Communicating change to employees is one of the most critical uses of internal communications. Employee interest in company news is perhaps at its peak during times of organizational change. It’s a time when we can truly serve employees by providing clear, accurate information about whatever change is afoot, and thereby reduce a little of the stress connected to the change.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself, as you’re framing the change communications:
Has leadership established an organizational vision? If they have, and employees are aware of it, your job will be much easier. That vision can help anchor employees in times of change and reassure them that the change is part of a larger strategic plan. (Find ideas for channels to communicate that leadership vision here.)
Does this change relate back to that vision? Any time you’re communicating change to employees, it helps tremendously to tie the change back to the vision. That helps employees understand that it’s not a knee-jerk or reactive change, but one that supports the collective vision.
What’s the business benefit of the change? Again, it’s reassuring to employees to connect the change to some positive outcome for the company. You want them to say, “Oh, that makes sense. I see why that change is necessary.”
What’s the bad news for employees? You need to have a clear understanding of how the change will impact various segments of your employee population, and address that head on. Don’t try to sugar coat it or spin it or put off communicating the news. Tribe’s national research with employees of large companies indicates that employees want to know as soon as possible — especially if it’s bad news.
Is there anything about the change that will be good news for employees? Beyond an organizational change being good for the business, look for some positive outcome that will benefit employees directly. If nothing else, you can link a healthier company to a more secure employment environment down the road. Communicating the nuts and bolts of the change is important, but we also need to link it to human outcomes. (For more on the human element of change, see this Deloitte article.)
Interesting in doing a better job of communicating change to employees? Tribe can help.