channeling the right

How to “Channel” the Right Messages For Your Workplace

By Tom Starner | 3-min read

Don’t be fooled: Effectively communicating with employees won’t happen by using a single, “one size fits all” app. To get there requires a layered, nuanced, and tailored multi-channel strategy.

On paper, the concept of using an “employee communication app” sounds like a simple, easy way to really get the word out in internal situations, as apps are ubiquitous, convenient, and designed with mobile users in mind. Long-term adoption of apps is low, however, and most lose nearly 60% of their users within 30 days of download. While an app is often viewed as a quick fix, employee communication is a much more complex challenge, requiring a broader, more complex solution. In fact, establishing successful employee communication about core topics – benefits; compensation; company events; culture – only occurs with a sustained multi-channel approach. 

Recent research by IDG and Guidespark revealed that roughly 60% of employees find their employer’s communications difficult to access and understand. In another survey from Bambu HR, a third of employees reported that they were not included in internal communications. Why? It’s likely that many of those employees never got the message. A multi-channel approach can ensure most employees are reached by your message.

Much like successful consumer marketing campaigns, the best employee-facing marketing efforts use multiple vehicles, or “channels,” to deliver compelling, action-oriented information to employee audiences.

Multi-channel is the best path to success

A multi-channel strategy can include digital channels (e-mail, web banners and applications, and integrations with employee-to-employee messaging and communication apps), and tested “analog” channels (posters, postcards, and people, especially managers) that create a fulfilling employee experience.

It’s not enough, however, to string together a patchwork of messages – especially sending the same messages repeatedly in different formats. Multi-channel campaigns must strike a balance between repetition and freshness/variation, keeping three primary goals in mind:

  • Firing up the employee audience
  • Ensuring they clearly know how to take action
  • Constantly reinforcing the value of taking the desired action

Messaging and communication apps definitely have a place in a multi-channel strategy. But, as noted, they represent only one piece in solving the total communications puzzle. Whatever they promise, single communication channel platforms, like apps, can’t deliver on their own what a proven multi-channel communication strategy can deliver.

Short attention spans are rising

It’s no secret: Employee attention spans are shorter today. As in the consumer world, simple and short messaging is growing as one go-to strategy.

It’s clear why this is so important. You are communicating (or “selling”) something valuable – your company – to both current and potential employees. Your “product” is all the reasons that your company is a desirable place to work. What’s the ROI in making this “sale”? Boosting retention, productivity and the ability to attract top talent top the list.

Intranet portals and lengthy emails sent out once or twice a year are yesterday’s news: They no longer will connect employees to your messaging and programs. Effective content is bite-sized, more frequently delivered, and much more focused. Short-form cooking videos, memes and listicles dominate social media these days for a reason – and the workplace is no different.

Employees are consumers too

Employee expectations for workplace communication are shaped by their experience as consumers. By adopting strategies from consumer marketing, like multi-channel campaigns and short-form content, HR leaders can reach out and grab the golden ring: greatly improving communication effectiveness, while simultaneously driving the bottom-line.

Research shows that nearly half of HR leaders report that they use a one-size-fits-all approach to employee communication. That could explain why only half of employees rate their organization’s HR communications highly. There is no single, “right” philosophy here. Each employer needs to use the best mix of communication channels, and it needs to be a mix that reflects the makeup of their employee population and the company culture.

Effectively driving a multi-faceted employee communication strategy is something that an app can’t do on its own. That objective takes a tailored, multi-channel strategy.

Choosing that ideal mix of channels will take some planning and legwork. But as you get the messages out and see employee engagement with communications and programs rise in the workplace, it won’t be long before you find that it’s well worth the effort.