Use Multiple Communications Channels in Business and at Work

As I co-facilitated a client meeting last week, the subject of effective employee communications came up.

“Our employees never seem to remember what we say at our staff meetings,” a client leader observed.

“Not surprising,” I replied. “Once is not enough for information retention – and it’s best to use multiple communications channels with the same message, depending on the employee’s preferred learning style.”

I started my HR career with Employee Communications as my primary responsibility.  I had heard this theory before, and it was certainly true of my actual experience in conveying information to employees that they actually retain:

Thomas Smith wrote a guide called Successful Advertising in 1885.  The saying he used is still being used today.

The first time people look at any given ad, they don’t even see it.
The second time, they don’t notice it.
The third time, they are aware that it is there.
The fourth time, they have a fleeting sense that they’ve seen it somewhere before.
The fifth time, they actually read the ad.

“With your example of employees not retaining face-to-face communication, the recommendation is to follow up your staff meeting with an all-employee email summarizing the key points; post it on your internal website; and even post it, hard-copy, on the break room bulletin board,” I continued. “In my experience, those repetitions in different communications channels – face-to-face, email, hard-copy / visual – will reinforce the messages you want employees to remember.”

How do you use multiple communications channels to ensure that your team retains key business information, in business and at work?

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