How to Make Your Inter-Team Communications Work For A Digital, Diverse, Distributed World

By Keith Kitani, CEO at GuideSpark

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In 2020, the world of work changed overnight; all at once, companies were implementing more digital systems in an extremely short timeframe, and transforming into hybrid or completely remote workforces.Now that much of the dust has settled from this first overhaul, business leaders are realizing that many of these changes are here to stay – for good. While there are numerous efficiency gains that come with a hybrid work environment, there are challenges, too. With employee communications now inherently needing to be digital, employees are overwhelmed with information and messaging,and it’s clear that this enterprise “noise” will only continue to increase. We’re now in a unique time in the modern workplace where reaching employees is getting harder, yet it’s also more critical than ever for HR to drive key people programs. For example, we’re seeing a huge trend in rethinking experiences around core programs like onboarding to work better for a distributed workforce.

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Here’s a framework to improve HR and team communications to work better for your distributed, diverse, digital employees, with a specific example around onboarding:

Reassess what works (and doesn’t) for a hybrid workforce

When in-person meetings were more common, an hour-long session to convey valuable information may have worked for your employees. But in this more digital, dispersed environment, we’re all in a position to completely rethink what will engage employees most effectively. Simply moving that meeting into a long-form webinar may not be enough to grab – and hold – the attention of your audience. Consider your other communication methods, even if they’re already digital-friendly; does a long, “all-in-one” newsletter still work for your audience? Or would breaking down your messaging into more digestible pieces be easier for them to engage with? Think also about the channels you most often see employees organically engaging with. Leveraging platforms like Slack, email, or MS Teams is a great way to reach employees where they already are. This new digitalized work environment is a perfect opportunity to reshape the way we communicate with our changing workforce for the better.

Create targeted, relevant communications

The more relevant your communications are, the more likely they’ll be clicked on, read, and engaged with. In other words, expecting your “one-size-fits-all” email to work for your entire workforce is unrealistic in this world of personalized marketing. Consider segmenting your employees according to critical demographic information, like location or department, and tailor your communications to serve those groups, and leverage a platform that makes it simple to personalize messages – like emails with first names – to grab attention even quicker.

Don’t forget tone and style

Communication isn’t just about what information you need to deliver, but how you convey your points. Your tone and voice go a long way toward reinforcing your internal brand and, most importantly, your company culture. It’s important to remember everything employees have been through in the last year, and to use communications that reflect the empathy they deserve – especially for messaging around company announcements or news that might have a major effect on the workforce.

Measure your communications to see what’s working

Communicating well with your employees doesn’t stop at “sent.” It’s critical that you frequently monitor the pulse and impact of the messages you deliver. Platforms and tools that can track data and engagement analytics are a huge help here – keep an eye on whether your messages are being read, and even further, if the outcomes you’re seeking are successful. For example, if you’re launching a benefits enrollment campaign, are you also seeing a positive increase in enrollment numbers? If you’re not seeing the outcomes you need, your communications are not getting through, and you are probably just adding to the digital noise – which means a change of course is necessary.

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Leverage tools to help manage, measure, and automate

As your enterprise becomes increasingly digital, your communications should follow suit. There’s no reason to approach communications – including the personalization and targeting I’ve mentioned here – manually. Modern communication tools and platforms can automate campaigns and personalization, so launching and orchestrating communications across your enterprise is attainable. The behind-the-scenes work, like employee segmentation, personalization, and scheduling the right timing and cadence can all be automated, allowing your organization to scale effective communications.

In particular, we’ve seen many companies focusing on a new way to approach onboarding. Bringing on new hires is a major driver of long-term retention and helps accelerate productivity, but in this more digitalcontext, many of the traditional approaches to onboarding are losing effectiveness. Here’s how to apply our methodology to onboarding a distributed and diverse workforce:

    1. Reimagine the onboarding experienceby transforming orientation into amulti-month campaignthat provides a consistent communication across all your employee groups.
    2. Support every unique new team hire– including those who are remote –with customized experiences that are relevant to their department and role.
    3. Integratenew hires into the company culture from day one – use a consistent and welcoming tone, and provide videos and resources about the company, executive team, and mission.
    4. Integrate managers into the onboarding process to support their new hires, significantly improving the new hire experience.Sending concurrent communications and nudges at the right time will ensure managers are helping new hires be successful.
    5. Measure what new hires are engaging with, and if there are major gaps in what’s grabbing their attention, use that data to change course.
    6. Automate onboarding campaigns easily, using your employee data from your Human Capital Management (HCM) system.Managing communications for concurrent new hire groups as often as weekly –each time with multi-month campaigns – can be a daunting task, but new communication technology allows you toautomatically launch and manage great onboarding experiences.

Despite the challenges of this distributed work environment, it’s also the perfect opportunity to rethink and reimagine the way you approach key HR programs. Onboarding is a perfect example of a program that has major ripple effects throughout the organization and can impact your organization many years into the future – in other words, it’s a crucial program to get right. Reworking our understanding of what great onboarding can look like, then using the technology and modern tools to help get there, can boost the success of onboarding programs and the company itself. This “rethinking” approach is exactly the agile, flexible mindset that will see organizations through the next normal.

 

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