What to do when employees don’t want to prepare articles to an internal newspaper or an intranet?

I’ve often heard at my IC trainings and cooperating with you that your employees don’t want to prepare the content to an intranet, an internal newspaper or internal social media. What can we do to encourage them? My today’s post brings a few tips.   

1.    Don’t expect everyone to be involved in the internal communications
First, be realistic. It’s impossible to involve all employees in the IC. Such stories may be found in movies or fairy tales. The reality of our companies is different – a constant lack of time, short deadlines and tasks which should be finished yesterday. In such reality the articles to our internal media have a low priority. That’s why it’s worth rethinking what level of engagement is satisfying and enough for us. And it should be our goal, not magical 100%. Forget about 100% employees being involved. Think about a real measure.

2.    Prepare your offer in return
Sometimes we expect our employees to engage in the internal communications, but we‘ve got a little to offer in return. We never explain to our employees what kind of advantages and benefits it may bring them, their teams and the company if they’re involved. For me this should be a permanent task among our all IC actions.
Think what you may offer your employees if they’re engaged. Maybe you can organise an interesting training where they can improve their writing skills? Or maybe you can offer something that is unavailable for others.   

I’ve heard many bad stories how the IC teams try to encourage their employees to take part in such actions. I’ve heard about awards, gadgets or even money the authors got! I’ve also heard about the idea to give points to the employees after publishing an article or a comment. These points could be later exchanged for some gadgets in a company online shop. Be careful with such actions, because they shouldn’t be like buying the engagement. It’s not what the internal communication is about.

3.    Show the aim and benefits of being engaged
Do your employees know what the aim of writing to the internal tools is about? Do they see the point of it and the entire internal communication? Do they know how important the information and knowledge sharing is for everyday cooperation among the employees? We should constantly educate our audiences about the IC – its aims, rules and roles. Think how you can implement these actions in your company.

4.    Understand their fears
And do you know what stops your employees from getting involved? Maybe they don’t know how to find a topic or if their story is interesting enough to be published. Take your time to find out what blocks them. Only then you can plan proper actions to solve this problem and change your employees’ attitude towards the internal communications. When you discover that, there is a chance you’ll find a way to involve a group of them.

5.    Help your employees improve their skills
The employees may be afraid of being mentioned in the internal newspaper or being pictured on internal social media. They may also not have enough self-confidence in writing. They weren’t hired to do this kind of tasks. It’s our role to support them. Maybe you’re able to train them on your own or have sources to hire an external expert or a journalist to improve their writing skills. I conduct such trainings for the employees who don’t work in the IC or PR team. This training is for those who write to the internal media but have never been taught how to do it, e.g. for the employees of a law department, a health and safety team, IT guys and labourers. These meetings are also a good way to integrate them, explain the aim of the internal communication and our comms actions to them.  

6.    Engage the management
It’s very important to engage the management in the communication as well. They set an example on how their staff should behave. We sometimes aren’t even aware of how many actions and thoughts we copy from our supervisors. The engagement is an attitude, it’s a part of a company culture which starts from the top. And here again is our task to explain the IC role, aims, benefits and values to the management. And again, don’t expect everyone to get involved. Cooperate with those who want to do it and see what happens. It’s only a matter of time when others (but still not everyone) join and follow your actions.  

7.    Appreciate your employees
Remember about simple appreciation. Imagine such a situation. An employee prepared, e.g. an article for the internal newspaper, sent it to you and then nothing happened. It wasn’t published and maybe even you didn’t reply to this email. Or this article was edited in a way it was difficult to find any original sentences. Or still you didn’t explain to the author why it was done this way. Or the article was published and hated by some employees. These behaviours may discourage. Think about how to appreciate your employees if they’re engaged.   

When I worked in a corporation, I had a rule. I published each article I got. The intranet is huge and there is always space for all articles but not all of them should be pushed to the employees. Some of the articles sent to me were very poor and I had to spend a lot of time editing them and explaining all the changes to the authors. But I knew if I had sent these employees to their rooms with the rejection only, they would probably never have come back to me with any article in the future. I appreciated their willingness, time they spent and engagement. And it worked. Next time I got better articles thanks to this time I spent on all these explanations on how to write and change the articles to make them better for the publication.    

Moreover, remember about a kind word. Saying simple ‘thank you’ and showing the results, e.g. the statistics after publishing the article on the intranet, is helpful and simple to do. It shows the author it was good to get engaged. I also informed the supervisors of these employees about their results. Yes, I know, it takes time to prepare another email but believe me it works and will help you encourage more and more people in your IC actions.    


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