How Internal Communication can Reduce the Stress of Your Employees
Change within a company doesn’t simply mean the introduction of a new system or process. It often also includes a change in daily business for employees – and if the change isn’t communicated accordingly, it can cause stress or be demotivational for them. Especially in times that stress and insecurity has become normal in our daily life, this can reduce the productivity and will to cooperate. In extreme cases, extra stress and insecurity can even be the last drop causing a burnout. This is why internal communication and a healthy dialogue with your employees is more important than ever.
The past year has changed the world as we knew it. A worldwide pandemic created a new situation for all of us, and has shown how important internal communication is to keep a business running succesfully. Each state of the pandemic caused changes in daily business – first, we had to get used to working from home. Now, companies are developing plans on how to get employees back to the offices, at least for a certain number of days a week. It’s an uncertain time for everybody that has lead to a lot of additional stress amongst employees. Imagine there is a big change coming up within your company. It's just another factor of stress in the mix. High stress levels can lead to a decrease of motivation of employees or cause even more severe problems as burnout. But sometimes, change is necessary. And without knowing when the pandemic will eventually be over, there is no way of postponing every change project until then. This really only leaves you with one option: Communicating your change trajectory as good as possible to reduce stress for everybody involved. But how?
The Importance of Internal Communication
What can you do as an employer to reduce stress during change? The solution sounds very simple at first, but turns out to be some kind of rocket sience for many companies: Communication. Internal communication has more to it than putting a quick message on the intranet to inform employees. And that's where it often goes wrong. Especially when it comes to complex changes such as the introduction of a new software, you need to pay more attention to internal communication. Not only to reduce stress amongst your employees, but also for the change to actually succeed: After all, you need your employees to be using that software you are implementing efficiently. To increase the likelihood of succeeding, it's crucial to know your internal target group(s) and find out what kind of information they actually need. Some might wonder about the technical details, while others might ask for more background information about the decisions that have been made.
Why, What and How?
There are three questions you should always answer when communicating a change process. By giving your employees answers to the why, what and how behind the change process, you can guarantee that they have what they need to actually implement the change successfully. Think from their perspective and focus on their level of knowledge and motivation. It can be different per employee, even if they work in the same department. Therefore, working with internal target groups is crucial here.
At first, always explain the reasons behind the change process. Answer the 'why' question per target audience, explaining to them which advantages the change brings for them. Will they be able to work more efficiently when using the new software? Will they gain new insights they can use to optimise their work? Once you have made that clear, explain the 'what': What exactly is going to change? And what is expected from your employees during the change process? Last but not least, focus on the 'how': This is the technical explanation of what is going to happen. A step by step approach of the process, explaining in detail how the new software needs to be used or what the new process will look like.
By focussing on each target group and answering every one of the questions above for them, you can efficiently communicate your change process in a stressfree way. You bring your internal communication to the next level by sticking to the plan and providing the right information to the right people at the right moment.
When answering these questions for each target group during a change process, you increase the level of your internal communication significantly. By explaining everything the employees need to know and taking them along during the process, you reduce stress and insecurity. Which will lead to higher motivation and better results on the long term!
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