“Courage, innovation and discipline help drive company performance, especially in tough economic times. Effective internal communications can keep employees engaged in the business and help companies retain key talent, provide consistent value to customers and deliver superior financial performance to shareholders.”

– Harvard Business Review

I’m a passionate believer that people are the heart of what makes a company great. When people are engaged and inspired, cultures thrive, businesses grow, and economies succeed. And today, as the “Great Resignation” morphs into the “Great Exhaustion,” the importance of internal communications and effective employee engagement has been magnified. 

Against this landscape, a comprehensive and future-focused internal communications strategy is essential to cultivate psychological safety, keep staff informed, give employees a voice, strengthen collaboration, co-create new ways of working, and foster a greater sense of excitement, loyalty and identification with the mission and purpose of the organization. 

This is especially vital in large-scale, confidential, contentious or sensitive situations. Whether you’re navigating a crisis, leadership transition or organizational transformation, these nine steps can help strengthen employee engagement.  

  1. Develop succinct positioning that clearly articulates what’s being announced. This includes developing detailed talking points, FAQ documents, email language and interactive training and practice sessions so spokespeople are speaking from a consistent, united front.
  2. Deliver a clear, crisp and consistent message. Articulate the business decision, impact and value to ensure that your audience understands the overarching benefits to them/their role or services and how the announcement aligns with the company’s long-term vision and growth strategy.
  3. Share potential outcomes and scenarios of the future of the organization (what the experience will look like going forward at the company), so audiences can visualize and understand how the news could materialize over the long term. This helps prevent uncertainty, confusion and skepticism.
  4. Provide context and framing for the message so it is relevant for the audience. This strategy prevents people from creating their own frames and stories, which ultimately increases the risk of misalignment, confusion and unease. When people create thoughts in their own head, false messages spread.
  5. Reiterate the critical importance of confidentiality. Failing to do so could have harmful repercussions for employees, clients and community partners.
  6. Don’t make promises, guarantees or claims you can’t validate. Be mindful of language. If you can’t prove or promise something, be careful not to claim it. 
  7. Listen, engage and connect in an authentic way. Create an open, two-way forum where everyone’s perspectives, ideas and concerns are valued, respected and considered.
  8. Present an inspiring vision for the future direction of the organization. Instill confidence, reassurance and hope that you’ll lead the way to a promising place while building a better tomorrow for people, clients and communities. Remember that as leaders, it’s important to guide your team through uncharted waters and reassure employees that the company’s values and ethical standards are stronger than ever. 
  9. Infuse an element of fun in culture-related employee communications. Aspire to provide a dynamic, diverse and adaptable environment where everyone is inspired to bring their whole selves to work every day. From employee appreciation events to a culture committee, employee of the month recognition and incentives for milestones/anniversaries, you can ensure that praises are consistently sung for a job well done.

Above all, put people, heart and humanity first. With this mindset, leaders can empower their people with the tools needed to thrive in this rapidly evolving business climate.