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Posted on 09.18.2017

The First Rule of Internal Communications

Communicating with employees is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. That is, the tactics that can be used to effectively share information within a company of 50 employees in one office are not likely to be the same as the tactics needed to reach the physicians and staff of a multi-hospital health system.


Particularly in healthcare — where clinical staff may work odd hours and be disconnected from email for large chunks of time (or simply go days or weeks without checking it) — employers must take care to understand exactly how and when employees want to hear from them. This is especially true when your organization has sensitive or timely information to disseminate.


So what tactics do you use? To find out, you must first ask your employees.


An employee communication survey is an important first step for any organization looking to begin or enhance their internal communications — whether for the purpose of boosting engagement and morale or preparing for an important upcoming announcement, like a merger or acquisition. By asking the right questions, you can understand how and when your employees want to hear from you – and what they need to perform their jobs well.


You can find out if employees are reading their email and, if so, at what time of day. If everyone is checking at 6 p.m., that’s when you should be sending out your communications. Are they visiting your company’s intranet page for news? Do they prefer to receive information through face-to-face meetings with their managers or in regular team/staff meetings? Do they ever read that monthly newsletter you spend so much time putting together? The answers will help you determine what tactics, or mix of tactics, you should rely on most heavily to reach your people.


Don’t be surprised, of course, if the responses show a range of preferences – especially if you have a diverse workforce (location, job type, ethnicity, age, tenure, etc.). You may discover that the right tactics for your organization are a combination of several communications vehicles – like email, followed by an in-person morning meeting or all-staff conference call.  


You won’t know what’s best for your company until you ask your people. And if you’re like most companies, you’ll get better participation if you 1) keep responses anonymous and 2) you incentivize employees to share their perspectives (yes! you can do both at the same time!). Just remember - the more people who participate, and the more candid and genuine their feedback, the better and more useful the results will be.


From there, you’ll be on your way to designing an internal communications program that reaches your workforce.


For more information on internal communications surveys and tactics, contact Lovell Communications at info@lovell.com.


Erin George is a Senior Account Supervisor at Lovell Communications. Connect with Erin at erin@lovell.com.

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