Amid the obsession to optimize interpersonal communications, the company intranet has widely been identified as the must-have comms tool for enterprise businesses. But how has this type of software helped aid communication in the year we all went remote?
Internal communications has defined business this year. As organizations already undergoing a digital transformation, it was the abrupt shock of the pandemic that sped up the test driving of working from home, trying out new comms platforms, and working out of ways to connect up employees to the heart of the organization, wherever their location.
As business processes were triggered from home offices, we experienced some significant successes, but for many enterprises, interpersonal communication took a hit. Without the ability to lean over to someone’s desk, share a monitor to check up on a project, grab a meeting room for a quick catch up, organizations have spent much of the year finding ways to simulate these connections.
14 steps to great internal communications
It’s become a pressing need within business – how can we optimize our communications? How can we perfectly mimic the ease of traditional interpersonal communications in a digital landscape? Do different teams need different channels… and how can all these be linked up to create a cohesive, engaging experience?
With a multitude of comms tools options available for organizations to choose from, we’re going to explore how an intranet can aid interpersonal communication in 2021.
What is interpersonal communication?
We can define interpersonal communication as an exchange of information between two or more people. It is also an area of research that seeks to understand how humans use verbal and nonverbal cues to accomplish a number of personal and relational goals.
But when it comes to your business, it’s the difference between harmony and chaos. The person you want to communicate with must be able to easily and accurately receive and comprehend what it is you want to convey. Otherwise, mistakes and misunderstandings occur, the result of which can be disastrous.
But getting a clear message out there isn’t easy as it sounds. According to HR Technologist, 57% of employees report not being given clear directions and 69% of managers are not comfortable communicating with their employees in general. This could simply be down to a lack of training or unsuitable communication tools, but as we grow more dispersed in business, it is becoming a growing priority for organizations to develop an interpersonal communication strategy that evolves with the workforce and new ways of working.
How an intranet can transform your interpersonal communication
Company intranets have become instrumental in interpersonal communication strategies all over the world for a number of years. Intranets are particularly invaluable for a dispersed workforce, connecting everyone, and allowing them to be informed of the latest company updates, communicate with their colleagues, and share knowledge. It is a lifeline for workers who are at home, whether they are close by or in a different country.
Enterprise businesses use them to connect their global offices together, keep effective communication levels up from home and the office. Organizations with predominately front-line staff – those in the healthcare industry for example – have used their intranet as the touchstone for all communication, quick access to information, and necessary support to great success.
In short, an intranet takes all the important stuff from a business and brings it home to one space for the user to use when they need it, or want to share news, celebrate success, update employees on changes, or connect with a colleague. Here are some of the many ways an intranet can transform your interpersonal communications, whether you’re in-office, remote, or running a hybrid workplace.
#1 Segment your audience
No longer do you have to ‘send all’ messages to everyone. When you choose to ‘send all’ with your comms, you start losing people’s interests. Employees start to subconsciously sign out, stop taking notice, and move their focus elsewhere. However, modern intranet software allows you to split your audience up into personas, so you can send messages to a defined group of people outside of department or status. For example, you want to message everyone who usually drives to work, or who is a certified first-aider, or who lives in a particular location. You can do this through choosing those fields you wish to focus on with the help of a personas tool.
When you deliver specific, targeted communication, you are directing messages to your workforce that are relevant, and should therefore be responded to. This results in meaningful, impactful comms that are seen, understood. and acted on.
#2 Choose your content
With modern intranet software, you can use a range of media to get your message across. Gifs, videos, images, audio, text – there are options available to suit a range of communications.
And it pays to switch up your media once in a while. According to Psychology Today, the brain processes videos, for example, 60,000 times fast than text. This means there is less energy and time used in sending information out to your team. And as video can convey emotions more efficiently than the written word, there is a far higher chance of your audience engaging and being immersed in your message. Infographics and podcasts have similar ways of being memorable and conveying a message that is easier to understand. An intranet can host a variety of media to get your message across.
#3 Assessing engagement
Intranets can also help you work out the level of your reach and engagement. If you’re unsure about how to ensure critical information has been read, you can use a mandatory reads feature which marks specific content and records who has read the content and issue reminders where appropriate.
Make your intranet the center of your digital workplace by making it the place for vital company information. According to one report, 74% of employees have the feeling they are missing out on company news. The fall out of this is misinformation, disengagement, and lack of communication. An intranet is a catch-all solution for preventing news and updates from slipping through the cracks of the organization.
In the move to en masse working from home, leadership visibility has suffered as a result. This aspect of senior-level command has had to work harder to ensure the workforce feels secure, informed, and seen. This is why the intranet has been an indispensable tool during the pandemic – leaders have used it to great effect in keeping in touch with their employees.
Whether it’s the CEO updating their microblog to inform the organization of their goals and activities, or a video from the head of HR updating employees of the latest COVID advice, every touchpoint is vital. While workers may not physically see their leaders around the office, this connection via the intranet has a great impact on interpersonal communication.
14 steps to great internal communications
#5 Organizational strategy
According to one report, 72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of the company’s strategy, and it’s easy to understand why. After all, these plans are devised at the top, in board rooms, that involve shareholders, strategists and advisors. Surely, it’s not everyone’s business what the strategy is for the next five years?
In fact, when employees are given access to the thinking behind ideas, changes, and new initiatives, they’re far more likely to co-operate. Tell someone to do something new without any background understanding – you’ll just have a confused, uncommitted individual.
Simply put, it’s goes a long way when you let people in on the big ideas of your business. Through holding online all-hands meetings, communications from senior level, and even weaving them into your core values on your intranet, it implies trust and confidence in the workforce to be part of the bigger picture.
6# Access to information
Did you know that employees spend on average 2.5 hours a day looking for the information they need to do their jobs? Whether it’s product details, contact details on a supplier, or finding the best co-worker to advise on a project, the time spent looking is dead time and can really easily be remedied.
An intranet should store everything someone needs to do their job. From colleague profiles, to partner databases, to product directories to fast connections to every branch of the business, an intranet can become an indispensable tool for search to each and every worker in the organization. This easy, quick capture of news and information can define new and improved interpersonal communication processes.
#7 Sharing information
Similarly, being able to share information is an essential part of business, and done properly has demonstrable ROI for businesses. According to a recent study, Fortune 500 companies lose around $31.5 billion per year by failing to share knowledge. Like other aspects of collaboration, though, knowledge sharing has to be purposeful to be effective and not wasteful.
Using your intranet to pass on news about a competitor, a new product or industry news is a straightforward example of sharing information in an easy, quick, and effective way. Similarly, the forums and groups within your company intranet act as a good way of achieving information sharing, enabling employees to organically form communities around different purposes and share knowledge.
#8 Welcoming new starters onboard
Making new employees feel welcome and part of the business has always been a challenging part of the employee lifecycle. Welcoming them remotely has made it even more complicated. How can you put someone at ease and let them experience the culture of your organization when they’re sat in front of a laptop in their spare room?
Ensure you have guidance or how-to guides on the intranet itself covering everything from updating profiles to how to add a blog or news story. Once staff understand the how, they’ll naturally pick up and play.
An intranet should be a big part of the new starter onboarding process and play host to the wide range of training and introductory videos. Through the system, the new employee can be introduced to key figures within the business and have a buddy-style mentor to check in with on a daily basis. The intranet can provide other online areas like blogging, directories, instant chat and other communication tools so the new user can become instantly connected to the business. Videos, messages, an explanation of your organization’s core values, and a preview of some past company events will all give a great impression of the workplace culture.
The importance of interpersonal communication remains even when an employee is leaving. Departing employees provide a valuable opportunity to learn. And communication is key throughout the process, even when it’s something simple like informing your leaver about what the protocol is. Let them know that there will be elements of their departure, which might feel slightly cold and clinical, like handing back fobs and phones.
Your intranet, particularly with remote employees, will aid comms throughout this period, from helping a manager to check in on them during the last few weeks with chats and catch-ups to connecting with them totheir feedback on their time at the organization. This could provide valuable lessons for the business and allow you to identify any weak spots and issues: after all, happy ex-employees act like brand ambassadors, provide job referrals, and can even return to the fold in the future. Maintaining good interpersonal communication around this period is essential.
#10 Celebrating successes
Another culture-booster is the sharing of successes, whether that’s a new deal, great work or an award win. Using your internal communications tools to connect staff to your mission, values, and overall purpose of your organization is more important now than ever before. With staff dispersed, working remotely or operating on the front lines, your tools serve as the virtual central hub of your organization.
News like this is essential to staff morale, engagement and productivity and forms the foundation of a successful culture.
Interpersonal communication is the keystone of a successful and engaged workplace. A diverse range of communication is already happening within your business: whether that’s water cooler talk among employees or line managers disseminating plans to their teams.
Deployed correctly, an intranet can provide the perfect foundation for successful interpersonal communications that will unite your staff behind their organization, drive productivity, and deliver significant returns for both individuals and the business – setting the scene for a successful 2021.