Samantha Reid | Gallery Design Studio Editor + Copywriter
Remember that 2-inch employee handbook you got at your first job, flipped through once, tossed in the trunk of your car, and forgot about? Nope, and neither does the manager who gave it to you.
Even in today’s technology-focused age, many marketers fail to recognize the ROI of design for internal-use materials. Intuitive and simple layouts not only streamline employee tools, like playbooks and video tutorials, but also keep team members up-to-date on best practices and workflows.
In a Gallup poll, when asked what impacts their comfort and well-being at work, a significant number of employees named ‘open communication’ as the single most important factor. In response to this demand, large companies, including Deloitte, have started to recognize the need to create an experience for employees that is just as user-centered as the experiences they construct for consumers.
There are 3 steps to determining the state of design in your company: consider, incorporate, and assess.
1. Consider: the current state of your internal communications
For some marketing managers, focusing on design for internal documents may appear to be unnecessary, and even costly. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Appraising design from the outset of any product, service, process or document creation, whether for internal use or not, is a common asset among many successful companies.
As you consider how to include design for your internal communications, use the below questions to determine your current usage of internal design.
1. Where and how is design currently used in internal communications?
Begin with listing the various types of communications. Is there more than one design being used? If so, is there branding reasoning behind the usage? Are workflows and processes visualized? Are the company’s best practices visualized via effective designs and layouts?
2. How can you improve the current design process?
You may consider increasing management involvement by assigning one specific team member to spearhead changes in design. If the project is significant, there may be need to hire a professional design team.
3. Are there any areas of your business where design opportunities are being missed?
Look for current external documents with a similar layout to what you could use internally, and consider adapting similar formatting to create a consistent and professional look across materials.
Consider design beyond document layout. Provide all employees with visualizations of Standard Operation Procedure protocols, hierarchies and workflows to eliminate confusion and increase productivity.
4. Are design considerations featured in all planning meetings and across all documents?
Emails, meeting agendas, and event notices are some of the most common internal communications. Are the documents created easy for employees to read and develop? Do your employees spend valuable time deciphering and creating confusingly formatted documents?
After you use the above questions to determine your business’ internal use of design, you can incorporate design to provide clarity and peace of mind.
2. Incorporate: include design in your company training materials
Consider your currently available training materials, like handbooks, videos, and how-to guides. Is the information presentation clear to your employees?
Clear and simple charts and well-constructed workflow illustrations eliminate the time a confused employee spends troubleshooting a given problem. Who’s in charge of that project that’s due next week? Your employees shouldn’t have to send 3 emails to find out, especially when this information can be simply aggregated for employees to access as needed.
Why should you care about employees’ stress levels? Studies show that when employees are happier, they are more productive. Well-designed workflows give them the time they need to focus on their main priorities.
3. Assess: make the most of your company communication designs
For any design project, there must be articulated goals for measuring its success.
In the case of in-house communications, positive employee response is a critical goal. If you design a new agenda layout or a new website interface for productivity, the standard of success will be its rate and ease of usage among employees. The following questions are useful assessments.
Specificity and clarity are key.
To squeeze the last drop of return out of your design investment, debrief on the process. Can the team learn any lessons? Were there avoidable issues or miscommunications? Most importantly, can the company avoid these mistakes in the future by incorporating these lessons into current and future training and design materials?
Consider the current state of design in your organization and incorporate design to clarify shared ideas, processes and workflows in order to provide your employees with a uniform understanding of best practices. Assess the efficacy of your designs to ensure high rates of employee productivity.
You already know how critical design is to the customer experience — now you can reap even more benefits when you apply thoughtful design to your internal communications and processes.
About Gallery Design Studio
We're passionate about helping B2B businesses with their ongoing marketing communication design needs. We help our clients transmit complex information clearly, concisely and in a visually engaging way. Relentlessly curious, we're inspired by experimentation, and always looking for better ways to serve our clients.
We’ve collaborated with transformational businesses and government agencies such as The NYC Law Department, CIT Bank and Questback.
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About the Writer
Samantha is a copywriter at Gallery Design Studio. Samantha is passionate about using precise and evocative messaging to connect with clients. She has written for journals, online publications and blogs.