Your internal communications play a powerful role in defining the relationship that you have with your employees. Every email that you send introduces employees to choices about how far they will trust your words and accept them.
The tone and style of our communications accumulate and help shape … or distort … the quality of the relationship between people and their employers. It follows that employees will read more carefully and weigh more heavily those communications that are more directly relevant to them.
If you can measure email opens or intranet hit counts, look at the items that get the highest attention. If your company is like most, the popular topics will be about benefits and compensation, specifically things like bonuses, open enrollment, paid holiday schedules, and wellness.
When we write clear and concise communications on these topics, they promote trust and clarity. Done poorly, they foster mistrust between the company and the people trying to make sense of communications that:
- Use jargon and read like the disclaimer of a corporate lawyer
- Are obscure, indirect or evasive about critical information and significant changes
- Make it harder for people to get straight answers to natural follow-up questions
- Discourage dialogue and feedback
There is a powerful competitive benefit in cultivating trust and engagement in the workplace. Although the advantage can be hard to quantify, the essence is whether employees trust what their companies tell them.
Benefits communications are some of the most personal that people will ever receive from their employers. If they find them to be evasive or unworthy of their trust on these topics, why would they trust the company on topics further removed from their immediate self-interest – the next customer satisfaction effort, reorganization or strategy rollout?
If nothing else, a trusting organization is more efficient. The amount of time that people spend testing or resisting corporate information will decrease if employees believe the message and can start acting upon it from the first or second time they hear it.
While your next big strategy rollout may be only a month away, the tone of your current open enrollment campaign may be setting the tone for its success or failure.
Grab that opportunity. Realize the strategic investment that these communications represent. Commit to clarity and to building trust in the communications that hit closest to home.