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A key trend that all internal communication pro’s need to focus on…

20th November 2015

 
We all know that ‘the workplace’ is going through substantial widespread change. There are a number of trends driving this change; digital and new technologies, remote/mobile working, and the differing attitudes (towards work) of the new demographics (e.g millennials) entering the workplace, being the most notable.
 
All of the above trends are therefore impacting upon the internal communications function. However, there is another trend that we’d like to touch upon in this post, which we believe all organisations – and specifically internal communicators – need to treat with the utmost of importance:
 
PURPOSE.
 
Quite simply, purpose is becoming the most important factor for employees – particularly so for millennials.
 
– Purpose is what attracts millennials to an organisation – it’s becoming the main reason why millennials choose to work at one company over another.
 
– Purpose is what engages employees at work – both the ‘bigger purpose’ of the organisation, and also an employees ‘individual purpose’. A sense of purpose (especially one of ‘doing good’) is highly engaging.
 
Furthermore, research from Yale University found that ‘purpose-orientated’ workers are overall:
 
– Better at their jobs
– Stay at an organisation for a longer period of time
– Healthier and happier at work, due to being satisfied with their job
– Experience strong career progression – find themselves in top leadership positions.
 
The above is no great surprise, given that we now know purpose is closely linked to engagement. Clearly:
 

Purpose-orientated workers are the employees that all organisations want

 
 
 

The role Internal Communicators need to play in regards to ‘purpose’.

 
 

1. Be closer connected to the external comms function

 
The best brands have realised the importance of communicating purpose. Although, focus has predominantly been veered towards external audiences.
 
However, there is now a blurring of lines between internal and external communications, and this should be especially so when it comes to communicating purpose.
 
It’s puzzling when companies instead focus on trying to communicate their purpose to customers first, without having established this purpose internally. For an organisations purpose to be believable, it must be authentic, and to achieve this, purpose must be understood and believed by all employees first. It is therefore up to internal communicators to be sure each employee is clear on the purpose that the company stands for – that being not what the organisation does, but why they do it.
 
Internal communications should help to build the platform, on which external communications can build on. Organisations need to understand that the days of hiding all internal communications are well and truly over. Any internal message can get out at any time. And when an external audience, sees internal communications, which don’t align with the external communications, brand damage occurs, as purpose is not seen as being authentic. Similarly, when employees see the external communications that don’t align with their experience of the organisation they become disengaged, as to them the purpose is not authentic too.
 
Simply put, internal communicators need to work far more closely with their external communication counterparts, especially when it comes to communicating purpose. Only then will compelling external communications, and engaging internal communications be achieved.
 
 
 

Employee advocacy

Employee advocacy is a whole other subject in itself, and something we have discussed in more detail in other posts, such as in this one here. Therefore we wont go into too much detail here, other than to touch on a point we made in the previous section – authenticity.
 
There is one voice of an organisation that everyone regards as being the most authentic and believable – the voice of an employee. Therefore internal communicators need to identify the employees who hold an influence both inside and outside the workplace, and then engage with them in order to amplify influential communications.
 
Communications based on purpose, which come from influential employees, are very powerful.
 
As well as identifying employees who hold influence in and outside of the workplace. Organisations should perhaps also be looking for employees who have purpose inside and outside of the workplace. It is the latter that has led to a few pioneers to question the role of employment surveys. Intrigued? Well then, you better read on…
 
 
 

Employee surveys

Traditional employee engagement surveys have for a long time been used to identify the issues employees deem to be detrimental to engagement. It’s now time employee surveys were implemented to identify the people who are intrinsically motivated to find purpose in their work. From these workers, organisations need to understand exactly what it is that is motivating and engaging them.
 
From the findings, organisations will have a better understanding of not only how to communicate with ‘purpose-orientated’ employees, but also how to help shape and turn all employees into those who are ‘purpose orientated’. Additionally, this understanding can help organisations with the recruitment of ‘purpose-orientated’ employees.
 
This thinking has led to the creation of forward thinking tools such as Imperative. Worth having a look at – once you’ve finished reading this post though, obviously.
 
 
 

To conclude…

Hopefully the above has made it clear that the goal of all organisations should be to make sure that one day all of their employee’s work with purpose.
 
It will be the responsibility of internal communicators to continually communicate an authentic sense of purpose to employees. This will not only help to motivate and engage employees, but will also be the communications that find there way outside of the organisation into the consumer world, and if via employees (employee advocacy) all the more powerful will the communications be.
 
If you would like any help with your purposeful internal communications, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
 
Until next time…
 
Rima
 
 

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