When thinking about your employee communications strategy, it’s helpful to take a step back and look at the big picture. Whether you currently have a strategy in place, or you’re just starting out, there’s always room for improvement. Ask yourself if there are any areas in your employee communications plan that are missing or could be stronger. Could you improve employee engagement and connect better to your workforce?
Internal communications calendars are extremely useful. They are inclusive, thoughtful, informational and fun. Plus, they allow you to be more organised, and who doesn’t like that? Throughout this post, I’ll walk you through some basics for outlining your internal communications calendar, share examples of themed communication initiatives, and effectively pair your employee communications strategy with recognition efforts.
Outlining your calendar
While I’ll be going through some employee communications best practices in this post, you should first know that when creating an internal communications calendar, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Everyone’s style and calendars are completely unique and dependent on areas specific to your business and priorities.
In most cases, it makes sense to proactively plan around your product launches or events, and increase your organisation’s marketing efforts.
Your internal communications calendar allows you to plan effectively so you can best connect to your workforce, while aligning content to your business objectives. For example, updating your workforce about important company news promotes an open and honest culture.
Pro tip: I’ve found that separating the content projections into four-week intervals is effective. This allows for flexibility and innovation as new conversations with different team members arise. (Depending on your business, it might be possible to create a quarterly or even annual calendar, but leaving room for the last-minute announcements can be key to avoiding headaches!)
Remember, you don’t have to get it right on the first try, you just have to start.
Diversify your communications
Effective employee communications is all about interaction, making connections among people. That’s why it’s key to be open to others’ opinions and hear different voices when creating your internal communications calendar. Essentially, the more eyes you have on your content earlier on, the better.
Planning ahead allows you to share your content with more people ahead of time and involve different areas of the business in the conversation, while keeping managers informed and empowered. Different people provide different insights, allowing your communications to be more inclusive, diverse and open.
Always remember that holding the keys to internal and employee communications means you should always be advocating for two things: the company, and the employees. How can you involve others to reach your goals?
Get your thinking cap on
Engaging your workforce in your communication goes hand-in-hand with recognition. As the Internal Communications Manager at Reward Gateway, I focus our themed communication initiatives on two days of the week in particular. When thinking of names for themed communication, keep it light, simple, and direct. In our case, we use alliteration so that the names are easier to remember, and it also helps make business content more fun.
The first themed communication initiative is called #MissionMondays, which gives employees insight on the latest company updates and news. The goal of Mission Mondays is to use internal communication to re-energise and refocus employees for the start of a new week after the weekend. Plus, at the end of the post there is typically a note at the end to describe what will be happening later in the week. It helps people know what’s coming their way.
The second themed communication initiative is called #ThankyouThursdays, which bring communications and recognition to life. We chose Thursday since it’s a time in the week where you’re not quite at Friday yet and could use a little pick-me-up in the week. On Thursdays, we share great stories about the company and acknowledge the hard work that employees in different departments have done in order to drive engagement.
Plus, while reading internal blog posts, leadership can even send a token of recognition directly to their employees. All it takes is the click of a the "Send Recognition" button to show their appreciation for an employee’s performance. By combining effective employee communications with other features that encourage employee engagement, companies can shine a spotlight on achievements and provide opportunities for recognition.
Here at RG, Thank you Thursdays are our way of extending our culture of continuous recognition into our communications. They’re natural, organic and frequent. And they tie back into our Moments of Recognition Everyday (MORE) program, which is full of awards and eCards.
How to make messages stick
So, you’ve figured out your internal communications calendar and created your content that’s packed with powerful messages to connect with your employees. Great! But, how do you make sure that your messages stick? More importantly, is your employee communications plan is strong enough?
One idea is using easily recognisable icons that reflect certain categories and can jumpstart your employees’ interest in new content. Here at RG, we use different icons reflective of our brand colors to subtly hint at what a new piece of internal communication is about.
Using a green tree icon to symbolize the environment is a good example of this. When people see this they’ll automatically know and if the post resonates with them, they’re more likely to read it.
It’s a tough battle in Internal Communications to not get stuck in the "reactive" work, where you’re simply reacting to things that are happening rather than planning ahead, but it can be done. When in doubt, realise that your internal communications calendars should be a reflection of your company culture and your continuous effort to better connect to your employees.
When internal communications calendars include themed content and focus on inclusivity, planning out your weeks ahead of time are not only easier but more exciting. Along your journey of establishing an employee communications strategy, remember to have fun, embrace diversity and think big.