How to Draft a Staff Communication Plan
Internal communication is important in any business setting. It can spell the difference between an organization fulfilling its corporate goals, or the firm failing to achieve any of it. Communication within an office can affect employee participation, engagement, and productivity. When employees are kept in the loop by the management, the more involved they become in their respective assignments, increasing their productivity in the process.
In writing an internal communication plan, the corporate communications team should know its starting point, or where the company is now in terms of its communication with the employees. Corporate communications should ask questions like, why is there a need for a staff communication plan? Are the employees regularly receiving accurate information?
But there are times when recent events can trigger the need for a staff communication plan. These are events that can directly affect employees, such as downsizing, layoffs, and union strike. A new company policy may also prompt the corporate communications team to implement an internal communication campaign.
Situational analysis is simply getting into the heart of the issue. In this stage, the corporate communicators will have to examine the issues that will be addressed by the staff communication campaign. The team will then list the facts that support the issues (both positive and negative) and then the effects of the issues on the employees.
This activity should help the team get to the heart of the issue.
For instance, a merger between two companies can have negative effects such as low employee morale, high turnover, and redundancy of different functions. However, a merger can also have its positive effects like the merged company getting a greater market share.
After the issues and effects have been identified, the team can then determine the root cause. In this example, it may be that employees are thinking that the aggressive growth plan is threatening their job security.
Formulating Key Messages
Based on the situational analysis, the corporate communications team can formulate key messages which should be simple and easy for the employees to grasp and understand. About five key messages should be enough for the internal communication plan to stress—too many messages can cause a loss of focus.
In formulating the key messages, the team should also identify the target audience. While the staff communication plan is obviously targeted at the employees, the corporate communications team can still identify the audience depending on their profiles. Would the campaign address the concerns of employees who are in the head office, or those in the regional headquarters? Different tactics may be applied to address the target audience, although the key messages should still be related.
Then the team identifies the objectives, or the outcomes it expects from the conduct of the internal communications campaign. The outcomes should reflect the key messages earlier identified.
Going back to the example, the corporate communications team can cite that the campaign would promote an understanding of the merger among the employees, and communicate how the management plans to implement a valid and just redundancy program.
This is the stage where everything will be put together. Using the key messages and objectives, the team will identify the activities to make the plan work and to fulfill the goals of the campaign.
It is recommended to outline the tactics using a grid, where key concerns like the message, audience, form of delivery, and responsibility will be listed. Form of delivery pertains to the communication medium to be used (newsletters, meetings, interviews, etc) while responsibility pertains to the individual tapped to deliver the message (the chief executive officer or in some cases, the HR head).
Evaluation and assessment
This phase is critical in determining the success of the internal communication plan. Each tactic or implementation item must have a corresponding assessment tool.
While a communication program is usually considered non-quantifiable and hence difficult to measure, there are still several ways for a team to evaluate and assess the campaign that it had just completed.
One way to assess an internal communication plan is to conduct surveys. Employees may be asked on how well they understand the merger, and if they no longer fear about their job security after the conduct of the internal communication program.
Another way to gauge the success of the internal communication plan is to conduct a focus group discussion made up of 10-15 carefully selected participants. Or the team may go out and conduct interviews to the employees to learn what they think or feel.
This is basically how a team can go about in drafting a staff communication plan. While it may appear simple on the surface, the truth is that executing an internal communication plan is more complicated as it seems. Corporate communicators should ensure that the plan is implemented well so they can achieve their desired results.