Efficient internal communication is closely related to employee’s engagement which in turn is key for high profitability. How to keep the staff’s interest alive and how to engage them in an on-going two-way interaction might be a challenge. Below are some suggestions how to freshen-up some of the notoriously most tedious company documents.
Code of conduct
This one can be as exciting as watching paint dry. But worry not, most of the companies have long and important documents and procedures that nobody has the time or the patience to read regardless of how crucial they might be. And that is a problem. Both for the employer and for the employees who might get into trouble without intending or knowing it. How to avoid that is not just a matter of employer branding or a fancy image. It is often a matter of compliance. How to make 10 000 employees go though, understand and remember most of this in order to know the key danger points and restrain from violating it?
One of the ways is a motiongraphic video. It allows you to squeeze in 3 to 4 minutes the most important (and potentially dangerous) aspects and to point towards additional information sources. The combination of voice over, text on screen and images allows you to convey more information in a short period of time.
A less dynamic but also very useful and easy to digest option is the animated PowerPoint. It usually requires a bit longer to fit the same amount of information but can also use voice over, animation, music and images and text on screen to make a good point. This is also the cheaper and faster option. A motiongraphic may take a month to produce while the animated PowerPoint video can be produced in 2 weeks.
Internal Newsletter / Magazine
When Heineken hired us to edit and design their internal magazine it was literally dying. The administrative software reported that employees were hardly spending 30 seconds on an issue. 6 months later this same time increased to 12 minutes!... How was that even possible. Well couple of things helped and we are happy to share them with you:
1. Enough preaching, getting straight to the point is so rare these days and so appreciated. We cut the materials by half not in terms of facts and information but in terms of formality and explanations.
2. Personal (but we mean really personal) interviews with interesting people from the company. Honest answers and a sneak peek into the everyday lives of real characters win the hearts.
3. Killing me softly … with overload of irrelevant information. We had to become the “no-bullshit police”. To communicate or not to communicate, that is the question. It’s important to know which information actually needs to be shared—as well as when and where it needs to go—and to filter it accordingly.
4. Don’t tell – show. We turned most of the articles into infographics or comixes or visual stories. And guess what – well everybody loves pictures so we won the attention war!
New employees’ induction manual
While we are heavily investing in employer branding and fighting for quality new employees, the process of welcoming them is Rare is the case of Valve whose induction manual became legendary. Employees from often cumbersome. all over the world were sharing it and talking about it over beer. But have faith – you can do well too. You just have to let go of the habit of taking yourself (your company) too seriously.
Don’t lecture them, entertain them. Let them believe they have landed in Wonderland or at least in something closer to their dreams than to their fears. Illustrate the most important things. Put pictures of the key places, events or even people. Tell them a story that you want them to tell back home and to their friends. Make them ambassadors, not bored to death and confused strangers to your otherwise nice team.
People following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations. (W. Howard Levie, Richard Lentz, Effects of text illustrations.) Just draw these things. And no, icon and text are not enough. Make people see the danger, see the precaution and remember to use it properly!
These can get dangerously slumberous. Especially at celebration events when a handful of managers decide to show (in charts of course!) the achievements through the year. Now is a good time to put some music and some color to this and make it way more exciting and inspiring. For KPMG we had to turn 5 years of presentations, reports and summaries into 1 (one) picture showing the progress they have made over these 5 years. We used a strong visual metaphor combining everything achieved in 3 key areas – people, projects and technologies into one building and proportionately to their growth – showed a second building high in the skies proving progress (see illustration) This infographic compressed over 120 slides and 50 pages into one singe visual metaphor.
Change management can make even the strongest of hearts pound and even the sharpest of minds – confused. How processes change, what merges and what takes over – it is a messy business. Infographics are one of the best ways to visualize these changes and make people less nervous. After the acquisition of Société Générale by OPT Bank we have been drawing lots of graphics explaining how the decision flow is changing and what are the steps that the restructuring will pass through. This is welcomed by employees on all levels and in both structures as it significantly reduces the stress of overwhelming long documents.
Of course, there are a lot more internal documents that need to be refreshed and brought back to live through visuals and more influential language. But these 6 a very strong start and will bring your dialogue with colleagues on a brand new and much more exciting level.