When it comes to internal communications, there’s no single approach that works for every business. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Every organisation has its own unique structure, culture and goals, and therefore requires its own unique internal communication plan. Some companies will be focused on implementing change, others will be looking to improve internal communication across divisions, and others will be trying to connect with remote workers who are missing out on crucial office interactions. Each will require a very different approach to their employee communication.
However, just because there isn’t a single answer to maximise employee engagement, it doesn’t mean there aren’t tried-and-trusted guidelines to consider. We have identified the six key internal communication best practices that will give your strategy the greatest chance of success.
1. Start with an internal communication strategy
Why is it considered an internal communications best practice to draw up an internal communication strategy? Quite simply, it’s the blueprint steering you towards success. An effective plan will help you define your business goals and identifies the activities you’ll need to put in place in order to achieve them. The benefits of good internal communication are undeniable. With a strong strategy in place, you’re guaranteed to see an improvement in staff loyalty, motivation and productivity.
You’ll need to ask yourself five crucial questions in order to define the parameters of your plan. The perfect internal communications plan will look different for every organisation, but these questions will put you well on your way to creating a strategy that works for your business:
- What is your overall business or project goal?
- Who are your communications aimed at?
- What are you actually asking people to engage with?
- When are you sending your messages, and how often?
- Which channel will work best for the content and audience?
2. Ensure your messages reach every employee
Naturally, you hope your communications are being received by everyone. But all too often, this isn’t the case. One of the common internal communication mistakes is failing to identify all subsets of your workforce. Large number of employees can slip through the net; remote workers, furloughed staff, those not up to speed with technology. Without a regular flow of information and interaction, these workers can quickly become disengaged.
You’ll need to install extremely robust internal communication channels if you’re aiming to reach every single employee. Give everyone access to an employee engagement app and you’ll be on the right track. With an internal communication platform, employees are given the opportunity to use their own smart devices to access company communications, instantly breaking down barriers of location and technology.
3. Create a two-way channel for feedback
Give your employees a say and you’ll reap the rewards. Many internal communications strategies place too much focus on disseminating instructions from the leadership team. These methods of internal communication only offer a one-way flow of information, denying your employees an opportunity to make themselves heard. Effective internal communication offers a two-way exchange. When you give your workers a chance to provide feedback and offer suggestions, you are giving them a voice.
The internal communications best practice is to find out what your employees are really thinking. Send out surveys and polls asking about job roles, company policies and working conditions to get the insider viewpoint. An internal communications survey will give you a good measure of the health of your company. Employee engagement apps include tools to schedule regular surveys, along with modules that offer social spaces for conversations, suggestions and feedback.
4. Maintain a regular stream of communication
A consistent stream of information will ensure you have an informed, engaged workforce. When communicating with employees, it is important to avoid a stop-start approach. Too often, the internal communications department will send out a flood of messages, followed by a long period of inactivity. This erratic contact can have the effect of lowering engagement levels as employees start to feel neglected during the periods of silence.
The key is to plan ahead. Consider plotting your schedule into a project tracker. It will help you to schedule all your regular messaging, along with upcoming events and breaking news. In addition, an internal communications app gives you the tools to pre-schedule your communications, giving you greater control over your planning. News modules send out daily updates via a newsfeed, while event modules notify staff of upcoming events. Informed employees are engaged employees.
5. Avoid communication overload and complexity
Yes, it’s vital to keep your communications regular and consistent. However, beware of overloading your employees with information. Research by the Harvard Business Review indicated that employees spend over two hours of the working day on email, and worse, it takes 24 minutes to get back on task after opening an email. With this in mind, it’s important to carefully curate and condense what you’re sending down to what is absolutely necessary.
Aim to keep messages simple, brief and to the point. In addition, if you want to really engage 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 interesting.
Your content needs to jump off the screen and connect with staff on an individual level.
The internal communications best practice is to send the right information, to the right people, at the right time.
6. Measure effectiveness and engagement levels
Of all the internal communication best practices, this one is absolutely crucial to the overall success of your strategy. After all, if you don’t measure uptake and engagement, how do you know if your messaging is working? Or even getting through in the first place? Only when you start measuring internal communications can you really adjust and improve your strategy to get the best results.
If you really want to keep your finger on the pulse of your strategy, consider an internal communication app. These employee engagement platforms are designed to carefully monitor and improve engagement levels. They offer real-time dashboards along with in-built reporting to make monitoring engagement a simple and painless process. Once you have a bird’s eye view of how well your teams and divisions are interacting with your communications and each other, you’ll be able to easily correct and improve participation.
While every organisation has different goals and requirements, these internal communications best practices will help to keep your strategy on track. Make sure these best practices are in place and you’ll connect your team and keep every employee engaged and motivated for success.