Most businesses place a high value on communication. Connecting with customers, networking with suppliers, broadcasting to the media – all of these interactions will be near the top of the priority list. But engaging with employees? Sadly, not so much. However, internal communications are just as critical to business success. In fact, the benefits of good internal communication are so transformational, they can make the difference between the overall success or failure of an organisation.
There are many reasons why around 60% of companies don’t have a long-term internal communications strategy in place. Often, there just hasn’t been time to invest in putting a strategy together. Or maybe it was put on the ‘to-do’ list but got pushed back and was eventually forgotten. Some companies explore options only to find they are prohibitively time-consuming or expensive. This doesn’t have to be the case, especially as the latest internal communications apps are both cost-effective and simple to implement.
Here at Talkfreely, we have identified the 10 benefits of internal communication within an organisation. Done well, employee communication can change the way people think and act, setting your business on an entirely new trajectory. So, the next time your director asks “why should we bother with internal communications?”, you’ll know exactly how to answer.
The Benefit: Employees who feel valued and motivated
Everyone knows that you want employees to feel engaged if you’re going to get the best from them. But how is this actually achieved?
Although ‘engaging’ seems very similar to ‘communicating’, there is actually a world of difference between the two. Too often, there is a one-way information stream in place where leaders deliver organisational information. However, what an internal communications strategy will deliver is that vital two-way dialogue between leaders and employees. This reciprocal flow of information is one of the key internal communication best practices that should never be overlooked.
To drive engagement, leaders need to show that they value feedback and discussion. Likewise, employees will need evidence that their voice is being heard. Then, you’ll have a workforce of highly engaged staff who know their views count. When it comes to improving internal communications, you’ll find that actively engaging your employees has a powerful effect on attitudes and productivity levels.
The Benefit: Employees who feel loyalty and personal involvement
One of the significant benefits of employee communication is its positive effect on staff retention. Retention is becoming more and more of a challenge for employers. In fact, 67% of employers in the UK now admit they find it difficult to retain staff. In addition, research shows that the cost to replace a highly trained employee can exceed 200% of their annual salary. The economic benefits of retention are clear to see.
Effective internal communication is the answer. Studies show that retention levels could be 44% higher through good communication. Ultimately, employees who don’t feel engaged or involved tend to disconnect. Of all the types of internal communication that should be prioritised, ensuring that staff feel well-informed should be top of your list.
With a solid internal communications guide in place, you can make sure that employees at every level of the organisation feel like they’re ‘in the know’. You’re aiming for employees to feel like insiders who know almost as much about their employer as top decision makers within the organisation.
The Benefit: Employees contributing to the success of the business
Innovation is vital to the success of your organisation. When your employees are proactive in suggesting new initiatives, it has a dramatic effect on your business outcomes. Efficiency is improved, the quality of work takes an upturn and your customer base increases. In almost every internal communication definition, innovation plays a crucial role.
Innovation doesn’t just come from the top down. Quite often, it’s staff on the shop floor who come up with some of the most ground-breaking ideas. They just need an opportunity to make their voice heard.
With a good strategy, you’ll have internal communication channels in place that allow employees to contribute their own ideas. When good feedback channels are made available, you’ll find employees are more than willing to offer suggestions and improvements. And once they start driving change and make it their own, you’ll also benefit from an uplift in engagement levels.
The Benefit: Leaders who are actively involved and easy to approach
Not all senior manager are natural communicators. They may be excellent at strategy, or analysing a spreadsheet, but that doesn’t mean they will easily disseminate information to staff in a way that resonates. In fact, a leader who is poor at communicating can actually do more harm than good. It’s one of the common internal communication mistakes.
An internal communication plan will put channels in place to facilitate this essential interaction. It’s vital for employees to see that all senior management are active, involved, approachable, and engaged.
By opening up the two-way dialogue, whether it’s via meetings, emails, or an internal communications app, you’ll be making your leaders accessible to everyone. Especially when it comes to communication in a crisis, a strong voice and sense of direction from the leadership team can make the difference between sink or swim.
The Benefit: A clear channel of communication that puts over the right message
Company strategy, vision and values need to be communicated in the right way. In fact, poorly delivered information can be the source of harmful rumour, creating an unproductive work environment and discord between teams. However, get it right and the internal communication benefits become transparently clear. When employees understand the overall vision and aims of the company, they are instantly more productive, motivated and ultimately, profitable.
All company messages need to be delivered by the correct internal communications channels to suit their audience. How effectively a message is communicated is just as important as the message itself when it comes to understanding.
Alongside traditional channels such as emails, intranets and meetings, it’s worth considering an internal communications app. Often viewed as a super-channel for businesses, it offers a range of tools and channels accessed by a single device. Choose an app that offers the ability to share vital knowledge, gather feedback and deliver maximum clarity of message. When you’re trying to cover off all methods of internal communication, this is the simple, all-in-one solution.
The Benefit: Employees who can’t resist talking up their company
Your staff are your biggest, most influential brand ambassadors. In fact, customers see the voice of your employees as more important than the voice of your CEOs. An internal communications strategy will harness this power to your advantage. In almost all internal communication case studies, employee advocacy plays a major role in the success of the company.
Your strategy can directly influence the way employees will communicate to customers. Typically, employees will adopt and reflect the tone set by you. Plus, they add that extra level of credibility. What you’re looking for is employees who actively promote your company through a genuine belief in the products or services.
If you’re looking for internal communication ideas that really make a difference to your bottom line, this is one to add to your list. It’s particularly effective when things go wrong. In times of negative media attention when you need all hands-on deck to defend the organisation, your employees can make all the difference. An internal communications guide that encourages staff to project a positive external image is beyond value.
The Benefit: Employees who lead the change, rather than follow it
Change is an inevitable part of business today. However, it’s also fraught with problems. In fact, recent research by Gartner suggests that less than one in three planned changes take place successfully. When changes goes wrong, it can spell disaster for even the strongest organisation. Get your employee communication right at this crucial time, and the change could be the springboard for further success. The benefits of good internal communication are never more apparent than when the chips are down.
A strong internal communications strategy is needed more than ever during periods of change. You need to employ effective techniques for communicating change to combat employee stress and loss of productivity.
Strong, unambiguous internal communications at this crucial time will help reduce the tensions. It is also helpful to facilitate company conversations via peer-to-peer discussions and department meetings. The more your employees feel involved, the quicker they will adapt. An internal communications plan will ensure staff feel part of the change, not subject to it.
The Benefit: Employees who can work independently and effectively
When you allow staff to make their own decisions and choices, you are empowering them to become more effective employees. By implementing a culture of decision-making rather than rule-following, you are implicitly telling your staff that you trust them to get it right.
This is one of the examples of internal communication that offers huge benefits for both the employee, the team and the company as a whole. Employees become more accountable, knowing that their boss has confidence in their ability to succeed.
Instigating a culture of empowerment needs to come from the top. But that doesn’t mean that the internal communication of this missive is a one-way directive. An internal communications app offers the tools to help you to instil a positive culture of recognition and enablement via a range of two-way channels and social platforms.
The Benefit: Employees who work together productively as a team
A good company culture relies on internal communication, and vice versa. A company that has no secrets or hidden agendas will find that teamwork and collaboration occur naturally as part of the company culture. One of the key internal communication trends of 2020 is the move towards increased cooperation and communication across departments and divisions.
The benefits of collaboration are manifold. It boosts efficiency and problem solving, it opens channels of communication and brings workers closer together. It also allows employees to learn from each other; organically improving the knowledge base across the organisation.
If you’re looking for a simple way to introduce teamwork into your workplace, consider an internal communication platform. Built-in tools such as the conversation module allow you to create a social space where employees can meet, chat and share that vital information.
The Benefit: A company culture that naturally adheres to legal requirements
When it comes to legislation, internal communication is no longer a nice-to-have. Without a strong strategy in place, you are in danger of ending up on the wrong side of the law. Your internal communications strategy should always address your legal responsibilities as an employer. Ultimately, you are required by law to make sure your strategy is the best it can possibly be.
Especially in times of crisis, with the added complications of furloughed staff, remote workers and new health and safety issues, it is more crucial than ever to be legally irreproachable. The importance of internal communication is always highlighted when unexpected challenges arise.
Never forget, as an employer, there are responsibilities for your leaders to communicate effectively when it comes to legislation and employment law. Aspects such as health and safety must be communicated in a way that is clear, understandable and actionable. The benefits of internal communication are obvious: employees who are safe, informed and legally protected.