Your company’s internal communications process can make all the difference, especially in the business world rattled by COVID. But only if you share engaging content that employees want to consume.
To do that, use the wide variety of apps and free or paid online tools that your employees use in their private lives. Communicating becomes much easier, faster and more streamlined and helps build loyalty.
Think beyond text. Consider creating videos, info graphics, interactive newsletters, photos or podcasts.
Here are some highly-rated, free or inexpensive tools and apps to create content that your employees won’t want to miss. My Vistage members use many of them.
The Hemingway App: It color-codes lengthy, complex sentences and common errors, including the confusing “corporate speak” that poisons writing.
Canva: This online graphics design tool is perfect for people who aren’t graphic designers. Create logos, banners, flyers, posters and more. Includes stock photos for purchase and simple photo editing tools.
Staffbase: It offers one place to plan, create, send and measure your internal communication content.
Blink: This simple platform for frontline workers gives one-click access to everything your team needs – from updates to must-knows, forms to timetables, conversations to stories.
Connecteam: An employee communication app designed and built especially for the desk-less mobile employee, packed with tools that will help you improve your newsletters, announcements, chats, employee directory, updates, surveys, suggestion box and more.
RedFlag: Real-time emergency communication system and alert software for groups of all sizes. An easy way to distribute critical information using email alerts, text messages, voice calls, intranet, signage and Microsoft Teams notifications.
Slack: Stay on the same page and make decisions faster by bringing all your work communication into one place. It’s a great way to stay connected without clogging up everyone’s email inboxes.
Milwaukee Vistage member Ward Alles, president of Core Creative, a marketing and branding firm, loves Slack.
“We have created about three dozen different channels to keep our more than 70 employees connected and informed on a variety of topics,” he said. “Folks are notified up to the minute when new content has been posted to their subscribed channels. Slack is used for individual or group chats.”
Don’t forget face-to-face meetings
Alles has optional, one-on-one coffee meetings with his employees once or twice a year. At least half of them sign up. The meetings are conducted on Slack, in person at the company’s downtown office, or at a local coffee shop.
The employee sets the agenda, which can include business and personal topics.
“To encourage conversation, I like to start by asking a random question like: ‘If you had to change one thing about your in-home office setup, what would it be?’” Alles said. “I’ve had employees share a lot of personal and important news with me over the years, which I wouldn’t have known otherwise, and I always feel more connected to our team as a result. I’ve been told that our employees appreciate this personal outreach as well, and have encouraged me to keep this tradition going.”
Use social media, too
Rick Moon, president of Lunar Communications, a PR and writing services firm in Brookfield, relies heavily on social media.
“Use company social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to recognize employees for a variety of events and accomplishments,” he said. “Keep posts brief, and always include an image of the employees being spotlighted.”
Post work anniversaries, awards won, significant projects completed, certifications earned and educational degrees. Also, post items involving groups of employees such as company outings, picnics or any event that’s done as a “thank you” for their efforts.
“If possible, include the company president or CEO in the images, whether it’s with one employee or a group – this demonstrates their commitment to acknowledging the people who make the organization successful,” Moon said. “Always tag the employees in the posts, and use congratulatory hashtags.”
He also recommends that when you write press releases about employees, add the releases to the company blog or “News” section on your website and in your newsletter. It’s another way of demonstrating how proud you are of your employees – and validating them even further.