That’s worrisome because employees can be your best brand ambassadors. In the age of influencer marketing, social listening and viral videos, it can be easy to overlook the potential for your employees to act as an extension of your brand. If you’ve effectively and fully communicated your company’s values, mission, vision and message, keep employees up-to-date on company news and are transparent in the company’s successes, employees can become some of your brand’s most powerful activists.
The importance of scaling
Internal communications is just like every other aspect of a company: It needs to scale in tandem with the business. Internal communication may seem easy when you’re bootstrapping it as a startup with seven employees and can call a staff meeting you can hold from the two couches in your headquarters. But two years, three new office openings, five product launches and 100 new hires later, you’re going to have a hard time communicating your message if you assume what worked before will work now. In place of the impromptu company-wide meeting should be monthly newsletters outlining upcoming announcements, scheduled offsites where folks can grab a cold beer and hang out away from the workspace and town halls where executives can communicate their strategy and message to the entire staff. You have to find new and creative ways to keep employees engaged while also recognizing that those strategies need to be adaptable as your company grows.
Some things, however, can stay the same. If you have a fun, interesting new hire program, don’t let it change for the worse as you grow. Q2 Holdings—the Austin-based digital banking provider with which Red Fan has worked for the past four years—has scaled at a rate of 30 percent year-over-year. Yet its executives still find the time to snag breakfast with the company’s new employees, who also participate in a scavenger hunt to encourage them to meet their new colleagues in various departments.
The importance of transparency
Executives at businesses of all sizes should be transparent about what’s happening at the company: customer wins, product launches, new hires, even failures, whatever the case may be. A top-down communications strategy that emphasizes transparency will increase engagement at all levels. Your employees will feel valued and informed, arming them with the knowledge and empowerment to effectively relay your message to prospective clients, potential new hires and the all-important “Facebook bump.” You’ll know you’ve achieved that buy-in when, on a Monday morning when a few employees are gathering around the coffee pot before starting their day, they’re discussing your recent “Letter from the CEO” before recapping yesterday’s football game.
The importance of follow-through
Few things are more vexing to employees than a perception that they are not being heard, that their concerns are not being addressed and that they don’t feel valued. That’s why it’s crucial that executives, HR reps and others responsible for company culture and communications regularly solicit feedback from employees. This can take the form of surveys, polls or town halls where executives field questions from employees. These types of tools engender a sense of both community and value to employees, from senior leadership all the way down to interns. Providing a forum in which employees can levy concerns, questions and even praise—and properly addressing those concerns, not just talking about them—will help employees feel like they are contributing to the success and well-being of the company beyond just their typical work functions.
You may have questions about what information you should be sharing with employees, how transparent you want to be and what kind of message you want your employees to hear from the C-suite. If you have those questions, shoot us a note or check our Red Fan founder Kathleen Lucente’s recent musings on the topic in our #AskKathleen vlog series.