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Why you need to create a new paradigm for your internal comms - plus tips on how to do it

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by Startacus Admin


Rob Edmonds, Founder and Creative Director at NRG Digital, shares his advice and tips on how to adapt your internal comms to keep your team engaged

With your startup’s team working from home they may be feeling isolated. Team members only see you, and each other, on a screen, and the impact of these feelings of isolation are evidenced by the increasing levels of mental health issues, presenteeism and absenteeism. Your internal comms activity is a vital part of ensuring your teams stay engaged and stay productive.

Absenteeism and Presenteeism 

pexels-photo-380769Absenteeism is people not showing up for work, but what about presenteeism? The latter has become a much bigger issue  since the start of the pandemic. Presenteeism is the loss of productivity that takes place when people turn up for work, but don’t get very much done. This is not something a startup can afford.

Presenteeism costs businesses far more than absenteeism and is largely un-trackable.

How can your internal comms help?

Internal comms is all about communicating your company values, vision, objectives and goals to your internal teams. The engagement between your business and your staff impacts the resultant productivity of your staff. Which is why it is so important to get it right. If you haven’t yet reviewed your internal comms strategy and processes, now is the time to start. 

Beginning the process 

When starting to make changes to your internal comms, what do you need to do? These are our recommended steps:

1.Measure how you’re currently performing

You cannot set new goals without knowing how you are currently performing. Measures need to look at both the end results and at the tools being used.

  • Productivity: is this where you want it to be, and has it changed since the beginning of 2020?

  • Absenteeism: is the business still within acceptable levels? Has it changed in the last year?

  • Understanding: how many of your teams understand the vision, values and goals of the business?

2. Setting new goals

pexels-photo-845451With a largely remote workforce, your internal communications goals may need to change. A, hopefully, short-term strategy may need to take precedence over the longer-term strategy, which can then be revisited once “normality” returns with the majority of people vaccinated against Covid. 

SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed) goals to be considered include:

  • Engagement with messaging tools – email, video, intranet content

  • Informal communication levels, both quality and quantity

  • Productivity levels

  • Absenteeism

  • Customer satisfaction levels

And many more that will be specific to your organisation.

3. Deciding on the messaging

What do you want startup’s team members to do, to think and to believe? Some messages may stay the same as those you are currently using (unless  you’ve pivoted dramatically), but many will change. 

Any marketing campaign, whether internal or external, is about getting people to believe and to act; that’s why the messages are so important. Testing specific messages on small groups is recommended. 

4. Developing the new plan

photo-1588873281272-14886ba1f737The implementation of a new comms plan aimed at ensuring your teams, wherever they are, are always engaged, will involve people from every part of the business. 

For a new internal communications paradigm to work, you have to prove you know your colleagues. Getting them involved is a crucial part of ensuring that the new plan will deliver for both the company and for the teams. After all, without the teams, there is no company!

Right now, it isn’t possible to gather people in the same room, but, hopefully, that shouldn’t be too far away. Tools such as Zoom, Teams or even vWall allow you to gather people and ideas together.

5. Getting your team’s buy-in

Having people from across the company involved in the development of the plan should mean they buy into it. They’ve had the opportunity to contribute, to discuss, to challenge and to come to an agreement with a plan they all believe will work. Now “all you need” is management buy-in.

Management is always eager to achieve the goals that help them to achieve the business plan. So, ensure that, when presenting the plan, it is all about how this will help with the business’ goals. Be specific; outline the problem and its impact and then show how the new plan will address that problem and reduce or eliminate its impact. 

6. Using multi-channels

pexels-photo-3727511 Multi-channel communications programmes are always more effective than single-channel programmes. 

  • Video: takes time to script, film, edit and sign-off. Current restrictions may mean talking heads are easier to do.

  • Print: has to designed, printed and distributed so it is in place at the right time.

  • Email: drafting and agreeing content and supporting imagery takes time.

These are just some examples. The key here is time. Time to develop and produce the collateral needs to be built into the schedule to ensure that the messages are delivered when they are needed.

7. Getting going

The sooner the plan is started, the sooner you will start to see results. 

8. Measuring and adapting

As with any internal communications marketing plan, you have to measure frequently to ascertain whether it is achieving its goals. 

You need to allow time for change to take place, without leaving it too long. If aspects of the plan aren’t working, you need to know soon, so adaptations can be made.

With the country in some form of lockdown for some time yet, you have time to develop and implement a plan to ensure the team, whether remote or on-site, are always engaged. But the sooner you start, the sooner you will see results. 

Some changes will be easy to spot. Email open rates, video views – both are immediately visible. Improvements in customer satisfaction or productivity will take longer to identify, so don’t expect miracles.

Finally, remember that this pandemic isn’t going to last forever and improve engagement now will continue to work when more people are back at their desks. The communication channels may have to adapt over time and the messages will adapt, but the business improvements will serve your startup well.


Robert Edmonds.Rob Edmonds is Founder and Creative Director at NRG Digital, a visual communications agency with a passion for all things creative. Their clients treat them as a strategic partner, creating authentic content that inspires audiences and elevates brands. Formed in 2002, the team has grown significantly, winning an Institute of Internal Communication (IoIC) award for Best Change/Transformation Communication in 2020. NRG Digital works across the UK, Europe and the US, supporting clients with their internal and external communications campaigns.

Twitter: @NRG_Digital

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Published on: 18th February 2021

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