The Importance of Treating Employees Like Customers When Building Communication Plans

November 3, 2017

With engaged employees, satisfaction flows outward to customers

When your employee engagement is high, your customers will also be engaged. Satisfied employees work harder and reflect the organisation’s values more effectively than disengaged workers. So if you want delighted, loyal customers, start on the inside by building an engaged workforce. Treat employees like valued customers, and keep this value in mind whenever you develop internal communication plans for employees.

Communication is critical in a tough job market

It is a difficult job market for employers. There are a lot of positions to fill and not enough qualified candidates to fill them. Turnover and recruiting are expensive. To remain competitive, employers are focusing on employee engagement and satisfaction.

The failure to treat employees like customers in your communications can really undermine your efforts at engagement and retention. Employees need to see that the outward face of your organisation matches its internal character.

Use an authentic voice and craft an engaging message when you build your communication plan. What you say to employees should not be in conflict with what you say to customers or the public at large. If your organisation appears hypocritical or inauthentic, social media will amplify that, possibly to the detriment of your brand. The public simply won’t support a company with a reputation for treating its employees poorly.

3 tips for building a solid employee communication plan

  1. Involve the leadership team. To build an effective communication plan, you need leadership’s buy in. Executives have strategic goals in mind and your plan and messaging should adhere to strategic goals.
  2. Multiple departments should participate. Although HR is often responsible for employee communications, it shouldn’t be the only voice in the room. You also need input from marketing and public relations so that your organisation’s internal and external messages will remain consistent. You should also gather employee feedback during your planning process.
  3. Use a test group. If you are getting ready to send a big communication, test it with a focus group first to measure effectiveness. Include representatives from as many teams, groups or departments as possible. This can help you get the message and voice right.

Focus on the positive to increase engagement

To create a communications plan that increases employee engagement, focus on positive messages. Again, it’s helpful to think of employees as internal customers; you wouldn’t build up a customer relationship by pointing out their character flaws or demoralising them. It’s the same with employees.

People need to be recognised and there should be more celebration within your organisation. No one has ever claimed to be over appreciated by their employer!

Make sure there is a balanced communication programme in place to celebrate successes, achievements, and gather employee feedback—all with a positive message.

How to tell when internal communications do not measure up

When customers are disappointed with your organisation, they take their business elsewhere. Likewise, the most reliable indication that you’re not treating employees like customers will show up as employee turnover. Be sure that your exit interviews are capturing enough information for you to identify trends driving turnover.

Be proactive. Regular engagement surveys might help you identify sources of employee discontent before turnover spikes. Employees are usually honest on engagement surveys, as long as they believe the surveys are anonymous.

Another possible indicator of a flawed internal communication plan is dropping productivity—especially if it occurs in certain groups. This could be a sign of a team leader who isn’t delivering employee communications correctly and needs additional training. Training is an essential part of employee communications.

Get external advice when you need it

Communications plans are the basis for managing your organisation’s brand, so it is very important to get it right. Sometimes an outside employee communications expert can be helpful. Consultants give experienced, impartial feedback about the positive and negative aspects of your organisation’s previous communications. They will also recommend best practises to help you deliver effective employee communications and help you build a strategic plan for managing your employer brand.