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 individual 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 missing out on crucial office interactions. Each will require a very different approach to their internal communications.
This is particularly relevant in the current business climate. With the goalposts shifting almost daily, it’s vital to take an agile approach to your internal communication strategy. Ideas that would work excellently for a predominantly office-based workforce may need to be adapted for a working from home scenario. This is when you need to fall back on internal communications best practice to steer your decisions.
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 seven key internal communication best practices to give your strategy the greatest chance of success.
1. Ensure your messages reach every employee
It’s the critical element that underpins everything, and one of the essential best practices in employee communication. You need to be able to connect with every employee. 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. A 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 internal communications app, and you’ll be on the right track. With internal communications software, employees are given the opportunity to use their own smart devices to access company communications, instantly breaking down barriers of location and technology.
2. Draw up 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 to achieve them. The benefits of good internal communication are undeniable. It will help your business weather times of crisis, adapt to change and keep everyone on your side, whatever the state of play. 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 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?
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 provides a two-way exchange. This is especially relevant for dispersed workforces, with remote workers feeling increasingly disengaged from head office. When you give your workers a chance to provide feedback and offer suggestions, you give them a voice.
One of the best practices in internal communications 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. An internal communications app will 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 periods of silence, especially those working from home. According to research from Trade Press Services, 85% of employees say they’re most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news.
The internal communication best practice 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. Now, more than ever, our workforces are complaining of work stress and burnout; our aim should be to reduce this, rather than add to their burden.
Aim to keep messages simple, brief and to the point. It’s one of the crucial internal corporate communications best practices. 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 practices guide is to send the right information, to the right people, at the right time.
6. Maintain equality across your workforce
Employee equality may be a less obvious internal communications strategy best practice. It’s only when there is an imbalance that you start to realise its importance. Knowledge is power. If only a few employees are party to crucial information, problems soon begin to arise. The same applies to equality of voice; make sure everyone is given a chance to have their opinions heard. Maintaining equality is particularly vital when communicating change, as the rumour mill will soon start to get to work in the absence of proper communications.
Effective internal communication begins with the right channels. Provide robust communication channels, and you can be sure that every employee has equal access to information. And crucially, you’ll know that they are receiving this information at the same time. An employee app will allow you to send out push notifications that instantly notify the entire workforce simultaneously. It also provides a direct feedback channel, ensuring the employee voice is open to all.
7. 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 tracking your internal communications metrics 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 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 seven internal communications best practices will help to keep your strategy on track. Make sure these best practices in employee communication are in place, and you’ll connect your team and keep every employee engaged and motivated for success.