Take a look at any good business plan and you’ll see internal communications is right up there as a top priority. Now, more than ever, it is considered a critical business discipline. The recent pandemic has thrust the role of internal communications into the spotlight. It’s never been more important to connect effectively with employees. In fact, a survey by the Institute of Internal Communication revealed that 90% of respondents said that the pandemic will have a positive or very positive impact on the internal comms profession.
But what is the importance of internal communication and why is it grabbing the CEO’s attention? The fact is, the benefits of good internal communication can’t be overstated. The effects are both powerful and far-reaching, influencing almost every aspect of your business. When your focus is firmly set on how to improve internal communication, you can’t fail to see results.
A strong internal communication strategy will have an immediate impact on your employees. You’ll find they work with greater motivation, taking ownership of projects and coming forward with ideas and suggestions. Staff turnover will be reduced, and new hires will onboard more smoothly. Moreover, you’ll find the workplace is infused with a new sense of purpose and enthusiasm. This is vital for employee satisfaction. A global survey of LinkedIn members revealed that 73% of millennials are looking for a career where they feel their jobs have purpose and meaning.
When you address the issue of improving internal communications in the workplace, you’ll find the benefits stretch well beyond employee happiness. A survey by Tower Watson showed that businesses with effective internal communication practices deliver 47% higher returns to their shareholders in comparison to organisations with poor internal communications. Engaged employees work with greater productivity, which in turn gives a boost to your profit margins. Customers are retained, healthcare costs decrease and even your brand image is improved. It’s an all-round win.
In this blog, we identify 12 easy-to-implement ways to improve internal communication. Build these elements into your internal communications plan, and you’ll soon be enjoying the many diverse benefits to your business.
12 Initiatives to Improve Internal Communication
#1 Reach every employee
This is easier said than done, especially when you have a remote workforce to contend with. Yes, it’s simple enough to send a company-wide email to everyone in your workforce. However, ensuring that email is opened, read and understood is a different matter altogether.
In every organisation, there will be a small group of employees who are not receiving the efforts of the internal communications department. These hard-to-reach employees slip through the net for a variety of reasons. Some may be remote; working from home or on the move. Others will not have access to the necessary technology. And there will be some who are just sitting across the desk from you but are still not engaging with the messages being issued.
Ultimately, what makes an employee inaccessible is not down to their location or role. It’s all about the internal communications channels they have access to. If they are not connected to a shared two-way channel, you’ll find it almost impossible to engage with them. An internal communications app solves these issues. By allowing employees to connect to your internal communication software using their own devices, you’ll be opening up the access channels and information can start to flow smoothly in both directions.
- It’s essential to reach every single employee
- Remote workers can often fall out of the loop
- Let staff choose their favourite means of communication
#2 Use the right channels
One of the key factors, when you are working on improving internal communication in the workplace, is to select the right communication channel. Because, when it comes to internal communication, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it.
When faced with a huge selection of internal communication channels, it can be hard to know which one to choose. Should you create a new web-page on the employee intranet, send out a company-wide email, film the CEO or organise a company conference? With so many options at your fingertips, it can be a challenging decision.
This is when an internal communication app comes into its own. It offers a range of channels and tools and essentially covers all bases. As one of the most effective internal communication tools at your disposal, it allows you to personalise your approach by offering channels to match individual preferences. The best apps offer the ability to share news, gather feedback and support two-way communication, especially with remote workers.
- How a message is transmitted is as important as the message itself
- Providing a choice of channels will break down barriers
- Employee apps offer a personalised experience
#3 Engage not announce
Although many of your internal communications will be announcing news, events and successes, your aim is to ensure that your audience also has the opportunity to respond to these messages.
One of the common internal communication mistakes is to deliver a is a one-way information stream. Leaders deliver organisational information, expect it to be read and understood and leave it at that. However, what you need to deliver is a vital two-way dialogue between leaders and employees.
To drive engagement, you need to offer up opportunities for staff to give feedback and discussion. Encourage staff to get involved by enriching your information with real-time updates and clickable posts. Encourage participation by inviting responses and opening up new opportunities to interact. This simple but vital step is one of the prime ways to improve internal communications.
- Avoid one-way communication streams
- Enrich information by inviting participation
- Encourage feedback and two-way dialogues
#4 Lead by example
Leaders and their senior management team have a big role to play in internal communications. They are responsible for setting the tone of the organisation. It is senior management’s role to convey the company values and beliefs in a positive light. This is especially crucial in turbulent times when staff are looking for reassurance.
Leaders also need to set an example for internal communication best practices. Information needs to be shared, two-way dialogues need to be opened between teams and individuals and regular feedback needs to be provided.
Ultimately, if you want your employees to communicate effectively, make sure your leaders are doing it too. When you are considering how to improve internal communications, one of the best things you can do is lead by example.
- If you want staff to communicate, make sure leaders do it first
- Ensure the management team are on board with your strategy
- Make sure managers share information and give answers
#5 Make goals public
A simple way to improve internal communication is to ensure that employees are fully aware of the bigger picture. Once your staff understand your vision for the company and how they fit into it, you will see an immediate uplift in engagement.
A statement of core values and a clearly communicated overall vision gives employees a sense of drive and purpose. This is particularly important when you are communicating change. If your staff understand your aims, they feel more motivated to pull together and deliver results.
Don’t just stop at company goals. Include team goals and personal targets as well. By making your goals visible, you will make your employees’ work easier and more meaningful.
- Publish company, team and personal goals
- Communicate your overall vision for the company
- Make staff feel part of something bigger
#6 Keep it simple
Beware of overloading employees with complex and extensive information. Your job is to carefully curate and condense your messages into what’s absolutely necessary. Effective communication in the workplace relies on clarity.
When you’re crafting a communication, keep it simple, brief and to the point. Make sure it’s interesting too. If you want to connect with your employees, you need to grab and hold, their attention. When your aim is improving internal communication, never forget that your messages have to be easy to understand and relevant to your audience. Your communications need to connect on an individual level. This is true for both internal and external communication.
The best practice is to send the right information, to the right people, at the right time. You also need to consider whether you’re sending the right amount of information. When it comes to the internal communication process, less is more.
- Simple, straightforward language is always the best option
- Reduce the amount and complexity of the information you send out
- Make sure the messages are targeted at your audience
#7 Stick to a schedule
Your employee communication should always be regular, scheduled and meticulously planned in advance. The role of internal communication is to deliver a consistent pace of messaging to sustain regular contact with your employees.
When your internal communications become erratic and unpredictable, you will find engagement levels tend to plummet. Employees will soon feel forgotten if a previously regular communication channel is no longer populated with new information. This is especially true for remote workers, who rely on regular updates to keep connected to their work.
An internal communications app will give you the tools to schedule all your regular communications: send out notifications of upcoming events, conduct routine checks and surveys and release daily updates. With minimal effort, you can deliver a constant stream of information to your workforce.
- Maintain a consistent information stream
- Avoid big information blasts followed by times of silence
- Pre-schedule messaging via internal communications software
#8 Reward and recognise
Looking for a simple way to go about improving communication in the workplace? Try being generous with your public praise and recognition.
If you allow hard work to go unnoticed, you may find your employees stop delivering to the same level. There is also the knock-on effect to consider. When staff witness a colleague receiving rewards or appreciation, it has two consequences. Firstly, they feel motivated to seek out praise for themselves. And secondly, they view the organization in a more positive light, viewing the company culture as supportive and encouraging.
Book a demo to see how internal communications software can help increase staff motivation and productivity. From simple techniques such as tagging employees in connection to projects to social tools and peer-to-peer recognition modules, a positive company culture becomes easy to cultivate.
- Always recognise and praise success publicly
- Build a supportive and appreciative company culture
- Include employee tagging and social tools to celebrate success
#9 Encourage open dialogue
‘Open dialogue’ is a popular buzzword right now. It’s one of the key internal communication trends of the moment. But what does it actually mean?
Open dialogue is all about recognising that internal communication isn’t a one-way street. Good employee communication flows both ways. So, it’s not just about giving feedback to your employees. You need them to give you feedback too.
The only way to encourage an open dialogue to happen is to create a culture of trust and candour. Set up internal communication tools that ask for comments and opinions. An internal communications app will allow you to create polls and surveys, along with groups and chats to open up discussion and comment.
- Open dialogue is communication that flows both ways
- Develop a culture of trust and openness
- Open up channels for feedback and comment
#10 Listen and act
So, you’ve set up your surveys, you’ve collated opinions and you’ve facilitated discussions. All well and good. But when you’re looking to improve internal communication, you can’t stop there. You need to listen to what has been said. And you need to act on it.
Research from Gallup reveals that only 30% of employees feel that their voice is heard. At the heart of employee engagement is the feeling of inclusion. Quite simply, listening shows you care.
When staff initiatives and suggestions are followed through and make it into company policy, this is something you need to publicise widely. This will promote a company ethos of innovation and continuous improvement. Moreover, it encourages employees to continue contributing to the overall success of your business.
- Don’t forget to listen to your feedback
- Publicise all employee-led initiatives
- Encourage and reward innovation
#11 Measure your success
All effective strategies have one thing in common; they focus heavily on internal communications metrics. You need to identify your priorities and carefully monitor whether your employee communication is delivering.
Each organisation will have a different measure of success. For some it will be managing a period of transition, for others, it will be increasing profitability or reducing staff turnover. Whatever your business goals, you will need to analyse how effectively your strategy is meeting these aims.
An internal communications app makes it easy for you to continually evaluate the success of your communications. Built-in reporting provides a detailed analysis of performance levels, while dashboards give you an instant snapshot of your audience and how they are interacting. It’s the final crucial step.
- Set your targets and track your progress
- Keep a close eye on engagement levels
- Detailed reporting is essential to improve internal communications
#12 Prepare for a crisis
In the Spring of 2020, it’s fair to say no one was prepared for what was coming next. We had no choice but to react to the sudden change in circumstances and think on our feet.
But now we have a chance to put some planning in place. There is always something unexpected lurking around the corner, whether it’s economic uncertainty, new competitors on the scene, or (hopefully not) another world-wide crisis. It’s time to put clear remote-working policies in place, run training sessions on new software platforms, and ensure our IT solutions are ready to go.
What’s needed is a defined internal communication strategy that will guide you to success, however choppy the waters. Will you need your staff to accommodate new working practices? Will you be implementing IT adjustments? Will they need to pull together as a team? Now is the time to think ahead and draw up your plans. There’s never been a better time to improve internal communication.
- Draw up strategies for potentially difficult situations
- Make sure you have the resources on board and ready to go
- Ensure your strategy connects everyone in the organisation