Internal communications are the gateway to build culture at work. When information flows freely, clearly and transparently your culture at work improves through increased trust. This trust sets a strong foundation for the rest of the elements of a strong culture at work to thrive.
When employees trust they are receiving information in a timely, open and honest manner they are more likely to feel engaged with the organization’s goals and motivated to achieve those goals. Where would you rather work? In a culture of secrecy where profits are a mystery and where you aren’t sure what is happening beyond your immediate team, or where you are kept up-to-date with company achievements and you know you’ll be among the first to hear any news that is company related?
And a healthy culture at work isn’t just about sharing financial information or big events that impact strategy, it’s about communicating day to day and making sure all aspects of internal communication are flowing openly and effectively. Here are five things you can do right away to improve your internal communications and have a strong positive impact on your culture at work:
1. Challenge Yourself to Be Open
Managers need to lead by example so if your internal communication needs improving it often starts with you. It’s difficult to open up and share information. Not only does it take dedicated time and effort, it also means being really clear yourself about what information your people need.
- Start by walking around – yes even in 2022 Management By Wandering Around (MBWA) is still a thing! But now means getting creative to stay in touch when your people are dispersed and not everyone works in the same physical space. Regardless, checking in with people regularly is priority number one.
- Open door is more than just a buzzword. You really need to practice this skill and make sure people know they can come to you with anything. Set aside time every week where you are available for people to pop-in (virtually or in person) to ask questions, get feedback or just chat about life. The information shared during meetings like this builds trust and improves your culture at work
- Share successes and failures. Transparency starts with honesty, and nothing in life is always rosy. When you commit to sharing the good, the bad and the ugly you enhance trust – period! Be prepared to share organizational successes and failures including sensitive topics like financial setbacks, lost sales opportunities and negative feedback from the Board or owners. You never want your people to hear news (good or bad) from an external source first.
2. Optimize Your Communication Channels
There are so many ways to share information and everyone has a preference. Some people love reading a weekly newsletter and others like to keep up in real time with online collaboration tools and social media type applications. Likewise some people prefer emails rather than messaging, while others still like to discuss things in person through phone or video calls. Often the message is what determines the communication choice but there should always be choices available. This is where optimization comes in.
- Think about the tools and channels you are using and why. There is an optimal number. Talk to your people and find out what is most efficient, for what type of information and for whom, making sure there is a mix that allows all types of workers to have access to information at the same time. This mix can include a wide range of tools from an intranet and digital signs to video chatting and instant messaging.
- Within the mix, provide employees with a platform for knowledge sharing. Whether sharing industry news or sharing a team picture, social media type applications enhance your culture at work by creating a community where people can learn and share together.
- Collaboration tools are also important. These tools enable people to keep up to date with what is happening on specific projects. When employees are ‘in the know’ in real time it increases their engagement and improves productivity.
3. Incorporate Feedback Loops
Feedback is imperative to building a great culture at work through improved internal communication. People want to know their ideas and perspectives are valued. That means making sure you have systems in place to capture their voices and being open and straightforward about the feedback you receive.
- Create formal systems for gathering employee input. Yes, informal information sharing is important and you can learn a lot from these types of conversations however when you make it formal, through suggestion boxes and surveys, you elevate your level of accountability to follow through.
- Recognize that not all ideas are good ideas but they all deserve to be acknowledged. Let employees know what happens to their ideas and feedback once received. If you don’t close the loop they will just assume their idea was ‘file 13’d’ and will be less likely to provide suggestions in the future.
- Assess how well you are listening to your people and commit to continuously improving in this area. Front-line people often have the best insight into your business so not listening represents a lot of missed opportunities.
4. Encourage Camaraderie
Bring people together! It’s great for your internal communication and it’s even better for your culture at work. When people are together they build bonds, and whether it’s company focused conversation or idle chitchat, these relationships are what will ensure high quality communication takes place when it really matters.
- Bring back the watercooler – or some modern, germ free, digital iteration of the same. When people are working, make sure they know it’s ok to spontaneously gather and chat. Sometimes work needs to be ‘heads-down, no interruption, get it done’ time and sometimes people need a space to clear their head, share a laugh or vent.
- Encourage social gatherings. Plan large team parties, host fun competitions or have happy hours after work. These fun events bring people together for the sole purpose of being together and building a community. This creates a sense of belonging and contributes to increased confidence sharing ideas and being ones true self.
- Rearrange the physical office to reinforce that sharing and collaborating are key to your culture at work. Reduce the use of offices and cubicles. Mix people up occasionally. Think of ways to bring different people together to learn about one another, share perspectives and collaborate on projects.
5. Communicate and Reinforce the Big Picture
Good internal communication relies on people knowing their purpose. They need to know what direction they are heading and how they are supposed to get there. This requires a solid understanding of your mission and vision and values. Communications should circle back to these core elements every chance you get.
- Ensure your mission, vision and values are living and breathing elements of your culture at work. Refer to them often to make sure they aren’t simply read during onboarding and then again at the start of the annual kick-off meeting.
- Communicate the strategy and goals regularly. Tie them back to the mission and values as well as the operational and individual goals team and employees set for themselves. Remember your feedback loops and make sure there are opportunities for employees to contribute their ideas at multiple points throughout the planning process.
- Answer questions related to the strategy and vision so that all your people really understand your True North. Too often these concepts are written as grandiose platitudes that lack any real substance or direction. When people truly understand what their organization wants to accomplish they are much more likely to communicate with each other and support each other to reach the goal.
Internal communications are a significant driver of your culture at work. Done well, they ensure your people are onboard and pulling in the same direction. And good communication doesn’t need to be flashy, it just needs to be grounded in a genuine desire to create an honest and transparent culture at work that includes everyone in the message and encourages everyone’s input.
If you want a comprehensive view of how employees are experiencing your culture at work and how you can maintain their trust, ask us about our employee survey and culture management platform.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® makes it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Clients apply our insights, advice, and tools to fuel the vision, decisions and actions that drive business performance.