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How to communicate with 1000 employees (or more!)

Kelsey Kingdon

Internal communication is truly an essential part of any organization. Authentic and engaging communications are just as important whether you have ten employees, or 1,000, or 5,000, or even 10,000! But as your team grows, how do you keep departments (and the company as a whole) connected? How do you make sure everyone is aligned with the same objectives and goals? 

We sat down with Lydia Peddicord, Senior Manager of Corporate Internal Communications at GoDaddy, and Michelle Johnson, Director of Corporate Communications at Oriental Trading Co., to learn about their communication strategies, tools, and the challenges they face when communicating with a large workforce. 

Here’s what we learned!

Use different tools to reach your employees where they’re at

With over a thousand employees, the internal communications team at GoDaddy focuses on three main channels when communicating with employees: email, Slack, and their SharePoint intranet. Their strategy aims to reach every employee regardless of their preferred method of communication. (We think this is a great approach to internal communication because, at the end of the day, you’re never going to reach 100% of your employees through one channel.)

By using a variety of different tools, the GoDaddy team has been able to keep an eye on their internal communication metrics by tracking open rates, click-through rates, and read-through rates of distributed content. 

Here at Workshop, we believe that every company can put together an intentional, effective internal communications strategy with just four tools, and all of them should feel really familiar to your employees and super easy for you to use.

The four tools we recommend for a robust internal communications strategy are:
1.) A tool for sending email
2.) A tool for texting employees
3.) A tool for instant messaging
4.) An intranet/hub

[We did a deep dive on more specifics & what to look for in each internal communications tool if you’re interested!]

Use surveys and focus groups 

Oriental Trading Co. runs surveys to identify what is and isn’t working in their internal communication practices. Whenever a gap or a challenge is identified in the survey results, they turn to focus groups to help uncover the nature of the problem – helping them identify the root cause of communication or engagement issues, provide accurate insights, and adjust their internal comms strategy as needed.

We recommend sending out an internal comms survey every 6-12 months, which will give you a great benchmark and a way for you to measure how effective your efforts have been over time.

Here are a few questions we include in our internal comms survey:

  • How happy are you with the overall internal communication you currently receive? 
  • Please rate your level of satisfaction with our existing internal communication channels. 
  • Please rate your level of satisfaction with the communication from the following departments/teams/individuals. 
  • What information do you wish you had more of? 
  • What information do you wish you had less of?
  • What other suggestions do you have about improving our communication strategy going forward?

[Looking to run your own internal communications survey? Here’s a survey template to help you get started!]

Add engaging elements in your internal comms for quick moments of delight

Make it fun! The internal comms team at GoDaddy has been making a push to include more engaging elements in their internal communications. They have found success with using video, gifs, and images. They’ve also been experimenting with their tone of voice, leaning toward a more fun, conversational, and transparent tone in the comms they are sending.

Gamification has been another big key to keeping their comms engaging. 

“Anytime we gamify a campaign, it seems to go really well,” Lydia says. 

For their annual compliance training, Lydia and the team will hide small easter eggs within the training and see if people catch them when they send their follow-up survey, giving the team a chance to win prizes if they find all the hidden easter eggs. Lydia mentioned how genuinely excited people get and that it has made their training more fun.  

Another great way to add a quick moment of delight is to include a miscellaneous section in your newsletter. Here at Workshop, we like to include a section at the bottom for GIFs, tweets, quotes, words of affirmation, and sometimes a giveaway in our Happy Monday Club emails. A miscellaneous section is also a great place to spotlight an employee and one of their passions or hobbies or use it to highlight a milestone they have recently reached.

Use digital signage and QR codes to communicate with frontline employees

When it comes to communicating with their operations employees at fulfillment centers, the team at Oriental Trading Co. uses digital signage and QR codes to display important content and information to their frontline teams.

A few of our favorite ways Oriental Trading Co. uses QR codes on digital signage:

  • Open enrollment information: The team generates QR codes that operations employees at fulfillment centers can scan to access benefit information like benefits overview, changes to benefits, and step-by-step instructions.
  • Company events (like a company picnic): Oriental Trading Co. also uses QR codes for their internal events (like company picnics!) and sends detailed event information and an RSVP so they can see who will be attending the event. 

Bonus: With Workshop, you can generate a QR code for any internal email with a quick click and use that QR code for tabletop displays, digital signage, breakroom posters, you name it! Our QR code generation feature ensures that your frontline employees get the information they need right at a glance (without needing a company email address).

The importance of manager communication

With such a large workforce, keeping everyone on the same page at Oriental Trading Co. is a must, especially to help prevent silos within the organization. One strategy the team has focused on recently is revamping their leadership and manager training to include the importance of communication.

The truth is that it’s impossible to overcommunicate with the team! Employees want to hear more from management about what is going on with the company. (In fact, it was the #1 trend that internal communicators are looking to tackle this year, according to our 2024 Internal Communication Trends Report.)

On the importance of communication coming from leadership, Michelle says, “Even when we’re not ready to share the whole picture, it’s important that we share what we can. It’s human nature to fill in the gaps so if we stay silent, teams may make assumptions that are not accurate.”

Lydia also talked about the importance of creating consistent feedback loops when communicating with a large team. At GoDaddy, they have an instant messaging channel where employees can go and post their questions. Leadership then pulls these questions and will answer them live during town halls. 

We love the idea of creating a listening channel at the top of the company that lets employees know that leadership wants to both communicate with employees and hear from them. This could be via a weekly CEO email to the team, town halls, surveys, or interviews. Whatever listening channel you decide to implement, make sure that there is a regular cadence and a strong feedback loop!

Whether it’s diversifying your communication channels to meet employees where they are at, embracing employee feedback through surveys and focus groups, or incorporating engaging elements like videos and gamification into your internal communications, Lydia and Michelle provided great tips when communicating with a large workforce. These practices can help workplaces create a strong connection and shared purpose with a team of any size!

Here are a few more articles & resources that will help you to communicate with a large workforce:

If you’re looking for a tool to help you manage your internal communications at scale, we’re here to help. Workshop was built with internal communications in mind, and can help you set up the right systems and processes to manage your internal emails across a global, distributed team. From private campaigns to a shared calendar, Workshop offers the tools you need to streamline your workflow and align your organization! Interested in learning more? We’d love to chat!

Note: Michelle Johnson is now the Vice President of Communications and Public Relations at Scooter’s Coffee.

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