Employees are human beings, who knew…?!
When it comes to internal comms, most corporates will admit to adopting the broadcast approach; that if you say it, say it and say it again, then soon enough staff will begin to believe it and fall in line.
How corporates are saying it also remains to sit within the school of tradition, with most using one way communication methods; from overly exhaustive printed induction packs, strategically-placed posters by the kettle and in the loos, a nice bit of desktop DM or branded merchandise (who doesn’t like a motivation mouse mat), perhaps topped off with the once / twice a year experiential campaign such as an away day or a CEO presentation.
Digital channels have changed this to a degree, but let’s be honest, they could be improved. Intranets once seen as revolutionary are now dusty (can digital be dusty?) unused document archives that are only updated when document makers are reminded to do so on pain of death. Even those with funky “war-room” or chat functionality tend to be frequented by a handful of people, two of which are probably the IT team that built it.
So we come to the dreaded all staff email, the handy tool for any employee, manager or CEO who needs to get a message across to the entire company but really cannot be bothered. The two most successful all staff email stories we’ve come across are:
a) a facilities manager’s message about the health and safety risks of flip flops (still the most shared email at this company to date), and
b) When one employee used reply all to express his anger at his colleagues for using reply all to confirm attendance to an event, over 100 other staff members responded in kind resulting in a raft of reply all messages from across the business, mostly about their plans for the weekend.
Neither of these ‘success stories’ were about brand values or team ethics, but they show that employees like having fun with one another (who knew!). Like their behaviour out there as consumers in their own time, employees remain to be a sophisticated social audience at work that will form an opinion of the business they work for and will portray that opinion to the outside world. Tapping into team based social behaviour, competitive spirit, and the enjoyment of game play and using digital channels to facilitate that could mean the difference between being a brand value broadcaster and an engaging conversationalist.
More and more of our corporate clients are investigating how digital can help them communicate more efficiently with their employees. Recently we’ve been working with UK research specialists Hot Spots Movement on a number of social business initiatives, including the design and build of a bespoke online social platform FOWville. Initially built for delegates to the Future of Work initiative, this platform has now evolved into an innovative new internal focused product line for Hot Spots. Using social and gamified mechanics already used outside of the office, this platform has already delivered fantastic levels of participation from board level through every level of employee.
As with all digital initiatives, there is also the beauty of measurability – and we’re seeing a whole new human element to that too. Going beyond open rates, likes and comments, we are now using the application of sentiment analysis, taking us beyond whether something is being read, but how positively or negatively it’s being received.
The inside out approach to brand communications is not new, and has already been proven a success for many. The use of digital to deliver brand messages internally is not new either. Those companies that watch consumer comms moving more towards social and ask themselves how they might apply it to their internal audiences will reap the rewards in 2013.