The power of Internal Communications
Internal communications is essentially all about influence – it’s about influencing and engaging your employees so they feel connected to your organisation’s vision and committed to playing their part to bring it to life. It’s one of those unique disciplines that impacts an organisation’s culture, employee engagement levels, productivity and business performance. The internal communications specialist is responsible for developing a communications strategy to help organisations keep their people informed, connected and engaged. The strategy needs to translate the organisation’s overall vision, strategy and goals into a set of communications objectives. All communications initiatives and practices in the organisation then must align to these communications objectives and ultimately work together to help the business achieve their overall vision.
Employee engagement improves business performance
Time and again research shows that effective internal communications within an organisation has a direct impact on business performance. Statistics reveal that high levels of employee engagement improves productivity, innovation, customer satisfaction and business profitability. Gallup research has shown that organisations with engaged employees are 21% more profitable, while the Harvard Business Review states that highly engaged organisations have double the rate of success compared to lower engaged organisations. The research also shows that “Engaged employees are more present and productive; they are more attuned to the needs of customers; and they are more observant of processes, standards and systems.”
In one particular study, engaged teams demonstrated: 41% reduction in absenteeism; 17% increase in productivity; 59% less turnover in low-turnover organisations, 24% less turnover in high-turnover organisations; 10% increase in customer ratings; and 20% increase in sales.
The cost of disengagement
On the flip side, disengaged employees cost their organisations significantly more over the long term. A report by the Engagement Institute details what employees need in order to feel engaged (compelling missions, trusted relationships, well-designed jobs were at the top of the list) and found that the financial implication of failing to deliver on these imperatives were very real.
The study was called the DNA of Engagement: How Organisations Can Foster Employee Ownership of Engagement. It was performed in 2017 by The Engagement Institute, which represents a collaboration of various firms, including The Conference Board, Sirota-Mercer and Deloitte. The study gathered responses from 1,500 participants from U.S. businesses and the results were daunting. The study estimated that disengaged employees cost businesses somewhere between $450 and $550 billion a year. Fortunately, there lies some hope within other insights gleaned from the data. Specifically, 95% of respondents recognised when they were becoming disengaged.
The fact that most employees know when they are becoming disengaged is an important observation. It means they can alert their employer of their sense of disengagement and their employer can do something about it. For this reason, we recommend conducting employee engagement surveys on a regular basis. When you ask the right questions, you will be able to identify communication deficiencies and roadblocks that are dragging down morale and leading employees on the path to disengagement. You can then use this information to take intentional steps forward to make a positive difference in your workplace.