We're living in a time when the word "revolution" is appended to so many business and social activities that one could be forgiven for tuning out.
Internal Employee Communication is currently undergoing its own revolution and is deserving of promotion and analysis. Why? because like all revolutions, it is changing the way we do things and will positively impact many people's working lives.
Social business software, deployed as a Social Intranet or Enterprise Social Network is driving this revolution by shattering the "Cascade of Information" paradigm. This software is providing management a powerful channel to communicate with employees that have historically been isolated from the company and their co-workers.
White-collar knowledge workers may not raise an eyebrow; they've been sending targeted emails or posting messages on their intranet for many years. We are however, talking about industries with non-office and dispersed employees; industries such as retail, franchise, hospitality, construction, transport, security, mining, maintenance, etc. Companies operating in these industries seldom provide employees with email, access to the intranet or other secure information systems.
Until now, Internal Communication in these companies has been delivered via payslips, posters, magazines and most frequently via word of mouth. Known as 'The Cascade of Information', this internal communication term refers to when a message originates from management and then works its way down the communication chain until it finally reaches employees on the shop floor.
The obvious problem with the Cascade of Information is that the message arriving at its final destination will most certainly be different to the original version. As the message is passed down the chain, it's adapted, re-interpreted and reformed with a political bias (as seen in unionised workforces).
Furthermore, it is seldom that these messages reach their intended recipients and if they do, management lack transparency as to who has actually received the message. The end result is that limited information is communicated down the chain (why would you send a message that may be modified and/or never reach the recipient?).
Enterprise social software changes this paradigm by enabling direct communication between management and ex-communicated employees within industries that have never had access to effective internal communication systems.
Direct communication with employees leads to exponential benefits such as increased employee productivity, retention and health and safety while reducing costs associated with on-boarding, training, compliance and litigation.
It has been proven that internal employee communication is the cornerstone for effective Employee Engagement because employees become deeply connected with the business and management.
Aligning employees to marketing messages: large companies with thousands of dispersed employees add significant value when positive word of mouth activity is aligned to above and below the line marketing campaigns. Employees that re-in force marketing messages amongst their family and friends add political, community and business value to their employer brands.
Training and safety information: Within many non-office based industries, safety is an absolute priority. Management are eager to share safety training methods and rapidly disseminate important safety information to employees as quickly and efficiently as possible. Transparent and efficient communication assists to reduce the number of safety incidents as well as the liability and litigation associated with safety breaches.
Video messages from Senior Management: During times of change or uncertainty, senior management are looking to stabilise employee sentiment and reduce concerns. Direct communication is a powerful tool within unionised workforces as management are able to broadcast important messages instead of going through union channels.
Sharing wins and motivating employees: Further to alleviating concerns during times of change, senior management are keen to share wins and success stories across the company. Video footage, photos, PDF files etc are often circulated highlighting great achievements amongst teams and individuals.
Obtaining Employee Feedback: Annual surveys are difficult and expensive to administer in dispersed workforces. With a connected workforce, companies are obtaining ongoing employee feedback and better understanding the pulse of their company.
As of today, industries that have historically neglected their diverse workforces now have access to the tools that would allow them to change their paradigm, open new opportunities for business growth and improve the working lives of their employees. And that is pretty revolutionary.