Career & Jobs

14 Ways To Build An Effective Employee Communication Plan

Leaders in many different industries are well-aware of how critical employee engagement is for a company’s success. Engaging employees isn’t a natural skill, however. Leaders who are interested in getting employees to respond need to show that they value their input in everyday communication.

Employees who contribute because they want to, and not because they’re expected to, tend to be more honest in their contact. For executives who wish to promote a more communicative office, 14 experts from Forbes Communications Council highlight the things these leaders should keep in mind when building an effective employee communication plan.

Photos courtesy of the individual members

1. Ask Employees What They Need

CEOs like to talk, and that’s great. But employees will easily zone out and feel unappreciated if what the CEO is talking about doesn’t impact them, and the gap between the CEO and the company’s front-line workforce widens. Don’t guess what employees want to hear. Ask them. Survey employees, take a company poll, create an employee-led task force with a direct feedback loop to the CEO. – Monica McCafferty, MCM Strategies LLC

2. Acknowledge The Good And The Bad

Recognizing company-wide achievements is important, but equally important is acknowledging missteps. Employees will feel more valued if concerns they have are addressed outright along with a path forward. Good communicators will keep a careful balance of both in order to promote healthy engagement. – Ashley Murphy, Brown Harris Stevens

3. Include Their Feedback In Business Decisions

As new products are designed and built, it’s smart business to get employee feedback and incorporate their suggestions early on, especially the front-line staff. They are very valuable sources to understand what customers expect and need. When employees feel heard and empowered, they are more satisfied, which fuels customers’ happiness. Attitude is contagious. – Stacy Sherman, Customer Experience Expert

4. Schedule Regular Meetings

You can’t meet with all levels of your organization at all times, but you can create a schedule that allows for you to meet with them all within a two-week period. This way, you will have insight from all levels and the opportunity to act, if necessary, before an issue has gotten worse. This also allows the team to see that management is attentive and responding to their concerns. – Ken Gibbs, Viacom

5. Make It About The Employees

Very often, employee communication plans are only about the voice of the leaders and the voice of the organization. It should instead be focused on employees to address their need for information, alignment, visibility and connection. One definite way for them to feel valued and trusted is to listen to them, genuinely seek their opinion/feedback and take necessary action. – Jyoti Khan, Tata Communications

6. Hold Daily Toolbox Talks

Each morning, supervisors in each department take time before their day starts to meet with everyone in their department at a toolbox and talk to go over any changes, announcements, etc. This is a collaborative time when everyone is encouraged to discuss the topics and ask questions or bring up a concern they have recently seen. Giving everyone time to speak on the same level instills trust and value. – Sarah Lero, Peerless Products Inc

7. Enable Bidirectional Communication

One of the most commonly overlooked components of an internal communication program is that communication should go both directions. If all the company does is have its leaders speak at employees, it’s incredibly hard to generate engagement. Instead, ask for employees to share their wins and experiences with each other to create a more engaging and trusting environment. – Amanda Bohne, AppNeta

8. Create A ‘Follow-Through’ Plan

More often than not, employees are hungry for opportunities to engage, ask questions and offer feedback on how we could improve. That said, they’re equally hungry, if not hungrier, to have their voices heard and their feedback actioned. When rolling out engagement and communication plans, put equal focus on your plan to explore and follow through on feedback. – Yoni Solomon, G2 (formerly G2 Crowd)

9. Have Real, Honest Talks

I have regular staff meetings, one-on-one catch-ups and team workshops on a regular cadence. The frequency of regular communication is important, but equally — if not more — important is the quality of the information exchanged when you have time together. I believe in having real talk with my team members, honest feedback and coaching in the moment. – Tesa Aragones, vsco.co

10. Create A Communications Content Calendar

Just as you do for external communications, create a content calendar to track and deploy internal communications. During challenging times, over-communicate to your team with messages of positivity, solutions and support. When you show your company believes in the ability of its employees, they will work through difficulties with renewed courage and be more likely to believe in themselves. – Melissa Kandel, little word studio

11. Create Personalized Communication

Your communication should not be based on informing or instructing but rather serve as a method of engagement with your employees. Keep your conversation personalized and ask for their insights, as employees feel appreciated if you listen to them and respond in a personalized way. – Haseeb Tariq, Formerly Disney/Fox

12. Leverage Omnichannel Communication

As much as possible, amplify employee communications across multiple channels. For example, for all-company meetings, provide a livestream, a video recording and written notes with a TL;DR executive summary at the top. People have different communication preferences in terms of media and in terms of timing. Allow your employees to absorb the information in the way that is best for them. – Ellen Sluder, RingBoost

13. Use A Robust, Accessible Video Strategy

Video is more personal than any other form of communication, so it’s important that it’s leveraged to keep employees engaged and productive. Whether it’s a mobile video app or a livestreamed town hall meeting, employees can connect on deeper levels when video is their channel of communication. – Sara Larsen, Brightcove

14. Take A 360-Degree Approach

It is easy to create silos of knowledge and communication when everybody works remotely. Employee communication is the responsibility of all group leaders. Every role has a responsibility to communicate and explain what their group does, how it fits in the overall company agenda, as well as when and how other functions should engage the group. – Isabelle Dumont, Cowbell Cyber

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