If Employees ran IC, Here are 5 Things They’d Change Immediately

Alison Davis

Here’s a scary scenario: Late one afternoon, employees get so sick of the current state of internal communication—too much information overload, corporate speak and irrelevant content—that they stage an insurrection. Armed with pitchforks and singing, “We Shall Overcome,” an angry band of employees marches down to the IC department and takes over the function.

Now that employees are in charge, what will they change?

While an insurrection like this is very unlikely, many employees are quietly dissatisfied with the current state of most IC programs.

We communicators design our systems to meet the needs of our “clients” (mostly executives). But what if we created communication that is truly “customer” (employee) centric? The answer is clear: communication that’s more compelling and effective.

How would we start? By gathering employees’ ideas about the best ways to improve IC. My firm has done just that—asking more than 19,000 employees at a number of companies this question:

“If you could change one thing about employee communication, what would it be?”

This question is so valuable because employees have great suggestions for what we should improve. Here are five key things they would change:

1. Create more relevant and useful content

Employees feel that the balance of information IC provides is out of whack—too much is general and doesn’t answer these essential questions: “What does this mean to me?” and “What do I need to do with this?” Employees say:

  • “Provide more details about changes that affect me directly.”

  • “More local information.”

  • “I get too much corporate information, but we don’t know what’s going on in our own building.”

  • “Have more frequent updates on things affecting my position and my group.”

2. Simplify

Sure, your organization is complex, but employees know that doesn’t mean communication has to be. They want IC to manage leaders and subject matter experts who feel the need to explain everything in painful detail. And employees want you to be much more of a curator than an aggregator—instead of tossing everything at employees, select which information is important. Employees say:

  • “Much less! There is so much that I can’t read most of it. I’m concerned I miss things that are actually important.”

  • “Make communications concise, so I can read them quickly.”

  • “Simpler, more digestible.”

3. Make communication more convenient

IC is really good at providing a banquet of channels and content to employees. But these days, what busy employees really want is the communication equivalent of a to-go cup: something that’s small, portable, snackable and doesn’t take too much time. Employees say:

  • “Make it easier to find links and information on the intranet. I waste a lot of time looking for things.”

  • “Reduce the number of communication vehicles. Gets to be information overload. Main messages become lost or blurred.”

  • “Organize all communications in one place so people know where to look for an event or subject.”

4. Bring tools up to date