This blog post is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.
When internal communication is leveraged, it can elevate employees and help them thrive while driving business results. The optimal internal communication program does not simply provide free lunches or employee events; the needs of employees are more complex than that. To understand what motivates people at work, Harvard Business Review conducted a study to identify universal motivators in the workplace, which found that career, community, and cause are the three primary motivators.
Career is the idea that people want to work at a job that uses their strengths, where they feel a sense of mastery while also helping them learn and grow. The concept of community is the idea that people need to feel respected, recognized, and valued, while having a sense of belonging. Cause is the term used to capture the concept of purpose where people feel that they are having a meaningful impact and feel proud that their work does good.
In accordance with these findings, my agency Vision2Voice, a Canadian internal communications organization, developed a formula for excellent internal communication. The formula comprises three actions: inform, involve, inspire.
Business success depends on people who are knowledgeable and innovative. Internal communications can help organizations recognize the value of information and content, organizing and sharing it in a way that is clear, straightforward and easily accessible. This equips employees with the information they need to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.
In this formula, “involve” is all about breaking down barriers in organizations and supporting a culture of listening, psychological safety, and openness while also creating a feeling of belonging. Internal communications strategy should support employees’ ability to have a say in the organization. You can’t build a feedback culture if no one is willing to speak up, so it is important to clearly demonstrate that everyone’s voice is valued.
Internal communication can also support a sense of belonging and community by helping to promote understanding, diversity, and inclusion.
The “inspire” element of our formula is about connecting employees to a meaningful purpose – a purpose they can feel good about. Connecting employees to purpose motivates them to reach their full potential because it satisfies their need for cause. A clear purpose also creates alignment around priorities and rallies everyone around a common goal. To accomplish this, articulating an authentic purpose is critical. It starts with defining an organization’s meaningful purpose using compelling and concrete language. Then, internal communication strategy should focus on identifying opportunities to celebrate how the company is living its purpose through storytelling and other communications.
Andrea Greenhous is the founder and chief internal communication strategist at Vision2Voice Communications, a Canadian internal communications agency. She is the author of The Captain Wants to Waterski: Lessons in Creating Belonging, Engagement and Alignment in Your Organization.