Focus on the journey and the rest will follow: Internal Comms in the Staff Journey

By Shelby Loasby

June 29, 2020 

Employee engagement is a hotly debated topic in internal communications. We know that engagement leads to retention, job satisfaction, pride and advocacy but how should internal communicators strategically plan for these goals? 

As you can imagine, there are lots of models out there to help with engagement planning, but the method that gets often overlooked, yet could reap the most benefits for you and your team, is Staff Journey Mapping. 

So, let’s take a look at what a staff journey is, why should you use it, and my four steps to creating your own. 

Focus on the journey and the rest will follow. 

What is a staff journey?

Simply put, the staff journey is a timeline. It is a visual map of the lifespan of an employee, made up of key touchpoints and milestones. 

The journey can be used to map the employee experience from the application process to leaving the organisation, identifying areas of improvement, exposing any gaps, and helping to facilitate a cultural transformation. 

Staff journeys, or Employee Experience Maps as they are also known, are widely used by HR professionals to better understand their colleagues. Internal communicators can learn from this practice and need to adopt the same idea to better inform their work.  

Why should internal communicators use staff journeys?

Internal Communications exists to connect organisations with employees and vice versa. IC is the voice of the organisation; it is the function in which the brand and the leadership engages with the employees. But engagement is a two-way street, and without understanding the wants, needs, and expectations of the employees, how can IC help to connect the two?

By using the staff journey, internal communicators will be able to see a clear outline of what a ‘typical’ employee goes through during their time with the organisation. It will highlight what employees require from an internal communications function, such as; induction packages, development opportunities, and even when it’s the right time for celebrations and recognition. The staff journey will be personal to each organisation and their people, so there aren’t any wrong answers when it comes to your own planning.

One size doesn’t fit all employees either, but staff journeys can help to establish the principles behind when and why we should communicate. It is essentially a roadmap to validated, relevant and effective communications and should be driving the way internal communicators write their strategies. 

How to make your own staff journey: 4 simple steps 

Before explaining the steps, I must make it clear that none of this work can be done alone, and it is not a one-time project. This is a living, breathing, dynamic document that needs different stakeholders’ input and regular reviews to make it happen. Make sure you have conversations with your Senior leaders, HR, staff wellbeing or people development teams to get the ball rolling. 

Step one: Research
You need to start your mapping by listening to the employees. Now, there’s no expectation for you to go and talk to every employee but take a look at some existing sources within your company to help you get started. Things you can use:

· Staff survey reports – use the most recent results to get a snapshot for what employees are thinking and feeling
· Poll results – has your company run any OfficeVibe type polls that you can tap into?
· Interviews and focus groups – Any recent interviews with staff about any aspect of the organisation can really help. Even if the interviews are about unrelated topics, you can get a feel for the organisation’s mood
· HR Personas – Has your HR department done any persona modelling to help with recruitment, retention or management? You can use them to understand goals, motivations and frustrations of staff.

Step two: Define the milestones. 

Every company will have slightly different stages in the employee lifecycle but think about the key milestones where internal communications teams can help. The list can go on, so try and be specific and realistic about what you are mapping and what you want to achieve. A good starting point for some milestones:

Application > Interview > Acceptance > Induction > Workiversaires and recognition > Development 
Step three: Map it out.

Against each milestone, you need to map out some findings and info. I’ve made my own variables called PEEGA, which will help you to understand each milestone better: 

P – Process. What is currently happening during the milestone?

E – Experience
. What is the experience of the employee during this process? Maybe add some quotes from employees to add a richer picture of what is happening

E – Expectations. What do employees expect at this milestone? And equally as important, what does the company expect at this point?

G – Gap analysis. Looking at the process, experience and expectations; what is missing? What is causing the disconnect in the staff journey?

A – Actions. Now it’s time to help the situation and connect the company with the employee. Write down what Internal Comms can do. 

Download the IC&Me template here.

Step four: Test, amend, test again

Once you have created your Staff Journey, compile a list of all of the actions and start implementing straight away. Talk to who you need to get on board and make some changes to your IC strategy to make it happen. Test the journey with colleagues from all corners of the organisation to make sure you’ve captured the right sentiment and realities. 

Make sure you keep the Staff Journey up to date as well. Remember, this is not a one-time project and there will always be new insight and developments that you can plug into the journey.
Over to you

Staff Journeys can help transform the way you plan and execute your communications, campaigns and corporate storytelling. It’s over to you to get started. So, take these four steps and apply them to your strategies and workplaces today. Get mapping and share your journeys with us!

 Shelby Loasby is the Internal Communications Manager for a University. She started her career as Student President at a Students’ Union before moving to the Internal Communications team as an Officer, and later Manager. She has a degree in History, and previously volunteered as a writer for student and local newspapers and websites. Shelby has just completed her CIPR Internal Communications Diploma and runs her own blog and website: IC and Me, aiming to help other practitioners with their work and development.