Guest post by Adam Fuss

The other day someone asked me a very important question about one of the key products that I provide clients–employee newsletters.

What should an employee newsletter contain?

A Google search using this question yields dozens of unique results. Lots of bullet-point lists and lots of comments–much of it really quite good. The ground is well covered, to say the least, but given that employee newsletters are a key part of employee engagement, which in turn is increasingly recognized as essential to an organization’s bottom line, I thought it would be worth sharing my experience of what makes some employee newsletters more successful than others.

Over the next several guest posts, I’ll examine the eight “must haves” for employee newsletters regardless of an organization’s size, industry or resources.

Content relevant to everyone
At first, it might seem like I’m stating the obvious. Of course content must be relevant; why publish it otherwise?! The truth is that so many organizations do publish content that is not at all relevant, or that is relevant only to certain people, or that was perhaps relevant at one time but has grown stale. I have seen newsletters that are little more than regurgitated company press releases, empty pontificating by C-suite windbags, reprints from third-party mailings on employee benefits — you name it.

(FULL DISCLOSURE: Given the amount of time I’ve been in the business of employee communications, I fully admit to having helped create irrelevant content at times. For many organizations, it can be a game of trial and error to some extent…)

So what is relevant content? In short, any content that engages employees, that makes them more interested in their jobs and the company they work for, that makes them feel more connected to their co-workers, that makes them want to stay rather than jump ship for another employer.

Below are just a few ideas for employee newsletter content that my experience has shown to be highly relevant, in no particular order of importance:

Information on new initiatives, particularly related to continuous improvement, strategy, safety and environment, benefits, training and development, etc. (more on some of these in coming posts).

Employee interviews or articles with lots of employee quotes. Employees love hearing from their colleague in the next cubicle over or the office across the country. Real conversations with real employees can make company news much more, well, real…and relevant.

• Fun articles featuring employee interests and accomplishments outside the workplace.

Graphic elements that reinforce content or speak for themselves. (More on photography and illustrations in a later post.)

• Material that connects to, reinforces or expands upon other communications channels, external or internal (e.g., webcasts, a corporate intranet, HR mailings, etc.).

Vacancies where internal applications are welcome.

Survey results that show both what the company is doing well and areas where improvement is needed.

Next up in this series: Direct executive communication

Adam Fuss has been a corporate communications consultant, writer, editor, and Russian-English translator for the last seven years. As principal at ABF Communications he works with clients across industries and cultures to improve organizational messaging and strengthen employee engagement. Adam is based in Chicago.