The Hidden Role Internal Communications Plays in Employee Experience

By James Scott, CEO at Thrive

As you’ve scrambled to respond to the pandemic at your organisation, have you given much thought as to what the employee experience has been? And whether or not it’s improved, remained the same, or actually worsened?

COVID-19 has raised many concerns about our workplaces, from safety to technology to whether or not a business continuity plan was in place. It’s caused every department to rethink what they do, how they do it, and whether or not they can adapt to an increasingly precarious world.

As an internal communications professional, you know that it’s not all about logistics and revenues. One area that’s received a lot of attention is the employee experience.

What does this experience look like amidst a health crisis that has left many team members working remote and cut off from colleagues? Even for deskless workers who were already accustomed to remote roles, these times bring up new challenges with respect to how they are experiencing work.


It could be argued that how an employee experiences their workplace is all the more important when that employee is a frontline worker or performs their job remotely. And in your role, you have a unique perspective and opportunity from which to elevate that experience and make the entire organisation stronger.

Informing, Engaging & Inspiring at Every Step

Internal communications teams around the world hustled to rise to the task of keeping workers informed and engaged, with great results. Despite this time of ongoing uncertainty and flux, 78% of workers believe their organisation has responded appropriately, and 77% feel they have received the necessary information to plan and adjust.

Continuing to deliver, while ensuring that employee experience is paramount, is critical to a go-forward IC strategy.

Gallup defines employee experience this way: “…the journey an employee takes with your organization. It includes all the interactions an employee has with your organisation before, during and after their tenure.”

Why does employee experience matter so much? Try these stats on for size. Employees who reported a high quality experience have:

  • 28% higher productivity
  • 37% lower intentions of leaving their job
  • 46% stronger organisational commitment
  • 59% higher job satisfaction

While many internal and external factors combine to produce the whole of an employee’s experience, clearly, internal comms have a key responsibility in this journey. And as a primary purveyor of experience, IC has a lot of clout in an organization. Showing you have a direct effect on employee experience, which in turn influences productivity in a positive direction, demonstrates the value of your communications role.

As we enter a post-pandemic period (yet another chapter of change), here are a few actionable things every IC team should consider implementing along the employee lifecycle that will elevate the employee experience. Some of these phases overlap, but it can still be a useful way to think about your communications in terms of how your employees experience them.

Journey Phase: Onboarding

What’s happening at this phase: Employees are going through a lot of “firsts” as they get oriented to a new organisation. Whether it’s a lack of access to equipment or passwords, or just feeling out of their element, many employees struggle in their first days and weeks. Plus, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organisation does a good job with onboarding.

The goal: Get the employee experience right at the beginning of employment through the appropriate amount of and easy access to communication and information.

How to do it:

  • Personalise communication. Help them feel welcome as an individual, not just the “new hire.”
  • Focus on logistics first. Don’t expect the manager to remember everything. Provide the comprehensive information employees will need to hit the ground running, but do it in “bite-sized” ways that an employee can access later (such as via an employee communications app on their mobile device); not through piles of papers. 
  • Introduce senior leadership to new employees. It’s possible you won’t be able to do this in person, but there are plenty of engaging ways you can use technology to give new employees a sense of who leadership is and what they believe in.
  • Introduce company objectives, key contacts and documents in digestible ways that can be accessed anytime via mobile devices.

Journey Phase: Connectedness

What’s happening at this phase: Employees are carving out their place, professionally and socially. They’re making work friends, figuring out how they fit into a team and what they are responsible for, learning procedures and protocols, and so on.

The goal: Connect employees to the organization and to each other and promote feelings of belonging.

How to do it:

  • Emphasize mobile-first communication so not a single employee feels cut off from the organisation. Make sure your communications reach every employee, even (and especially) the deskless ones.
  • Focus communications on the employee, not on management. Again, personalise communications by role, department, or time in their role. Let employees have a voice and provide them ways to connect with each other across locations using technology.
  • Continue to be the bridge between senior leadership and employees. Implement technology that brings CEO messages, Q&As and other content directly to frontline and remote teams.
  • Enable employees to react and offer feedback to the CEO and other messages from the top. Two-way communication helps them feel connected to and aligned with the company mission and goals.

Journey Phase: Learning, Doing, and Growing

What’s happening at this phase: Employees have been in their roles for a while and have their routine down, but are still progressing in skills and company knowledge. Consider this: after just six months on the job, employee enthusiasm diminishes by about 22%. Some tenured employees are thriving and potentially looking to move up.

The goal: Take proactive steps to combat waning enthusiasm. Help them feel a greater sense of purpose and optimistic about the future by offering opportunities for recognition, performance improvement and growth.

How to do it:

  • Offer training modules and other learning and growth opportunities that can be accessed whenever an employee would like. Even better: Personalise your training communications to a specific role or goal.
  • Provide easy ways for employees and management to acknowledge the contributions of others, such as via in-app peer-to-peer recognition or kudos.
  • Facilitate and encourage user-generated content. Teams can use this to spread the word about their accomplishments, or share other news and updates with each other or the wider organisation.
  • Send out quick-and-easy pulse surveys to gauge employee experience and help you and leadership learn more about what could be improved.

Author: Editorial Team

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