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Internal communications is going to be, to some degree, the next battleground for companies, because people are getting fatigue from doing so many virtual meetings, from separation from their classmates, colleagues, teammates, factorymates, customers, students, partners, or whoever it may be. Internal communications is an issue that business leaders now have to tackle full on, because maintaining morale is as big a part of the communications team’s work as external communications. There’s a transition from it being considered the preserve of HR to being the area where communications specialists will come into play, because internal communications is not a policy issue necessarily, nor a compliance issue, but a corporate culture issue. It’s going to be a function of the company’s story being told, the narrative being led by the founders, the management team, and the collective consciousness, and all that is going to be shared online now. It’s no longer going to be the case where the building, the facilities, and so on give the entire story and the support to the brand, and so businesses need to find other ways to engage with their team, so that when they’re not with their colleagues, people still understand, believe, and want to deliver their very best for the company.
The old water cooler and games rooms didn’t really have policies. They were not platforms either. They were rooms with facilities that were really only relevant to those who were present. These rooms were dark and dead unless there were people in them. But the great thing about social media platforms is that people can participate anytime in any place. What’s exciting about the way technology is moving, and there are 8,000 different martech platforms, a few of which are dedicated internal communications platforms using some of the same technologies of mobile and Wi-Fi that enable companies to have their own internal conversations.
On a platform like WeChat, there are three different types of accounts one can have: for external, for enterprises, and for internal, where both members and the holder of the account can receive invitations and be accepted into a community. In the West, there are a large number of tools and platforms that can be used, some of which are adaptations to the main platforms, like Facebook Corporate where we can have a Facebook group with a closed discussion. There are newsletters or platforms like MailChimp or SurveyMonkey, video platforms like VideoAsk or Boomerang, and conferencing systems like Microsoft Teams. But there are also some dedicated platforms for internal communications which have, by their very structure, recognised that there’s a different relationship between the organisation and the people that are being invited to participate with the app. These collaboration and employee engagement tools are really powerful, and these are going to really move in, because as people shift from the general meeting platforms of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts, or the productivity platforms of Slack and Asana, they’re not dealing with some of the fundamental points which take place in effectively HR and employee engagement, which are to do with recognition, rewards, policy, and restricted access.
One platform that can be of help is Connecteam, which was founded in 2014 by Amir Nehemia who is from Tel Aviv, Israel, and it’s listed on the website as based in New York. Nehemia says, "We’re on a mission to provide managers of all business types and sizes with the tools they need to communicate, operate, engage, and run their deskless workforce." He recognises that the lines are officially blurred. It’s not really internal or external in terms of location anymore. It’s all frictionless communication with people who come together and work with, in this case, deskless workforces. They’ve just launched an app, which enables organisations to create their own branded organizational smartphone app. With that, they can do scheduling and so on.
Connecteam has got some case studies on their website. One is St. John’s, the medical assistance nonprofit, which has operations in 40 countries. Connecteam is used by St. John’s to track its members with its GPS tracking feature. Volunteer networks are working with paid teams, so it’s this blended organisation which needs special demarcation between different groups. It’s also got the ability to create different groups for adults and children separately, which is useful in this case for St. John’s, because they’re communicating with volunteers and employees using the same branded platform but with different sections of the content gated. It’s all mobile, and users can also log on with geofencing. It’s called logging on in local timezones.
Another interesting thing is that they’re using the platform to onboard new volunteers. It’s becoming a crossover from the website where people sign up to being the onboarding platform for the St. John’s volunteers. The brand experience and the public relations that someone might have seen and read about wanting to take part with St. John’s needs to be seamless because, otherwise, they have one experience from the external public relations and another experience with the internal communications platform. But using a platform like Connecteam, they’re able to have an integrated and seamless flow. They offer a free time tracking employee engagement chat and employee directory enterprise app. And for $29 with the Basic package, you can have 200 users with time tracking and employee engagement, scheduling, workflow, chat updates. They even have suggestion boxes, events, surveys, and quizzes. One problem of using a platform like Microsoft Teams for meetings is that people are fielding questions at the wrong time at the wrong event. If there isn’t a forum for employees to file their issues that they’re facing, they will be raised at the next available opportunity, which might be a strategy meeting. So, Connecteam enables companies to collate information in the way they might have done around the factory.
Connecteam offers an Advanced package for $59 a month for organizations, and then it has features like live polls, anonymous surveys, triple time clocks, which enables people to log onto different time zones and track their time, as well as track where people are and communicate with them. One of the benefits of this is crisis management, where if there is an issue in a different timezone, information is released at the right time for the people that are living in that timezone. This way, Connecteam enables people to manage the ongoing content and discussion.
Mo.Work is a company that has understood and put into place the concept that recognition is one of the main drivers along with interest in work. They’ve realised that when people start to believe in the brand and the story, they become the best recruiters possible, and so they build on this, because recognition is one of the most important drivers for people to feel a sense of belonging and support. Mo.Work is a platform which embeds peer recognition, and that’s very forward-thinking. Businesses are understanding that when people are at a site, they might really be out of mind, So the old "well done" when you see someone do something may now become completely invisible, especially for those members of a team that either may be not so vociferous, may not be so outspoken, or may not have a high profile job. At Mo.Work, they are creating moments which bring people closer together at work by using a platform which mirrors some of the social interactions that take place at work.
A study by Gallup suggests that 85% of the world’s global population is not engaged at work, and that can only be getting worse when people are getting "zoomed out," and they may well zone out as a result. What the people at Mo.Work do is they allow employees to give each other recognition and create things like contests inside the organisation. They use the term "moments." They find ways to create quality and frequent moments of interaction between members of the workforce, so they’re better able to understand one another and truly connect. It’s similar to an end of month meeting, a party, some kind of a review, or an informal conversation which takes place on a daily basis, especially through a line manager and a member of staff. Mo.Work has put this in as a structure and as a system. You can see the conversation, but you can also have staff gifts, like vouchers to one another. You can allocate budgets for people to give free coffees, or coupons for food, flowers, and other benefits, movies and so on. Through this combination of recognition and rewards, they create reviews which enables one to track the values of the company through the behavior of the people inside the company. Needless to say that this is automated. It is an enabler with some measure of AI, but it’s very much focused on the human interaction, and it enables organisations to truly appreciate the culture within their own organisation and monitor it over time. This is important, because anyone that’s in charge of internal communications is going to need to know what kind of sentiment is within the organisation when a new message is going to be delivered. Mo.Work works with clients including the NHS, William Hill, and AEG, so although it’s a young company, their philosophy and their tool sets have already found some some great homes.
Sentiment analysis is what is done on external communications to see what people are saying about a product or a service, and the engagement and the pass along are just as valid, if not more so, on the internal audience. In the SPEAK|pr program, there are three different audience groups: the internal, the partners, and the external. A lot of attention is paid to the external, because that’s where people believe sales come from. But if you have an organszation which is not energised, well organised, and engaged, then you could be bringing potential partners or customers to the organization, but losing the sale anyway.
As people are on back-to-back Zoom calls with barely enough time to have a break in between, eventually, people are going to get tired, and they’re going to need to be able to find ways to say that without it seeming as though they’re complaining. It’s only by engaging with teams that people become aware of the value of the work being done together, especially as much of the world is working deskless and remotely, whether with permanent or impermanent members, paid employees, or volunteers. Luckily, there are tools like Connecteam and Mo.Work represent dedicated platforms for internal communications. And so, for business owners, it’s worth thinking about creating special tools for the special people who help us run the business.
Cover Photo from Mo.Work