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Employee Communications Council Blog

Insightful blog posts written by corporate communications professionals on ways to improve employee engagement, organizational change management and internal communication strategies


Remember, It's a Conversation: Employee Communications Solutions to Keep the Dialogue Going

13 September 2017
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Employee communications solutions try to make communication what it really is—a two-way street. These solutions engage employees and urge them to participate in the communication exchange with management.

The definition of communication is 'a process by which information is exchanged between individuals.’ It’s two sides sharing information back and forth. One side conveying, and the other side listening.

But if one side sends and the other never receives, then it's not really communication, is it?

Organizations striving to create successful employee communications solutions would do well to remember this definition. Although much of a company's exchange of information may come from one direction, the overall tone and voice of employee communications should be thought of as a conversation.

Think about it. Are you receptive when listening to someone who loves to hear himself/herself talk, or for whom every 'discussion' is a diatribe? Of course not. We tune people out when we think they're talking at us, as opposed to with us. The same applies for enterprise employee communications. If how your organization communicates with its workers sounds more like a monologue instead of a dialogue, then you have a problem.

And probably one you aren't even aware of. Employee communication solutions must bridge the gap between employees and management. There can be no question of engagement of the employees.

Luckily, executives these days have many employee communications solutions to choose from to help establish and maintain a conversation. Not too many years ago, company memos printed on actual paper were about the only means management had to inform workers of what was happening at the firm. Or perhaps your CEO held a yearly town hall to reinforce everything you'd read in those memos over the last 12 months. And that, ladies and gents, was the full arsenal of employee communications. Almost all top­down. One­way. One­sided.

By the mid­ to late­1990s, however, the Internet allowed managers and administrative departments to send emails easily and instantly to thousands of employees, along with the ability to tailor messages according to business unit, geography or any other category (and think of all the paper that was saved!). Human Resources could communicate benefits and training information. Marketing could share new product announcements. Emailed surveys let senior leaders quickly gauge worker sentiment toward major initiatives. What's more, email opened up a brand-new feedback loop so employees could more easily respond to what they were hearing, albeit in a closed forum.

For years, email became the workhorse of corporate communicators, and it often still is. But over the past decade or so, smart phones, digital streaming, and go­anywhere connectivity have enabled huge amounts of multimedia content to be produced and delivered to employees. Videos, animation, and all sort of rich content can now be posted and hosted on company intranets and made available for consumption any time, from any location ­­ work, home, wherever you get wifi ­­ on almost any device.

Organizations out front on employee communications solutions also recognize the power and value of social media, whether by incorporating blogs and comment sections on their intranet pages or by sharing information with workers via social media apps. It's an open forum that allows people to show passion for their employer as well as to raise concerns, a notion sometimes tough for the C­suite to swallow.

But in 2017 there's no turning back. Employees today have a voice that all other employees can hear ... and that managers can't ignore.

Times have changed. I remember getting my first BlackBerry in 2004 and thinking how amazing it was that I could send and receive email while riding on the train or sitting at my kitchen table. Suffice to say a lot has changed in just over a dozen years in the ways companies can communicate with their employees. At last, an open, transparent, two­way exchange of information can take place between management and workers. The very definition of communication.

And if it's not happening at your organization, it should be.

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Joe Ailinger

Joe Ailinger Jr. has more than 20 years experience in employee and crisis communications, public relations, and brand-building for the financial services, defense technology, healthcare and nonprofit industries. Connect with him and learn more at http://linkedin.com/in/joeailinger

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