Internal communications helps
shape the employee experience
At Tribe, we believe internal communications are just as important as a brand’s external marketing to customers and clients. That’s because the employee audience is charged with delivering on the brand promise. They’re the people who create the products and deliver the services that generate revenue for the company. Employees are the ones who create the customer experience — and internal communications help shape the employee experience.
The story of the employee experience is told by the employer brand
Why do employees choose to work at your company instead of anywhere else? What sort of people thrive in your organization? What makes them excited to get to work in the morning? The employer brand promises employees and job candidates a certain employee experience — an experience that will appeal to the people who are a true fit at your company. It provides a unifying thread that runs through all your internal communications.
It also should work to unify all the different segments of your employer audience. For instance, this employer brand for La-Z-Boy successfully speaks to three distinct groups: manufacturing employees, retail associates and the corporate workforce. The rallying cry of Build Something Amazing is meaningful, whether you’re building a recliner or sofa, sales relationships or custom room designs — or business strategies and vendor partnerships.
Your employer brand differentiates your company in the job market
There’s no right or wrong in an employer brand. One might promise fast growth and the chance to innovate on the front lines. Another might promise stability and work-life balance. And still another might be about making the world a better place. Each of those employer brands will appeal to different kinds of employees.
The goal is to articulate an employer brand that’s true and authentic. It should capture what’s unique about working at your company. Instead of appealing to everyone, your employer brand is about attracting the right employees for your culture.
The employer brand can also help reposition your company in the job market. For instance, U.S. Steel may not be the first place engineering graduates think of for a job — but the company offers some surprisingly forward-thinking technology roles.
But the employer brand isn’t just for recruiting. The La-Z-Boy employer brand, for instance, was used in internal communications across all channels, from the intranet to employee swag giveaways, and on topics ranging from business strategy to recognition to training and development.
Sometimes we want the employer brand to do two things: build pride in meaningful work and emphasize how employees are rewarded for that work. At Wawa, a servant-leadership culture celebrates frontline employees and the customer experience they deliver. The WE OWN IT employer brand speaks to employee accountability for the customer experience, but also to their employee stock ownership program, in which they literally own part of the company.
A great starting place for internal communications
The employer brand is a common entry point for Tribe, as building that brand identity is a strong foundation for all your internal communications. The process of developing the employer brand also includes discovery work, such as stakeholder conversations and employee focus groups or surveys, that quickly get us up to speed on the nuances of your culture.
But we meet clients wherever they need us, be it an audit of their entire internal communications universe or a tactical creative project they needed yesterday.
Using internal communications to unite employees around a shared vision
Another area of internal communications that’s a frequent starting place with new clients is leadership’s vision. When we can help employees understand how their individual job roles support the success of that vision, we can align their efforts and help create more meaningful work.
The vision of the Ford Foundation, for instance, is to create social equity — in other words, to disrupt social inequality. This vision book helped communicate how employees in all areas of the organization contribute to that vision, from field positions around the world to IT people in the corporate offices.
The eyeglasses on the cover are a nod to the thick frames worn by Ford Foundation president Darren Walker.
Values guide employees in achieving that vision
If the vision is where an organization is heading, the values are how they’ll get there. When values are woven into all your internal communications, as well as performance management and recognition programs, they can become integral to your culture. They help guide employees’ decision making and day-to-day actions. It’s impossible to train employees how to react to every single possible challenge or issue, but if the values have become second-nature, employees will feel more confident making a decision and moving forward.
For instance, employees in NAPA’s thousands of free-standing auto parts stores can be trained on the half-million different parts they sell — but there are an infinite number of potential customer requests and issues. Values that are expressed in simple, actionable language help them react appropriately to whatever situation arises.
Change is hard. We can help make it a little easier.
In Tribe’s research with employees of large companies nationwide, we received a clear message from respondents. They want their company leadership to communicate what’s changing and when — especially if the change is a negative one. Over 84% of those surveyed said change was communicated poorly in their organization.
This Best Practices one pager above outlines some of the most common mistakes we see in internal communications around change. To reduce employee stress in times of major change, we recommend clear and timely communication of what’s changing, the business reasons why, how it will impact employees, and why the company will be in a better place after the change.
We also recommend providing employees with an easily accessible source of information, whether that’s a page on your intranet or a free-standing microsite or some other internal communications channel that can be updated easily as new information becomes available.
We once worked with a new CEO of an established business who was replacing his entire executive leadership team and completely restructuring the company. Only he and his CHRO were aware of this upcoming sea change.
They enlisted Tribe to very quickly stand up a microsite that would give employees transparent communication about everything from the timeline of what would happen when to the org chart to bios of each new executive team member, added to the site as they were hired.
The site gave employees a survey link to vent anonymously about anything that worried them, and an FAQ page that included a long list of sensitive topics. The CEO offered to answer absolutely any questions from employees, and to publish his responses on this site.
Why do you need agency help with internal communications?
Tribe works with many clients who have a large internal communications department of smart people. Sometimes they hire us for things they could probably do themselves, if only their desks weren’t already overflowing with projects needing their attention.
Other times we’re hired for the outsider’s view we’re able to provide. After working in internal communications for more than a hundred global and national brands, we can quickly recognize what’s unique about your culture — which is something that can be difficult to differentiate for those on the inside. Whatever your communications challenge, we’ve likely seen it before. What varies from client to client is the culture. Actually, that’s what keeps the work interesting for us.
How do you choose an internal communications agency?
We’re certainly biased, but there are a handful of important elements Tribe brings to the table that other internal communications agencies may not. We’ve been working with large companies on internal communications for over 20 years — and have focused exclusively on internal comms for well over a decade. That gives us experience that other agencies may lack.
Here are some other advantages to working with Tribe:
- Intelligent strategy plus great creative work
- Agency principals working on your business
- Responsive and agile
- Not selling a specific technology or platform
- Familiarity with ways to reach the non-desk audience
- Awareness of hybrid challenges to employee engagement
- Full-service shop, from strategy to creative production
Think you might need an internal communications agency?
We’d be happy to talk about your internal communications challenges. Please contact Steve Baskin, President and Chief Strategy Officer, at (404) 256-5858 or [email protected]. You can reach Elizabeth Baskin, CEO and Executive Creative Director, at [email protected]