How the right internal comms strategy can help you to retain employees

The past two years have changed many things: the way we live, the way we travel, the way we shop. Many of us are still regretting those lockdown purchases we thought were essential. Pizza oven, anyone?

The way we work has changed too, as well as the way we communicate.

During the pandemic, companies relied on internal communicators more than ever to share essential information to their workforces. Thankfully as a result, we’ve seen a shift in the way companies view the role of internal comms. It is now seen as a key business unit, essential to the future of work.

The “Great Resignation” has also highlighted the importance of keeping employees engaged, happy and informed. Recently, the UK Labour Force Survey found that resignations and job-to-job moves in the UK are at the highest level in 20 years.

As businesses refocus their efforts on attracting and retaining talent, internal comms will play a key role in establishing a two-way conversation with existing workers and embedding employee experience into all processes.

Importantly, success can’t be achieved with a one-size-fits-all approach. Internal comms strategies should be tailored to meet employee needs, which requires being mindful of the differences between desk and non-desk workers.

Building internal narratives

Helping all employees understand why they are still at the company when others are leaving, from office and hybrid workers to non-desk workers, is key. As such, internal narratives should be built with the organisation’s purpose and mission in mind, helping individuals to understand what’s in it for them.

Empathetic leaders are important for communicating these messages and fostering a positive and inclusive company culture, so developing strong leadership and CEO communications strategies should be a top priority.

Employee surveys are also critical for gathering feedback and making sure people’s voices are heard. The findings - good and bad - should be communicated transparently across the organisation, along with how the company plans to act on them.

It’s also important to remember that staff turnover is normal. Provided you have effectively communicated the ‘why’, when an employee leaves, it’s more likely that it was the right time for them to pursue another opportunity anyway.

Bridging the communications gap for deskless workers

These methods will only work if they are tailored to each employee - and a key segment of the workforce that companies cannot afford to overlook is deskless employees.

While non-desk workers make up nearly 80% of the global workforce, retention rates are low. Communicating effectively with non-desk workers is critical to keeping them engaged, yet organisations have struggled to get it right.

The type of work non-desk staff do makes it more difficult to reach them, so it can be challenging to ensure that they are receiving a good employee experience. Fortunately, the shift towards digital working means there are now a number of ways to get important information to non-desk workers, ensuring they are happy and engaged.

Some deskless workers won’t have email addresses, so internal comms teams need a multi-channel communications strategy. Employee apps should be factored into internal comms plans, as they enable important processes, such as health and safety policies, to be stored in one place. These platforms also allow employees to report hazard issues, helping to create safer working environments.

Employee apps also enable push notifications - a valuable tool for reaching workers who lack corporate email addresses or company desktops. Content such as corporate news updates and social channels can be tailored to each employee, promoting a feeling of alignment within teams and the wider company.

Internal communicators are critical to the future success of organisations today. Effective communication is dependent on understanding that each worker has a different set of needs - whether they are at a desk, in a factory or on the road. If this is done well you can create a happier, safer and more informed workforce, which is fundamental to retaining talented employees.

Written by Lottie Bazley, senior strategic internal communications adviser at internal communications platform Staffbase

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