The way a company designs and lives its internal communication and collaboration says a lot about its corporate culture. Companies in traditional industries are often organized in a decentralized manner compared to those in young industries - such as start-ups. The flow of information and communication is often restricted and one-sided. In addition, they tend to focus more on minimizing risk and less on maximizing innovation. As a rule, they still rely on traditional communication channels. These include bulletin boards, e-mails or analog in-house mail. Even though this used to be common practice and some company bosses still cling to it: The days of the traditional top-down culture are numbered. Flat hierarchies, mutual feedback, a bottom-up culture and employee participation have long been at the forefront of internal corporate communications trends. Transparency and openness as well as identification with the company are the most important goals today.
Looking at the results of recent studies, things are not looking good for workforce satisfaction
According to Gallup (2018), 70 percent in the DACH region are merely doing their job by the book, 15 percent have quit internally, and 51 percent are even actively looking for work. This is a situation that costs companies dearly: employees with little commitment and a high willingness to change cost the German economy up to 105 billion euros annually. And costs do not just arise when an employee leaves. A study by the Scientific Institute of the AOK (Badura et al. 2016) found that 27.5 percent of employees who rate their corporate culture negatively rate their health as "not good." In the comparison group with a positively experienced corporate culture, the figure is only 8.9 percent. Absenteeism of more than 15 days also occurs primarily where employees rate the corporate culture negatively. At the top of the list of factors that positively influence corporate culture is modern internal communication with a healthy communication climate.
Central employee platform as a success factor
Modernizing outdated classic internal communication does not require a novel coaching method or successful management consulting. The key to success lies in digitizing internal communication and collaboration with the help of a central employee platform and also integrating mobile employees on production floors, in hotels or on sales floors with the help of an employee app. Such a digital solution integrates all company-wide communication channels into a secure employee platform that can be accessed from both desktop and mobile devices. The result is a more productive and efficient workforce.
Lower costs, happier employees
Today's technology capabilities offer easy-to-implement solutions for future-proof and strategic internal communications that engage all employees, including those who are not at a fixed PC workstation - the sales associate in retail, the EMT in the emergency vehicle, the maid and cook in the international hotel chain as well as the machine and plant operator in the manufacturing plant or the subway driver. There are very many companies where more than 50 percent of employees are not connected via email or other digital communication channels. More than 1.7 billion commercial and often mobile employees without office workstations worldwide are not connected or are poorly connected today - that's 80 percent of all employees.
Positive impact on operational processes
A digital communications platform offers opportunities for digitization and automation within the enterprise, creating new opportunities for operational processes as well. It can change internal communication away from the single-track top-down communication that was common in the past to interpersonal exchange communication and process-accompanying operational communication. In the process, information must also flow from the bottom up, across departments, and diagonally into different teams.
At the top of the communication pyramid is top-down communication, the official communication via company magazines, internal newsletters or intranet from days long gone. At this level, the company communicates its strategies and goals. On the intermediate level is management communication, which connects locations and teams. This is where campaign coordination and local crisis management take place, among other things, and where important updates are communicated. The actual work is coordinated at this level, such as shift scheduling. At the bottom of the pyramid, 1:1 chats and group chats, including shift swaps, mission briefings and work handoffs, take place. This is where teams address operational challenges. Interpersonal exchange communication thus takes place in the lower two levels of the communication pyramid and, when it works well, has a direct impact on employee efficiency. For this to succeed, it is crucial that as many employees as possible abandon previous channels such as Whatsapp with colleagues and superiors and use the central solution for all company-related communication. After all, if all internal communication runs via one platform, this is much more effective and secure than if many different tools are in use. Acceptance increases if the company provides internal communications support for the introduction of the digital communications platform from the outset - ideally as early as the planning phase - involves employees in the process and makes it clear to them what added value the new tool will bring them, for example in the area of operational processes.
Dialog-based communication with employees outside the office as well
Employers also pursue the goal with digitized processes of enabling dialog-based communication with their employees outside the office. Otherwise, employees would have little opportunity to use digitization to make their day-to-day work more efficient, for example, to optimize processes. The bulletin board as the epitome of operational internal communication illustrates the change: For many decades, companies pinned shift schedules or other important information in paper form to permanently installed bulletin boards. The employer had to rely on all employees regularly passing by the bulletin board and taking note of the posted information. Precious working time was thus lost and reactions were largely absent. Bulletin boards were also often used to access operational procedures such as forms, checklists, surveys, or shift and duty schedules. A company that now relies on a digital solution for internal communication and collaboration enables all employees to communicate with each other in real time, regardless of their location. If there is a change in the shift schedule, for example, it can be accessed within a very short time using an app on the smartphone. For the bulletin board, the change would first have to be printed and posted - and might no longer be up-to-date after just a few hours.
In the end, employees and employers benefit equally from a switch to a centralized digital platform
Good internal corporate communications involves all employees without exception, informs them equally, creates opportunities for interaction and collaboration, and prevents breaks in communication between office and non-office employees. Positive effects result on the one hand from the fact that mobile employees can also participate equally in all processes in the area of communication and collaboration. In addition, such a digital communication solution also brings benefits for office employees: Fewer e-mails and faster communication save time and nerves. And finally, everyone without exception benefits from a location-independent exchange of information - including colleagues in the increasingly popular home office, to whom the communication problems of mobile employees can largely be transferred.