west Go back

How to identify your organization's most essential communications

Essential communications are the core updates that keep an organization’s employees, members, and stakeholders aligned — elevating the vital details they need to be successful.

  • Why it matters: Only 46% of employees say the essential communications they see from leaders week to week are helpful, relevant, and full of the context they need to do good work. That’s a problem.

As an executive, manager, or in-house communicator, determining which topics and details you need to share — what hits that high bar of being essential — requires time, intention, reflection, and sometimes a ruthless shakeup of what you’ve been doing to-date. Often, it comes down to updates that are…

  • High-stakes, subjects that impact your bottom line, change the way you do business, or impart information that is crucial to keeping everyone moving in the same direction.

  • Require action, like updates that include a call to consequential action. It can be signing up for benefits, joining a DEI event, responding to an urgent inquiry, or contributing to a team-level project.

  • Long-tail impact, like business decisions or shifts in strategy that will continue to have an effect on your organization next week, next month, or next year.

  • For a broad audience, rather than something shared 1:1. If the stakes are high and it’s truly essential, it will be something that leaders, teams, or entire organizations will need to be informed about and aligned with in order to succeed.

Take stock of what you have been — or should be — sending to your employees, members, or stakeholders. Make sure they tick at least two of the boxes above. And challenge yourself to only share what’s worth those readers stopping in their tracks to read what you send them the moment they receive it. That will go a long way in helping you decide what to send and when.

 

Then listen to your audience

Employees say the two topics that they receive updates about most frequently — business updates and macro-environment trends — are the same two topics that are least likely to be essential to their work day. Try focusing on three topics employees say they value most:

  1. Operational changes, like new protocols, policies, and processes.
  2. Goals and initiatives, broken out by team and department priorities.
  3. Culture and people ops, like personnel changes, DEI updates, and events.

It’s up to leaders to identify which messages staff and stakeholders value, which they can do without, and refining that balance to protect the organization’s time and productivity. Start by evaluating what went well — and not so well — last year. Then move forward by connecting with employees through polls and surveys to ensure what you’re sending is what they want to read. 

Combining the communications that rise to the level of essential with what readers want to know will give you your strongest recipe for success. 

Go deeper: Discover how to manage essential communications at your organization.