What is internal communication?

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What is internal communication

In this podcast episode, I talk about the difference between employee engagement, employee experience and internal communication and the importance of alignment between all three.

In my book, I share the definitions of each of these:

Employee engagement: “A workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organisation’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organisational success and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being.” – Macleod and Clarke, 2009

Internal communication: “Everything that gets said and shared inside of an organisation. As a function, its role is to curate, enable, and advise on best practice for organisations to communicate effectively, efficiently and in an engaging way.” – Field, 2017

Employee experience: “Creating an operating environment that inspires your people to do great things.” Maylett and Wride. Or, according to Jacob Morgan; “Designing an organisation where people want to show up by focusing on the cultural, technological, and physical environments.”

Understandably, the employee experience and engagement definitions focus on individuals and their wellbeing more than communication. But all three are intrinsically linked and understanding how they differ and work together is important for organisations of any size.

Macleod and Clarke also talk about four main enablers to employee engagement alongside their definition:

  1. A strong strategic narrative
  2. Engaging managers who focus on their people and treat them as individuals
  3. Providing employees with a voice throughout the organisations for reinforcing and challenging views
  4. Ensuring there is organisational integrity – the values are implicit, not just wallpaper.

In my experience, these four enablers are not of equal weight. I believe the narrative is more important than others. I have worked in organisations where this has been strong and the opportunity for employee voice has been low, but people have been engaged and turnover has been low. I have also worked in other organisations where it’s been the other way round and there were lots of people leaving.

I think there is more research to be done here, but I would encourage leaders to think about where they can invest the most time and how employee engagement will be measured. That’s the biggest question for me – how do you measure it? I cover some of this in my book where I discuss the need for measures to be useful and not for the sake of it – it’s an easy trap to fall into.

What is important is that we look at all the aspects around internal communication and employee engagement together and make sure that things are aligned. I cover this in a blog post linking everything to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Aligning needs to employee engagement – how we can easily get it wrong with the best intentions.

In a post-pandemic world, I’d encourage you to define how each of these “needs” translate in your organisation. Be clear about what each one means for you and your culture and, importantly, make sure it’s clear what it is not.

The clients I’m working with at the moment, going through The Field Model, are focused on how things need to change for the new world of work. The employee experience is more important than ever and how you communicate and engage your employees to create an efficient organisation is on the agenda for all of us right now.

Find out more about The Field Model in action in these two case studies for Gallagher Employee Experience and Communication and The Evolution Project, or get in touch for a free 15-minute chat about improving your employee engagement, internal communication and employee experience.

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