How to implement change of communication strategies

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 16 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

For organisations to adapt to changes in their structure or strategies, it's vital that they communicate effectively. Resistance to change from staff in the workplace is typical, which is why the change of communication, also known as change communications, is essential. When procedures and policies change from within a company, effective change communication strategies are essential to counteract resistance and ensure a successful outcome. In this article, we explain what change of communication is, how it works and the best way to implement it.

What is change of communication?

Change of communication, also known simply as change communication, is an aspect of change management strategy that focuses on relaying information. It's a useful way for staff and shareholders to gain an understanding of new processes, protocols or initiatives from within a company. Change communication strategy dictates that it's best to deliver communication in a timely, relevant and consistent manner. Put structures in place to allow for feedback, queries and criticisms for any new initiatives.

Change communication is important across a business, such as creating new technology and updating business functions. It's incredibly useful because it provides individuals with a framework to help them move towards a new status quo for a company. It also fosters a more positive experience for members of staff as they're better informed about new and emerging changes to the company they work for.

Related: A guide on how to cope with change in the workplace

4 stages of change communication

Change communication strategies tend to follow a set course of action to ensure an effective transition. There are four main stages in a change communications strategy. These stages are:

  1. Awareness: This involves raising awareness throughout the company in a clear, concise and timely manner. Management often personalises and provides communication to staff through preferred communication channels to alleviate fears and resistance to the changes.

  2. Understanding: The next stage focuses on ensuring staff understand the changes, how the company plans to implement them and how they might impact their working life. Ideally, this stage showcases the benefits that the changes intend to bring.

  3. Acceptance: This stage looks at encouraging staff acceptance of the changes brought about. It's important that employees have the opportunity to discuss their thoughts on the changes so that they feel involved and part of the process.

  4. Commitment: Finally, staff commit to the changes to ensure a successful transition, which is often the most challenging part to complete because it's about consistency and longevity. Communication at this stage ought to be free-flowing and available for all to ensure effective collaboration between staff and employers.

Related: A complete guide to change management communication

How to implement a successful change communication strategy

The changes brought about by changes in communication strategies have the potential to create negative knock-on effects if you don't perform the process effectively. Stress levels rise in staff that struggle with the changes if there isn't clear communication, which in turn causes a drop in overall productivity and performance. To alleviate these issues, it's vital that change communication comes about intelligently. To help you roll out an effective change communication strategy, follow the steps below:

1. Develop a robust strategy for change communication

It's important to start any change communication strategy off with a strong foundation, which requires the development of a strong plan. This plan ought to follow a loose structure that incorporates:

  • a clear outline of the change and a vision for future implementation

  • an assessment of factors involved in the change

  • analysis of key stakeholders and how they're affected

  • considerations to changes in daily operations

  • outline of key points or messages

  • generate motivational content for staff

  • establish an editorial communications schedule or calendar

  • develop an understanding of different internal audiences

  • find the most suitable channels for communication to reach staff effectively

  • implement ways to monitor and measure the communication efforts

2. Involve leaders and management

Key individuals in the company, such as leaders and management, are an important part of effective change communication strategy as other staff looks to them for guidance. It's because of this that these individuals act as role models to encourage change and motivate staff to implement the changes. Employees hold certain expectations that their leaders and superiors provide authentic, trustworthy communication, so it's vital that they act as influencers in this regard.

Related: What is change leadership? (With benefits, tips and skills)

3. Incorporate the internal communications department

Just like management and leaders in the workplace, the internal communications department also plays a significant role in effective communication changes in a company. Their role is to support management throughout the change process by offering clear, consistent messaging that aligns with managerial behaviours and the ultimate goals of the change process. This is a two-way partnership, as internal communications staff encourage management to communicate with staff and provide clear communication.

4. Use the most suitable communication channels

To ensure that you provide information to staff effectively, use the most suitable channels for communication. One of the most common channels of communication for this is a company's internal communications, such as a local intranet or content management system. Other channels include email, which is useful but doesn't always effectively reach staff due to spam filters or individuals not checking their inbox regularly.

Related: Guide: physical barriers to communication (types and tips)

5. Be consistent and regular with communication

Change fatigue is a legitimate concern for change communication strategies, as staff become less receptive to important messaging over time. To counter this issue, consistent and regular communication acts to normalise the updates and make staff more engaged with the changes brought about. Most employees have a set way of working and these changes put the established way of working in jeopardy. The best way to deal with this is through clear communication that is regularly shared with staff. To ensure the messaging is clear and engaging, consider the questions employees might have, such as:

  • What are the changes?

  • What are the aims of the changes?

  • How may the staff's duties or role in the company change?

  • How quickly are the changes brought about?

  • Where can you check for updates about changes?

  • How are staff going to embrace these changes?

6. Raise awareness through engaging communication campaigns

A large part of a successful change communication strategy is to make it as engaging as possible for the desired audience. Staff are likely to ignore or forget about internal messaging that isn't engaging, so there is a significant need for creative communication campaigns. Internal communicators act like marketers or advertisers in this regard.

They must sell the idea of change to staff through their communications. Creating these types of communication campaigns requires a good deal of creativity to captivate the audience thoroughly. Instead of drafting a standard email announcement, an entertaining video might work much better in terms of engagement. All of this work focuses on encouraging staff to understand and undertake these changes, so the more engagement there is, the more effective the strategy becomes.

Related: 12 ways to improve team communication in the workplace

7. Tailor communications so they are relevant and personalised

Providing staff with superfluous or irrelevant information is a good way to deter them from listening to the changes and implementing them. It's important to understand the different types of audiences that the content resonates with, so tailoring the messaging to the specific audience is vital. Getting this right starts with identifying your audiences and understanding what is relevant to them. The marketing team has different priorities than the production team, so be sure to tailor messaging appropriately.

8. Encourage two-way communication with staff

As discussed previously, an effective change communication strategy requires two-way communication to work. Staff ought to have a platform to discuss the changes and highlight any grievances, concerns or other input they have. They require the ability to ask questions to senior management to give them a voice and let them feel involved in the process.

If you don't establish a two-way channel for communication, staff are likely to turn away from the changes which can result in a failed strategy. Avoid sending mass emails throughout the organisation, make sure the content is relevant and make it engaging if you're looking for a strong uptake to change.

Related: How To Overcome Resistance To Change at Work in 6 Steps

9. Provide easy-to-access resources and information

Employees require access to key information and resources about the changes brought about, otherwise, they won't have a full understanding of what's happening. So it falls on employers and senior leaders to provide that information in an easy-to-access way. More than making the information available, it ought to be readily brought to their attention.

The easiest way to do this is to find a way to communicate via smartphones. This could take the form of high priority emails or in-app push notifications if there's a company application available. Either way, giving staff the information in their hands is the best approach for an effective change communications strategy.

Related:

  • What are communication strategies? (A guide for your career)


Explore more articles