Internal communication: Where’s it going wrong?

When your company’s internal communication is fragmented and unstructured, it leads to confusion and uncertainty among your employees. That, in turn, results in dissatisfied customers and lost resources. But where exactly is it going wrong? Does your communication have too many levels, are you using the wrong platforms, or are you relying on obsolete one-way communication? In this article we guide you through the benefits of conducting good internal communication and the pitfalls that most often lead to frustration.

Are you playing Telephone with your internal communication?

“Karen loves soft cats” can magically turn into ”the hare kneads bread and hats”, when the sentence is whispered from one person to another. Unfortunately, this phenomenon, known from the whispering party game Telephone, is pretty common within internal communications.

Just like the good old whispering game, your internal communication messages can quickly become distorted. Especially if the information goes through too many links in the chain before it gets all the way to it’s receiver.

Whether it’s practical instructions or social initiatives, expect confusion and wasted resources if your original message is not what reaches your recipient. It might start with an email from the CEO to a Branch Manager, then a quick voicemail to the Head of Department, before becoming a post-it in the staff room. And in many organisations, there are even more links this poor message must go through, before it ends up at its destination.

The situation is particularly bad in distributed workplaces. According to Forbes, 84% of deskless workers say they don’t get enough direct communication from top management.

When your employees, who engage in customer contact, don’t get the right information or are in doubt, it will affect the customer service and your customers might receive the wrong messages. This should obviously not happen; therefore, it is definitely worth investing both time and money in securing your internal communication in the organisation.

Having an online communication channel where your employees receive messages directly, and where they can ask questions which are resolved (almost) immediately, will result in knowledgeable employees, who provide better customer service, and avoid duplication of work and wasted time.

Many Academy clients use text messages to get directly in touch with their employees with important updates. When PALÆO received a wrong shipment of french fries, the first thing they did was send a text message to employees in their restaurants. Within a minute, all staff had been notified.

First one way, then the other

The traditional way of communicating – especially in larger organisations – is one-way communication: top-down. One-way communication is when management sends out an email, or when middle managers pass on information at staff meetings – but there is no communication from the employees back to management. 

Nowadays, most organisations want feedback; a place where employees can report back to the decision-makers on what works in the real world. Unfortunately, organisations where employees and management can go into a dialogue about processes, workflows, and culture are still far and few between. 

This is a shame, because employees and management have the same goal: a healthy work environment, relevant training, and creating a viable business with good experiences for their customers. 

If you choose to invest in two-way communication and open forums for your employees, priceless knowledge sharing can see the light of day. Workflows can also be optimised with feedback from those who know them best – thus benefitting the entire organisation and its customers. 

Nordjyllands Trafikselskab’s drivers can directly report traffic conditions, suggestions on timetable changes, and much more on their Academy system – because they know what is happening on the roads and among the passengers. In their forum on the system, the drivers can quickly share news from the timetables to their colleagues – just as employees at HiFi Klubben can share knowledge across five countries and quickly get a response from peers on technical questions they receive from customers.

Internal communication that promotes engagement

According to a Gallup survey, it is only approx. 33% of employees who are actively engaged in their work. The engaged employees have 20% higher turnover, make 40% fewer mistakes and have as much as 70% fewer occupational injuries than their colleagues with low engagement.

An important parameter is having a platform for gathering internal communication with clear messages and the opportunity for feedback in order to engage as many of your employees as possible. Lack of communication about longterm strategies and current practices conversely leads to several days a year where employees call in ´sick´, as they do not feel properly prepared or taken seriously. 

Keolis launched their Academy system in February 2019, and in the past years the employee satisfaction has been steadily increasing. The difference can also be seen in the completion of the annual employee satisfaction survey, which is now issued through their Academy system – the percentage of employees who complete the survey is increasing, and is currently at more than 75%.

Social media platforms are not made for internal communication

Many smaller organisations use social platforms for internal communication, as their employees already know and use services such as Facebook and WhatsApp. Maybe your organisation uses similar platforms? 

On the positive side, employees are used to checking the platform and signing on regularly, which means there is a greater chance they will see important messages. But social platforms are rarely optimised for knowledge sharing or top of mind, and it weakens your internal communication strategy overall. So many other things are happening in those same media feeds, so users are quickly redirected to other content that catches the eye. 

In a feed that contains all kinds of distractions, core knowledge can be quickly lost. Knowledge sharing is diluted and important posts will quickly disappear in the endless stream of information. Where exactly do you find the cleaning schedule in a Messenger thread with 50 employees trying to plan rotas, report on sold out items, and sharing memes? 

It is relevant to divide information so your employees only have to view content that is relevant for them. But essential knowledge sharing can happen in small groups that never reach the employees in other threads, when information is shared on platforms that are not intended for the purpose. 

Therefore, it is important to analyse your organisation’s needs and find a communication platform that fits your structure and the information you need to share on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
Choosing a communication channel simply because it is accessible and free is an easy mistake to make. You will save money in the short run, but you can lose even more due to incorrect communication, lack of onboarding, and the resulting inadequate level of costumer service.
Indeks Retail are running many campaigns in their three chains: Bog & Idé, BOGhandleren and Legekæden. On their Academy system, employees can easily find campaign material for upcoming, current, and older campaigns – because you never know when you will need that good shelf front again. All material is organised so it can be easily accessed from the main menu, and at the same time all relevant information can be found with tags and keywords in the search box.

Get your message across quickly and to all, using the right communication platform

You probably know it well: sometimes you have to move fast! A product is recalled, the cleaning routines must be updated, or a new campaign needs to be launched ahead of the original schedule. Many things can happen in both small and large organisations that require information to come out at the speed of light. 

Therefore, is it essential that you know how internal communication reaches the right recipients, and that you have a communication platform where you can get to everyone with just one click. 

When FynBus needed to launch a new ticket product quickly, they used Academy to ensure drivers were informed and trained. Within 24 hours, 60% of drivers were certified in the new product and all 900 drivers were informed. With an active message accept-function and thorough data collection, it was easy to see if the messages had been received, read, and understood.

Leaving voicemail messages or sending emails where you don’t know if the recipient has heard or read the message is both frustrating and ineffective. You end up with employees who have not received the message, and who therefore will act incorrectly or give wrong information to customers. 

You can avoid all these horrible scenarios by investing in a good communication platform for your employees. 

With the communication platform Academy, you not only optimise your internal communication, it also includes pre- and onboarding, ongoing training as well as a lot of motivating gamification and data collection. 

Would you like to know more about how Academy can help your organisation optimise your internal communication? Read more about the platform here.

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