By ICT associate Verity Cash
Workplace continues to make waves in UK companies, with businesses big and small signing up to the platform because of it’s cost effective pricing structure and ease of installation.
The beauty of Workplace is the speed at which you can get started; with minimal support required from Facebook, a collaborative team of Comms, HR and IT can launch Workplace easily in six weeks. The intuitive nature of the platform means that the majority of your colleagues will have some level of understanding of Facebook and therefore need little or no training to get started.
Workplace have a fantastic resource of materials to support a launch including comms plans and checklists, posters and handouts even those infamous Facebook emojis ready to print out and stick around the building.
So far, so good, but here’s some additional things to consider for a successful Workplace launch;
1. Sense check your company culture
You’re probably launching Workplace to help build a more open and collaborative culture. It’s worth doing your homework with team leaders around the organisation to see how they will operate Workplace.
Workers in call centres, distribution centres or factories may have less access to your social network during office hours, and it may even be frowned upon to be seen on the internet. How will you support team leaders to create an adult to adult culture which allows them to check in to the Workplace platform as and when they need to?
2. Consider colleague mental health needs
You may find that colleagues or team leaders volunteer the information that they or a colleague is anxious or nervous about social media coming into the workplace. Or you may need to open up conversation on this topic to ensure colleagues with concerns can voice them, before the launch.
Can you incorporate social media thoughts into your mental health at work programme? Do you need to give mental health advisors specialist training?
3. Are there any ethical or moral objections from employees?
It’s likely you could come across a minority of employees who voice ethical or moral concerns to a Facebook product. As in life, some people actively choose not to sign up to Facebook personally to express a moralistic point of view.
This has the potential to be a highly sensitive issue and it’s advisable to tackle this early on with your leadership team to decide your company approach. Is it mandatory for employees to use Workplace? If not, where else will those employees be able to receive information and take part in conversation?
4. Train and guide your leadership team (no matter what they say)
Workplace is the ideal place to help up your leadership team’s visibility. Think of it as a virtual ‘floor walk’. Have an idea of what role you’d like your CEO to play on Workplace. How will your Finance Director communicate those milestone corporate moments? How can you unlock the passion of the Customer Services team via your Customer Services Director?
Be prescriptive for launch. Ensure your leaders’ profiles are complete, they have some content uploaded and they are assigned to their respective teams/departments. Keep checked in with them for the first month of launch to ensure they are able to see the benefits to their teams and for them to flag any concerns to you.
5. But, don’t be too prescriptive for everyone else
Set up everyone’s profiles before launch day, consider holding a photo day to enable people to get a profile photo they’re happy with, set up teams and social groups (perhaps you have some lunchtime clubs) and assign owners to get content up and running. And then stop.
As a communications professional, there’s a temptation to create endless content. Workplace works really well when everyone is involved, sets up their own groups and initiates their own chats. Try to sit back and watch to see which teams/individuals have embraced the channel and who needs a little more help. Then get ready to jump in with support – and maybe some content ideas too.
See our view on Workplace as a platform here
We’ve all heard horror stories of poorly managed change communications – our LinkedIn campaign reflects just some of the real-life examples that have been shared with us. The typical score for agreeing with the statement ‘Changes are communicated effectively’ in our internal communications review surveys is around 30%.
Change is a fact of life for most organisations and effective change communication is one of the skills our clients often approach us for. Whether it’s an office move, relocation, redundancies or business acquisition, major change is often difficult. We take pride in supporting clients to communicate change effectively and with integrity and believe there are a few things you can do to improve the experience for your employees and your organisation. Here are our top 5…..
1. Put yourself in your employees’ shoes
Showing respect doesn’t need to be onerous and is vital to your reputation as a good employer. It’s not just about those leaving or moving, but those left behind. At every step of the project, take a moment to reflect: how will it feel to employees? Good principles include briefing people face to face and at a reasonable time of day. And don’t forget part-time colleagues and those on maternity leave, long term sick or secondment.
Now is a great time to brush up on the Change Curve, which recognises quite simply that employees will go through a range of emotions and need different types of communication at different times. If in doubt, keep it human, honest and adult to adult.
2. Agree your approach
There are a few ways to communicate change, but here at the Internal Comms Team we often recommend a cascade approach i.e. starting with senior leaders, then line managers and then employees. This enables your managers to play a key role as communicators and equips them to support their teams through the change. They can also help you to gauge emerging themes and colleague sentiment. If your line managers are also impacted, you may need to give them extra support in this role. Last but not least, communicate to the wider organisation – in our internal communications reviews employees often tell us that ‘secondary’ audiences are forgotten.
3. Develop good stakeholder relationships
You’ll need to work hand-in-hand with HR to understand how people are being impacted, what the process is and what support materials they will need. You may well also be relying on business leads for subject expertise so it pays to have great working relationships. While we’re on the topic, invest a little time in connecting with EAs and PAs too…they have the senior team’s ear and you may well be calling in favours closer to delivery date!
4. Prep leaders to own the message
If one leader explains there are cost cuts while another points to changing skills requirements, the message will very quickly unravel. Whatever your organisation’s reasons for change, be clear, be consistent and ensure the leadership team are fully aligned behind the message. Finally, while it might feel like a great time to cancel all senior diary commitments and run for the hills, this is exactly the time to maintain good visibility and dialogue.
5. Plan, plan…and plan some more
At the outset, check your planned dates for communicating don’t clash with other activity. There’s nothing worse than announcing redundancies hot on the heels of a Values campaign. For the announcements themselves, you’ll need designated owners for every element of the plan, from setting up room bookings to monitoring comments on your intranet/enterprise social network. Have backup plans, too. What if there’s a leak in the press? What happens if that super important HR system crashes with all of your key materials? What if the briefing invitations don’t reach the intended people? How smoothly things run on the day will depend on the time you put in…the devil really is in the detail.
For change communications resource and advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us on on 0117 971 4423 / email our MD firstname.lastname@example.org
We normally get asked to help a business with their internal comms when they know from employee feedback – or just instinctively feel – that communications aren’t working well, but they’re not sure how to fix it and want an independent, expert view. Sometimes it’s because they’re embarking on a new strategy or transformation programme and they know their internal comms aren’t fit for purpose. Whatever your reason for doing it, a new strategy driven by a review can make a real difference to your organisation, helping to drive engagement and business performance.
When did you or your organisation last take a step back from delivering your day to day communications programme to ask yourself ‘Is our internal communication strategy still right for the business? Are our channels as effective as they could be? Does our internal comms team have the right structure and the right skills?
With our experience of delivering reviews for clients across different sectors over the last 13 years, we’re proud that improvements we put in place following reviews are often still in place years later. So here are some top tips for reviewing your internal comms strategy and delivery:
TELL EVERYONE YOU’RE DOING IT
Organisations we work with are often reluctant to make a big noise upfront about reviews, preferring to keep it low key. This is understandable if they’re not sure about the outcome but we encourage making it high profile. This in itself is open and transparent and you can stress that you’ll be engaging people around the business in the review to ensure that the new strategy works for them and meets their needs. What’s more powerful than saying ‘we know we need to do better with communications, we’re reviewing how we do it and it’ll be your views that help drive the improvements we make’?
ASK YOUR LEADERSHIP TEAM
To ensure your strategy is commercial and focused on enabling the business to deliver its strategy and priorities, seek 1-1 sessions with key members of your leadership team and ask them about the business and the key messages you need to engage people in – what’s the story for your organisation? Plus what are they looking for from internal comms? It’s also a great way to see how aligned your leadership team are on the priorities for the business!
GATHER SOME DATA
Many organisations now do regular employee engagement surveys, and these usually have communications questions. But they tend to be quite high level. If that’s the case with your existing data we recommend digging beneath the surface to find out what people think about communication channels, leadership visibility etc. and also to understand their preferences. And make sure you have at least one ‘free text’ question where they can provide general comments on communications – this will give you key themes and some great quotes to use to bring employee sentiment on comms to life. When you present back to your leadership team the data and quotes will be invaluable and help you tell a compelling story.
GET INPUT FACE TO FACE
You can come up with a brilliant strategy, but if it doesn’t meet the needs of your people it won’t work for the business. I love this bit – there’s nothing like hearing from people directly with their views on communications and it’s a great opportunity to investigate the survey results if you’ve done one. It’s obviously not practical to involve everyone in the organisation so do a few workshops with representative groups of your people. Do at least one manager / leader group if you can so you can understand whether they feel they have the tools and support they need to engage their teams. And if you have an existing employee consultation forum, or brand ambassadors group, gate crash one of their meetings – they’ve usually got lots to say!
COMPARE WITH BEST PRACTICE
It’s healthy to compare your organisation with best practice elsewhere if you can. There’s a wealth of information on the web on internal comms best practice, and of course engaging an agency to support the review means you get the benefit of their experience, work with other clients and their independent view (which can be valuable when presenting the outcome of the review to senior stakeholders.) We have a model of ‘what good looks like’ developed over more than ten years and we use this as a benchmark in our reviews.
YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS: TELL THEM A STORY
We always try and tell a story with our review reports to engage stakeholders, with a natural flow – this is what your people told us, this is what you said you wanted from comms, these are our conclusions and therefore here is the proposed new strategy, and an implementation plan for the next 12 months.
Following this flow will illustrate that your new strategy is based on a thorough, logical process which has involved people at all levels and enabled you to make robust recommendations for the new strategy which will make a real difference.
SHOW SOME INTENT WITH A QUICK WIN
As well as communicating the outcome of the review – and thanking everyone for their input – we’re big fans of getting a quick win or two delivered to set down a marker, showing that their feedback has resulted in some action (a rare thing in some organisations!). The higher profile the better – whether it’s a new channel, changes to your face to face programme – anything is a visible improvement.