How to Handle Internal Communication With a Young Staff
As an internal-communications (IC) specialist, I often feel like a salesperson, constantly promoting my methods for handling both formal and informal communications to my colleagues and staff. As any good salesperson can tell you, each target demographic requires a slightly different approach, but the task is ultimately to bring everyone together. Here, I´ll focus on how to handle younger generations.
Communications-wise, their needs are different than those of previous generations, and also more intensive. Dr. Kateryna Bondar, an operations partner at IAG Consulting, aptly describes today's incoming workforce as harboring a desire for job flexibility, challenging tasks and participation in key objectives. Which means that, from an HR or IC perspective, we need to work harder than ever to keep the modern office environment running smoothly.
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According to a report by global risk-management and advisory company Willis Tower Watson, companies with effective communication practices generate 47 percent higher total returns to shareholders compared to organizations with poor communication. And for smaller teams specifically, it can provide the energy boost that allows you to grow faster, do more and reach higher goals.
The first thing millenials in particular are looking for is an open company culture. This means less departmentalizing and more transparency. Growth marketer Sujan Patel has compiled a helpful list of companies who are doing this well, and as he says, “While the culture that works for one company might not work for another, you can learn a lot from companies who are doing it right and get started on company-culture hacks of your own.”
Bu before hacking, you always need to make sure the channels you use are oriented to two-way communication. One good way is by offering an open-reporting model that ensures managers know what employees are doing and employees can see what their managers are up to.
Also, now that everyone under 40 is on social media, it's important to take advantage of similar channels within your company as well. Let's face it: A company newsletter will get thrown in a young colleague's spam folder. A messenger chat or a slack-group conversation, conversely, draws a lot more attention.
The hardest part of all this is selling it to management. Unless you are a CEO yourself, you will meet some resistance. However, it is your job to innovate communications. You must stand firm and fight for what you believe in. In my own career, I've spoken with rising employees face-to-face, learned of their concerns and taken all of it into account when coming up with internal protocols. And after that, I've undertaken another round of conversations to sell everyone on my ideas. And whatever the circumstance, the main point remains: Listening to and understanding your young employees's needs is the fastest way to figure out what you need to offer them, and sharing your point of view is the best way to put a clear internal communication flow in place.