Now more than ever, technology is at the heart of employee experience. Frank Wolf believes it’s time to take it to the next level.
For many of us, while there seems to be endless opportunities to connect with our people in new, dynamic ways, digital communication is not where it should be inside our organisations.
In episode 36 of The Internal Comms Podcast, Frank, who is author of Social Intranet and co-founder of Staffbase, helps demystify tech and offers some sound advice during an enlightening chat with Katie.
He spells out the importance of getting a handle on tech, how to make a business case and the value of internal branding.
#1 Taking our cue from external apps and social platforms
“We are amazed by how apps and platforms understand our personal needs. They suggest – ‘if you had this, maybe you want to buy this’. That’s what creates relevance for a user. And that, after all, is the big thing everyone is looking for, because that’s what ultimately also keeps users coming back and really creates the business impact of an intranet.”
#2 Be where your users are
“The big danger that you have as an internal comms professional today, is to end up with a single purpose news app, just for your news. And everything else that employees care about happens somewhere else, which makes it very easy for employees to ignore your news, right?
“You want to be where the party is. In the party, everyone is standing in the kitchen so as a communicator, you want to be in the kitchen too with your channel.”
#3 Build an internal news brand
“Brands take away complexity. It’s the same if you have an internal brand that you’ve built up over the years. The big, big question that a lot of employees ask today, with a lot of the things that they see is, is this official? Who said this? Can I trust this?
“People are confused. Your goal, with the more platforms you have, should be to a create a clear internal brand. And that was pretty clear, like 10 years ago, if you have an intranet it should have a name. If you had a printed newspaper, it should have a name. We think you need this name today more than ever, especially as you publish your content across platforms. Employees can see this. They recognise the brand and have trust in the brand and say ‘Okay, I know that’s official’.”
#4 Make technology your business
“Care about technology – it’s the key delivery vehicle for what you do. We’ve seen during COVID-19, the communicators that had the technology in place could really focus on their work, they could focus on the feedback. Those who didn’t have tech in place spent 50, 60 70% of their time figuring something out, bringing together channels, and so on. That’s also important because a lot of the technology discussion comes from an IT department in terms of, ‘Hey, we have this tool, maybe we can use this for that’
“You should know what they are talking about, you should take your time to test tools, understand what’s going on, it will become more and more part of your job. You don’t need to be a technical expert, you just should know the tools and the pros and cons.”
#5 Why COVID makes the perfect business case for an employee app
“I would say COVID-19 is the biggest business case. I think it has to be the standard of every contingency plan to say we have a reliable working communications channel to all employees, period. So that’s, for me, already the business case. That’s it done.
“If for any reason that’s not the case, I would say the best business cases always find a way to link to a strategy to current transformation, and to the pain points of the company.
“I believe comms is in a position today to influence behaviour of employees, and to also impact employee experience. And there’s a whole different field to measure employee experience. You have pulse survey tools, employee survey tools, and they are surprisingly disconnected from communications, from the intranet. We need to connect the dots between measurement of engagement and what we actually do in communications.”
#6 Tools for comms
“It’s time for intranets to be a comms tool and be a communications platform. What excites me is that hopefully we’ll get in a position where comms gets tools and platforms that are just built for them. It’s the time for comms.
“There’s so many ways to make communications more personal, and really be there in moments that matter for employees. And that’s way beyond what a blog and other things can do today.”