The 5 C’s of employee communication

To craft effective messaging for your workers, be more confident, consistent, colorful and compassionate.

Employee comms tips

What’s the worst that could happen when you’re communicating with employees?

A stray typo or bland email here and there won’t ruin anyone’s life, but poor communication, over time, can erode trust, tarnish credibility and sink employee morale. Stilted communication sows seeds of mistrust, and it tends to sap engagement and productivity. Who wants to work for a company that routinely puts out mysterious, muddled messaging?

To avoid annoying workers and stoking internal confusion, consider these five hallmarks of effective employee communication:

Confident. How often do you receive messaging that’s long-winded, but light on substance? How about when change is afoot?

Companies often craft halting, anodyne messaging with all the confidence of an awkward teenager asking for a dance at a bar mitzvah. If you lack confidence or some measure of authoritative command in your communications—if you fail to provide clear, specific directions, feedback and explanations of where the company is heading—you’ll alienate your workforce.

Meek, vague and nondescript messages often cause more trouble than they’re worth. It makes it seem like you’re hiding something. Stand up straight, communicate confidently, and be transparent with your workers. Even when the news is bad, projecting confidence can reassure employees and steady the ship.

Consistent. Does your company communicate haphazardly?

According to PoliteMail, emails that get sent each week at the same hour on the same day tend to get much higher open rates.

Consistency (in tone and timing) is crucial across all channels—even on social media. If you communicate on an ad hoc basis—or if your employees don’t hear from you for long stretches—the rumor mill becomes the de facto driver of internal communications. Silence tends to breed worry.

Regularly set the tone with consistent—not incessant—messaging that reassures, encourages, educates and edifies workers.

Concise. Brevity is beautiful.

Do your employees a favor, and keep your comms short. Videos, emails, articles, town halls, company updates, budget meetings, project recaps—there’s no need for any of these things to be long-winded. Being concise conveys respect.

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Compassionate. Corporate communications often feature all the personality, warmth and humanity of a Roomba vacuum cleaner.

Communicating with heartfelt compassion lets employees know they’re valued, respected members of the team—instead of replaceable cogs in the business machine.

Just as marketers prioritize personalization to cozy up to potential customers, internal communicators should tailor pieces to accommodate workers’ tastes and preferences. That’s an easy way to craft engaging communications.

Colorful. Clean copy is great, and branding is important, but messaging must also be memorable.

Be mindful of the psychological impact of hues and tones, and make your communications vivid with colorful creativity.

Prioritize stunning design, use plenty of visuals, and don’t shy away from genuine emotions. Tell fun, engaging stories about colorful characters and colleagues. Bring life to dull stories and topics by adding vibrant splashes of emotive color.

Obviously, no one’s winning Pulitzers writing about the new benefits plan. However, every touchpoint with employees is a chance to build trust, affinity and engagement. That’s a big, bottom-line deal.

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