Your internal communication strategy is the glue that holds your organisation together. Without it, your employees wouldn’t know when major projects were due or when they needed to show up to work.
However, your internal communication strategy can offer so much more than that, if you approach it in the right way.
Internal communication informs employees of key strategic objectives, encourages knowledge sharing across the business and creates a friendly, vibrant company culture that people want to be a part of. All of this increases employee engagement with individual roles and the organisation as a whole.
As engaged employees have a significant positive effect on revenue (and disengaged employees cost companies an extra third of their salaries each year), a good internal communication strategy offers serious business benefits.
Use these tips to turn your internal comms strategy into a major asset for meeting key business goals:
1. Explore modern communications tools
Often, an internal communication strategy is based around email. The problem with this is that, while it might work relatively well for some sections of your workforce, it doesn’t work at all for others.
Mobile or frontline teams have limited to no access to work email (some might not even have a corporate email address). In a recent report by Harvard Business Review, 72% of respondents said that productivity increased when they empowered frontline teams. Part of this involves access to major company updates and information, which email doesn’t necessarily provide them with.
Meanwhile, office-based employees receive so much information over email that there’s often a case of information overload, meaning important updates get lost among a mass of back-and-forth communication.
So, if you’re relying on email newsletters as your main communication platform, it might be time for a rethink.
There are a range of internal communication tools that could serve your needs better. Mobile-friendly instant messaging apps like Slack, for example, make day-to-day employee communication significantly easier and declutter inboxes.
Collaborative mobile intranets can notify every single employee of important updates instantly thanks to push notifications. They also provide an accessible, social media style approach which employees can engage with easily, whilst making connections across the business.
2. Set goals for your internal communication strategy
Many companies dismiss internal communications as a cost centre, rather than seeing its true potential in creating an attractive company culture that draws in and retains top talent. This means that your internal communications efforts could be a major factor in maintaining your organisation’s competitive edge.
Organisations that leverage internal communications successfully look to continually improve and optimise their internal communication strategy. To do this, you’ll need to identify where you could be doing better and set measurable goals for improvement.
Employee feedback is a great source of information here. For example, you might find that recent employee engagement surveys suggest a lack of employee awareness of company values and major strategic objectives. So, setting yourself the goal of improving scores in this area by, for example, 10% on the next two employee engagement surveys, you could decide to:
- Publish more company news posts on your intranet
- Increase the visibility of senior leadership across the business
- Promote major charity drives more
3. Create a hierarchy for different communication types
Regular company announcements about changes to the organisation may be an internal communications best practice – however, not all announcements are created equal.
If you publish all announcements on your mobile intranet with push notifications, for example, you’ll overload your employees with information that isn’t directly relevant to them. Eventually, they will stop checking these updates because the vast majority don’t concern them.
To avoid this, segment your internal communication strategy into:
- Company-wide information: major company news, values or strategic objectives – for example, announcing an acquisition or changes to major HR processes
- Location-specific information: announcements affecting one workplace in a multi-site company – for example, building maintenance, closures or moves
- Department or function-level information: announcements mainly affecting one department – for example department-level promotions, replacement of department-specific software or new best practices related to a particular area
- Team-level information: day-to-day functional communications, like rota changes, cover for sick employees or internal project deadlines
From here, consider:
- Who is best placed to deliver the information?
- Which internal communications channel would be most effective?
You might decide, for example, that a major company-wide announcement should come directly from senior management as a pinned announcement on your intranet feed to emphasise its importance. Or you might feel that a department head is best placed to share new guidelines due to subject expertise – and that discussion via team instant messaging channels with subsequent in-person training is the way forward.
Choosing the right communications pathway ensures that all employees get the information that’s relevant to them, whilst major announcements cut through the noise and get noticed across the business.
4. Don’t ignore the feel-good factor
As well as sharing essential operational information and aligning everyone on key strategic objectives, your internal communication strategy should help your employees feel good about working for your organisation.
This is very easy to overlook, but it makes the world of difference to your employees. Recognising and publicising good performance, encouraging social bonds across the organisation and – sometimes – simply making your employees smile motivates your workforce and helps create a company culture that retains its talent.
This has never been more important, thanks to the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on workforces across the world.
Internal comms channels for social chat, pet pics, home-schooling tips and more have helped employees feel less isolated in times of great uncertainty and have also strengthened bonds between team members and across the organisation.
These support channels have played no small part in helping to increase employee engagement over the course of the pandemic.
A survey by Willis Towers Watson last year suggested that 90% of companies believed their culture had improved, 83% believed their employee experience was better, and 84% believed employee engagement had gone up since the onset of the pandemic.
A more human approach to internal communication strategy no doubt underpinned these findings – and is definitely something you should take forward as workplaces evolve in the pandemic’s aftermath.