A perspective from the meta-level
Why should a company value internal communication? Search engines and online encyclopaedias know:
With the help of internal communication
- organisations improve their internal processes and increase their efficiency,
- informs management about important corporate decisions and creates transparency,
- communication managers promote dialogue, motivate the workforce and increase the emotional bond with the company.
What the search engine also provides is a cornucopia of digital solutions that are supposed to contribute to the success of modern employee communication. So far so good.
"work - don't chat"
What could an investment-shy sceptic say to the arguments just listed?
- "Improve processes and increase efficiency? I do it myself - every day. Otherwise I ask my brother-in-law, who is a management consultant."
- "Transparency? That's the nonsense the media preach every day too."
- "Promote dialogue and emotional connection; since when do we do marriage counselling? I pay my employees to work, not to chat."
And he doesn't need any new digital tools either: the e-mail distribution list is set up and, in an emergency, the SMS also arrives.
The fact that successful internal communication contributes to corporate success is not denied here. Rather, it is intended to add a decisive perspective to the treatise and provide arguments that the sceptic will find difficult to ignore.
Three examples on the way to the meta-level:
1. change management
Changes are inevitable for the success and continued existence of an organisation. In the age of digitalisation and Industry 4.0, changes in the IT landscape, for example, are almost a permanent fixture. The last prominent example with a lot of frustration and a slump in profits of around 30% was the introduction of Microsoft Dynamics at LiquiMoly in 2019. But mergers, takeovers, etc. also require professional communication support. Why? People's natures shy away from change; because to do so, they have to move out of their comfort zone. One method in change management is the training and use of ambassadors. They help to explain the change project, train new processes or software and convince recalcitrant parts of the workforce in the sense of the company management. Communication by means of suitable ambassadors is a decisive instrument for successful change.
2. employer branding
It is well known that the baby boomer generation is gradually reaching retirement age and that the battle for young talent has long been on. The Handelsblatt put the peak shortage of skilled workers in Germany at 3.6 million in 2031. Companies and the public sector are investing enormous sums in campaigns to strengthen their employer brands. In 2016, the German armed forces spent almost 8 million euros on the YouTube series "The Recruits" with accompanying advertising. But what is the decisive factor for the success or authenticity of these campaigns? Not the budget, but the company's own employees. Social media is a double-edged sword. On the outside, there's nothing good, but on the inside, there's nothing bad. Hypocritical campaigns are mercilessly punished by the social community - including members of the company in question. The key to successful recruiting is to win over your own employees as brand ambassadors.
3. crisis communication
As the saying goes: the question is not whether the crisis will hit a company, but when. Employees of an affected company have families, meet friends and acquaintances or are active in associations. Everywhere they are approached about unforeseen and publicity-sensitive events at their employer. The media also like to solicit statements from ordinary or technical employees during company crises. They simply enjoy a higher credibility than, for example, the CEO or the press spokesperson (Edelmann Trust Barometer). Crafty managers are aware of this and inform all employees quickly and comprehensively; ideally, first inform internally, then externally (ad hoc announcements according to §15 WpHG excepted). The following also applies in the supreme discipline of communication: those who win over their employees as advocates have a decisive strategic advantage.
Engaging employees as advocates - strategic internal communication
The three examples show how important it is for companies to win over their own employees as ambassadors or advocates. The pay slip makes only a small contribution to this. The sole argument, "I pay my people well", is a little too short-sighted. The lowest form of approval is acceptance. It is usually present with an employment relationship. Consequently, a company does not start from scratch in order to gain advocates in-house. Direct access to the target group also represents a decisive time and cost advantage. Companies that want to use this advantage would do well to communicate with their employees - honestly and continuously.
Seen from the meta-level, it becomes clear that internal communication is not just a tactical method to increase efficiency or to be transparent. Rather, successful employee communication is a strategic means to successfully master the challenges of our time.
What is the state of internal communication in your company? Test the status in your company with our quiz.