We know that employees are bombarded by too much information about complex topics that are difficult to understand.

What can we do about this problem? Think like an architect!

On a recent trip to Chicago, I was surrounded by the dramatic skyscrapers designed by Mies van der Rohe, a pioneer of the International Style of modern architecture. As I marveled at the buildings’ minimalist frameworks, clean lines and sleek finishes, I had a thought. Successful employee communication is a lot like Mies’ buildings: simple, clear and direct.

Some of his quotes offer a blueprint for providing employees with easy-to-digest information. Here are three points to remember:

“Less is more.” Craft concise copy that is easily digestible. Employees are overloaded with information:

  • The amount of email that employees manage every day is overwhelming—about 115 total emails are sent and received daily.
  • Employees’ attention spans are decreasing.

“I don’t want to be interesting, I want to be good.” Design communication to answer this key question: What do you want employees to know, believe and do?

  • Curate pertinent information, instead of creating long, dense and detailed content.
  • Remember that employees are diverse. And varied demographics—age, job level, gender, ethnicity and geography—mean that different employees have different expectations about how communication should work for them.

“God is in the details.” Get to the point by using scannable copy, streamlined fonts, simple icons and arresting photographs.

  • People remember 10% of what they hear three days later; add a picture and they remember 65%.
  • People following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations.

So when communicating to employees, adopt Mies’ approach, and be simple, clear and direct. We won’t be building skyscrapers any time soon, but we will create meaningful employee communication that will rise above the rest.

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