“When leaders look at their reputation, traditionally the focus has been communicating outside the organization. Now, more leaders are getting the importance of communicating internally.” That’s a quote from Jackie King, national practice leader for Change & Internal Communications at Hill+Knowlton Strategies, in an interview published at Financial Post.
King relates a quote from The Economist, “Employees are becoming the unattended guardians of the brand.” So as your employees interact and engage with others (outside the office), they carry with them the reputation of your brand. This means that the better informed they are, the more effective they can serve the role of “brand guardian.”
In addition, I’d argue that the better informed they are, the more satisfied they’ll be with their jobs. And that means more productive employees. So now, let’s discuss five reasons an online platform can be effective for your internal communications.
1) Lower Costs
It used to be that remote office workers had to be flown in to headquarters for your internal meetings. Flights, lodging and local transportation had to be arranged for tens, if not hundreds or thousands of employees. With an online platform, all of that complex logistical planning goes away. Instead, employees join the meeting with the click of a mouse. Additionally, presenters (e.g. busy executives) can remain in their office, avoiding costly “out of office” time.
2) Increased Engagement Within the Meeting
Consider the conventional approach to CEO presentations: employees sit through a 30-60 minute segment and are invited to ask questions at the conclusion. There may be a total window of 10 minutes to get your question in, at which point you have to be one of the lucky “hand raisers” to be called upon. You also have 10+ team members who declined to raise their hand because they didn’t want ask the question in front of the entire company.
When you host your internal communications online, the entire audience can actively engage and provide feedback as the presentation unfolds. They can provide comments in the group chat area and respond to polling questions from the CEO. Questions can be submitted in real-time, rather than at the conclusion of the CEO’s talk. You’ll also find that those who were reluctant to raise their hand (earlier) are completely comfortable providing their feedback online.
Additionally, executives can review all of the submitted questions and select the most relevant ones to answer. And that’s much more efficient than selecting a raised hand (in the audience) and hoping the question is meaningful.
3) More Measurable and Trackable
Conventional meetings might be judged on the intensity of the applause, the post-meeting comments from employees or perhaps a survey that you ask employees to fill out. With an online meeting, the success measures lie within the data. With a wealth of online metrics, you can analyze attendance rates, visits, webcast viewers, polling responses, chat messages, chat volume, document downloads and more.
In addition, you can standardize on a specific metrics that’s used to measure one meeting to the next. And, the data helps inform you about topics and tactics that can make your next internal meeting even better.
4) Convenient for Hosting Ad-Hoc Meetings
Let’s say there’s a big announcement to be made. Perhaps you’ve just acquired a closely held social networking start-up. Instead of sending out a fairly impersonal company-wide email, your CEO can invite the entire company to join a live webcast within your internal communications platform.
There, she can provide the exciting news to the entire company (at once) and take questions from the crowd. And because you can create (and attend) the online meeting with a few mouse clicks, they’re perfectly suited for this ad-hoc meeting scenario.
5) With Mobile, You Can Reach Everyone at Once
Online platforms support mobile devices, including apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. This allows you to reach your organization wherever they happen to be. Remember that important CEO announcement? Now, employees who happen to be out of the office can still tune in to the exciting news from their mobile device. Your employees are not only up to date on important information, they’re well informed in real-time.
While corporate leaders will always want to connect and engage with employees face to face, there are many benefits to hosting internal communications online. You can lower costs, while increasing engagement and measurability. You can arrange ad hoc meetings (for special occasions) and reach your entire organization globally, whether they’re at their desk or not.What’s stopping you from hosting your internal communications online?
Post contributed by Dennis Shiao