Transparent workplaces are happier workplaces. If you want to make your company more transparent, start with an employee-centered internal comms plan. It will help employees feel heard and valued for their input.
This guide will walk you through the benefits of this type of plan and show you how to create one. There’s also a template to help you document the plan so everyone can reference it as needed.
A traditional internal comms plan overwhelmingly places managers at the center of communication. In this model, managers decide what to communicate and how to communicate it. For example, a manager may decide to inform employees of new quarterly goals or objectives via email or whichever channel they personally prefer.
An internal comms plan that’s employee-centric encourages info to flow both ways. It specifies who leads a particular conversation during certain situations and which channel the exchange takes place in. For example, the plan might stipulate that employees can offer feedback about a new policy or software via a Google Form that will then go to a member of the HR team.
This kind of plan fosters an environment of collaboration and engagement. It also involves your employees in the creation phase so that all aspects of the plan work for everyone.
A strong communication plan is essential for workplace transparency. In a transparent workplace, everyone understands what the organization’s mission is and how their work plays a role in achieving that mission. Frontline employees also know that managers hear their concerns and value their ideas, rather than treating them as cogs in a machine.
In a review of 12 studies auditing internal communication, Kevin Ruck and Mary Welch found that only 60% of employees felt confident that they knew the direction of the organization they were working for.
What’s more, Gallup’s 2017 State of the Workplace report found that 85% of employees are disengaged at work. One solution brought forth in a report from McKinsey Global Institute recommends having a strategic communications plan that leverages social tech, like Slack or even Twitter. According to the report, using social media internally can raise workplace productivity by 20 to 25%.
Here’s what to consider when creating a strategic communications plan:
What to share
How to share it
When to share it
Communication in times of crisis
Consider the types of info people should share that improve transparency and engagement. On a daily basis, this could be:
Status reports from employees and managers about project progress
Recognition from managers to employees or from employees to their peers
Info from managers about roll-outs of new policies, operations, or tools
Feedback from employees about whether or not the implementation of new policies or tools is working for them
In every case, communication should flow in both directions.
Managers should also leave the door open for feedback year-round, not just during annual performance review periods. Create channels that allow employees to confidently share concerns, suggestions, or insights about the company’s progress or the workplace.
Companies often default to email as the primary channel of internal communication, but you may find tools that better suit how your people work and communicate. Here are some other obvious options:
In-person meetings (when it’s safe)
Messaging software like Slack
Printed forms or templates
Also, part of your internal comms plan should designate—or at least suggest—the best channel(s) for each type of info.
We might be biased (we are!) but if you’re looking for a tool to help with internal comms, Pingboard comes equipped with a lot to help facilitate open and transparent communication:
A homepage where managers can share company-wide announcements
Applause, our simple and fun peer-to-peer recognition tool
An “away message”—called Status—that easily integrates with Slack to let employees know who is out and also share when they’ll be unavailable
How often should employees send updates about the progress of their work? When do one-on-one meetings happen between managers and employees? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself and your team when developing an internal comms plan.
It’s impossible to prepare perfectly for every emergency, but having the foundation of a crisis communication plan as part of your internal comms can go a long way toward instilling confidence in your team and developing trust in the company’s management.
Different types of crises will require situation-specific info to share. The circumstances and type of content shared will dictate which communication channel should be used to share it. Think about what info and channels work best for:
Power outages or tech malfunctions
Clearly document your crisis communication plan and review it with your team before an issue arises. Also consider printing out key details and contact info for each employee to have in case of emergency.
Once you create the plan, determine who will be in charge of different parts of it. For example:
A department leader will likely monitor for employee updates about project progress
An HR specialist may need to be in charge of reviewing and forwarding employee feedback about the company
An operations manager might head communication in times of crisis
Documenting your communications plan is vital for making sure your team actually uses it. Start by filling out this template for each type of info that needs to be shared in your company, then store the document in a shared folder so everyone can access it.
An employee-centric internal communications plan doesn’t just ensure that information flows freely between employees and management, it also involves employees in the plan creation process.