Improving internal communication via channel optimization
|This report provides an analysis and evaluation of the information flow within Verstraete IML. Open communication is one of Verstraete IML’s core values. The managerial team attaches great importance to this value as it allows a flow of energy and creativity throughout the company. Today, not all messages catch the attention of those interested. Investing in the optimization of the communication strategy will benefit Verstraete IML, as research has shown that effective employee communication is a leading indicator of financial performance and a driver of employee engagement. Research methods include internal focus groups with operators, white-collar workers, team coaches, process owners and management. The focus groups’ aim was to uncover the pain points regarding internal communication experienced by the different parties. Additionally, an external benchmark was performed to check on the communication tools used by other production companies. Multiple researchers have defined internal communications in a different way. To enable the use of one definition in the data collection, a simplified version of literature has been adopted: “internal communication can be seen as the sharing of information horizontally and vertically within the organization”. Unfortunately, literature does not yet provide a specific framework on how to organize internal communication. In general, a lot of opportunities exist to supplement prior research in this field of study. Analyzing the data gathered in the focus groups, resulted in three key findings. Firstly, there is a commonly shared negative perspective on the fact that there is no clear overview on which channel to consult, when in need of discovering information on a certain topic. Secondly, the lack of consistency in the usage of communication channels was pointed out. A third key finding concerns the suggestions for improvement made by the interviewees. The creation of a clearly structured portfolio of appropriate channels and guidelines on how to use them, is the first improvement opportunity. The second opportunity for improvement is related to changing the attitude of the employees consulting the tools. As for the external benchmark, the overall conclusion is that, compared to the companies interviewed (Ontex, Renson, TVH and Aleris), Verstraete IML is a pioneer in internal communication. At some points, Verstraete IML could fine tune its communication strategy learning from Aleris. The most important recommendation to optimize the communication practices at Verstraete IML, includes the appointment of an internal communication manager keeping a helicopter view over the various communication channels. This individual will stimulate communication throughout the company and become the point of contact for employees. The appointment of this internal communication manager will also be vital for the successful completion of the second recommendation, namely the centralization of information within the organization. To enable this centralization, three new channels can be installed. Firstly, a customized SharePoint communication site will offer easy access to news topics and events. Secondly, installing an internal social medium, Yammer, will create higher connectivity throughout the company. It allows to share opinions and ideas on a central location. Lastly, implementing communication boards in production will prevent the sense of information overload. A third recommendation concerns the retention of printed communication to address the production departments. Inevitably, this research carries some limitations as well. Collecting data through the use of focus groups is, according to literature, the best way to assess the employees’ needs and expectations. Downsides to this research method are that on the one hand shy employees might be hesitant in sharing their true opinion, on the other hand ‘group thinking’ could occur. In this research project, this effect is countered by a small survey at the end of each focus group, and by the usage of multiple moderators paying attention to non-verbal communication. As analyzing a focus groups is fairly labor intensive, the number of focus groups is limited. In addition, by solely selecting enthusiastic employees willingly to engage in the project, a bias could occur. Another limitation is linked to the scope of the project. As the scope of this research project is limited, suggestions related to for example personal feedback could not be addressed. Overall, this report offers a new communication strategy and plan for a growing company. All channels have been reviewed and optimized to enable better information sharing throughout the company. Following this plan will allow Verstraete IML to take communication to a next level.
|Improving internal communication via channel optimization
|Human Resource Management