The most successful businesses are those with the most open employee communications. Simon Ward explains how you can strengthen staff engagement and morale as your business grows through a comprehensive internal comms strategy.
It’s good to talk
A flat hierarchy with good communication across the organisation is easy to manage when you’re a small company. And it’s desirable. Morale and work output suffer when you feel you’re being treated like a mushroom.
The difficulty comes when your organisation grows. As you increase in size – and expand across various sites – regular on-site team meetings become unwieldy and impractical. It’s easy for operations to silo and people to become blinkered to what’s happening outside their immediate environment.
We’ve grown from a few dozen people five years ago to over 550 people now. A lot of this expansion has been in the past two years, and it was clear the existing internal comms strategy would soon become woefully inadequate.
We’ve found there isn’t one single way of cultivating engagement and ensuring knowledge is shared: we have to use multiple channels to ensure no-one is missed. There are the obvious, of course: social media team pages where account members share ideas that motivate others; various cross-site social and sporting activities, which help to break down silos.
But we’ve also recently introduced the idea of largescreen videoconferencing across the entire organisation, where everyone can question me directly about the direction the company and put forward suggestions.
We’ve also launched a rewards portal that features benefits and more light-hearted communicatons about the business (two-thirds of employees signed up on the first day). We also join schemes that enable employees from different departments to spend a day on joint charity projects.
I’m also told we’re about to run an inter-site Mario Kart tournament over the net.
The ideal is that the employee-run channels inspire constant willing engagement, but peaks and troughs are inevitable. Therefore, the channels have to be managed. We’ve recently expanded our comms team, and they work very closely with HR to ensure that all activity is working to inform and inspire those about areas of the company they’re not directly involved in.
As we continue to grow, the challenge will only become greater. But the key is never to let up and ensure internal comms remains a constant priority.”
Until next time
About Simon Ward
Simon Ward ITG – Simon is the founder and CEO of pioneering technology-led marketing company, Inspired Thinking Group (ITG). ITG delivers best-in-class marketing software, procurement and studio services to dozens of blue-chip clients, including Audi, M&S, KFC, PUMA and Heineken.
Simon Ward SP Group – Prior to ITG, Simon founded SP Digital in 1998, and in 1999 bought SP Print to form SP Group, creating innovative marketing and point of sale displays for some of the world’s best-known retailers, including M&S, Sainsbury’s, Holland & Barrett and Calvin Klein.