Transparency a key factor in high impact internal comms

A new client recently asked me to present a virtual workshop on internal communications to its comms team. In preparing my presentation, I came up with five characteristics of what I believe constitute a high impact (high quality) internal communications program.

I was delighted to read the new issue of American Banker magazine (April 2021), which validated one of the characteristics I came up with: transparency.

The issue includes an article by Miriam Cross about the best financial technology firms to work for. The story highlights how a company called IntraFi distributes a weekly report to all employees. The report includes project updates from all departments.

Even if some employees only read the executive summary, “sometimes just knowing you are in the loop is comforting enough,” Cross quotes IntraFi CEO Mark Jacobsen.

The competition for top notch talent is fierce in the financial technology industry. The differences between a good and a bad place to work can have a big impact, Cross writes.

“Transparency is one of those differences,” Cross says.

I agree. Regardless of which industry or employer we’re talking about (except, of course, for the CIA), transparency is so important to establishing employee trust, engaging employees and keeping them loyal and motivated.

There are some instances, however, where transparency is not possible. For example, if rumors start swirling about two publicly traded firms planning to merge, transparency is not legal. It can lead to stock runs and possible jail time for those who leak such news.

The same is true of quarterly/annual earnings of publicly traded companies. The earnings results can’t be leaked ahead of time, even by a firm that views itself as 100 percent transparent.

Some Other Characteristics

Two other characteristics of a high impact employee communications program are:

  • The communication content is tied to — and supports — the employer’s mission, goals, values and culture. It emphasizes and helps explain the direction the employer is taking.
  • WIIFE (what’s in it for the employees). Whenever appropriate, news distributed through internal communications channels should lead with the benefit the employees will derive from the announcement. For example, an increase in annual earnings is of less interest to employees than the fact that it will result in higher salaries. So lead with the salary news first.

Want to learn the two other characteristics of a high impact, high quality internal communications program? Contact me for more information about my availability and workshop rates.

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