communications. Employees began to become more engaged, responding, talking to each other, making suggestions, and feeling more comfortable about accessing leadership. This didn’t happen overnight, of course, but as the program grew over the first year, it was easy to see.
There you have it! Five (six+) reasons to pay attention to internal communications.
What would you add?