Success begins on the inside. While organisations often pay lavish attention to their external communications – marketing, public relations, stakeholders etc. – it is actually the strength of your internal communications that shapes your success. An effective internal communication plan will influence the behavior, attitude and understanding of the people working within your organisation. And it is those people who will determine the overall success or failure of your business vision.
So the question is… how to improve internal communication to get the maximum benefits for your business? The secret lies in your choice of internal communication platform. An efficient and flexible platform will ensure your messages reach across the entire organisation. It will help you to break down silos and overcome resistance, reinforcing employee engagement and improving knowledge levels. In this blog, we discuss and assess the various channels, tools and internal communication apps available to meet the needs of your employee communication.
What is internal communication?
It’s always helpful to clearly define exactly what is internal communication, and how it looks in best practice. The following definitions help to clarify the role it should play within your organisation:
“To help leaders inform and engage employees, in a way which motivates staff to maximize their performance and deliver the business strategy most effectively.”
Russell Grossman, Government Communication Service Head
It is clear that internal communication is more than simply sending out corporate data to your employees. It is a strategic service, responsible for informing, motivating and listening to your employees.
“Corporate level information provided to all employees and the concurrent provision of opportunities for all employees to have a say about important matters that is taken seriously by line managers and senior managers.”
Dr Kevin Ruck, Founder of PR Academy
This two-way communication stream is a vital element. As Fran Collingham, LGA Associate states, “Internal communication should be there to give honest feedback when others may not be brave enough to do it.” When it comes to communicating with employees, your aim should be to gather feedback as well as deliver information. Only then will you see a real uplift in employee engagement levels.
Why is internal communication important?
The importance of internal communication has been proven time and time again. Recent research by Melcrum shows that effective internal communication leads to a 40% uplift in customer satisfaction, a 30% growth in profits and a 36% increase in the overall performance of an organisation.
Your goal is to share information, build understanding and create excitement and commitment in your workforce. The benefits of good internal communication can be broken down simply into three key elements:
Strong internal communications provide workers with the facts, information and skills to help them do their job to the best of their ability.
An effective internal communication strategy will have a positive influence on attitudes. It will improve the way your employees think and feel about your organisation.
Given the right knowledge and attitude, your workforce will then act in a way that best benefits your company’s aims, targets and overall vision.
Choosing your communication channels
It’s time to ask whether your current internal communication channels are up to the task in hand? Do they really resonate and connect with your target audience? Furthermore, do they offer the reach? With modern workforces increasingly moving towards remote working, you can no longer just focus on the office-based staff, but also the home-workers, furloughed, contractors and job-sharers. And the final question to consider: do you know whether your internal communication tools are actually working? Without a way to monitor engagement levels, you’re really just shooting in the dark.
In order to assess whether your channels are working effectively, you need to consider whether they meet these three vital objectives: reach, engage and measure. Let’s take a closer look:
Your aim: Reach every employee and and create a real-time connection
With the modern workforce increasingly dispersed across geographical location, it becomes even more critical to reach every worker, wherever they are based. You also need to break down other barriers – technological and emotional – in order to reach every single employee in your organisation.
Your solution: Internal Communications App
An employee engagement platform enables you to connect with your employees on the devices they use every day. It operates as a type of super-channel for internal communication, bringing together all the channels into a single personalised platform. The best platforms even give you the ability to personalise the app with your own logo and colours.
Unlike an employee intranet which relies on employees logging into office devices, an internal communication app is cross-platform, accessible on the web or via Android and IOS Apps. The ability to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) allows access via company or personal devices. By allowing employees to select their favourite means of communication, it effectively breaks down barriers and dramatically increases reach across the organisation.
This personalised approach reaches employees in a way that traditional methods just can’t match. Print, such as company newsletters and magazines, needs to be physically delivered to reach its audience. Presentations and team meetings will never manage to connect with every employee, especially remote workers. And one of the reasons why intranets fail to engage employees is because they fail to effectively link up with a significant proportion of the workforce.
With an internal communications app, you can be sure you are connecting with employees wherever they are; at home, at work or on the move.
Your aim: Encourage staff to get involved and take action
The most effective internal communication strategy and action plan will focus on engaging with your employees. Rather than simply informing them, you are aiming to prompt them to take action. It should open up a free-flowing communication channel, encouraging feedback and response as well as imparting information.
Your solution: Internal Communications App
An employee engagement app takes a proactive approach to employee communications, offering a unique range of two-way tools to connect and engage. The app encourages participation by inviting responses and enriching information with real-time updates, multimedia and posts that promote clicks.
If you’re currently relying on emails to engage with your employees, think again. Email may the main channel for internal communications in the majority of workplaces. But is it effective? The fact is, ‘email overload’ is a real problem in the modern office. A report from the Radicati Group revealed that 126 emails are sent and received every day. And it’s no surprise that 20% of these are never even opened.
An internal communication platform will ensure your messages are both received and understood. An array of modules ensures participation and feedback; from social spaces where colleagues share information to communication hubs, polls and events channels to encourage company-wide participation.
In short, you no longer need to worry whether your messages are hitting their mark.
Your aim: Measure engagement levels and adjust your strategy to suit
One of the most common internal communication mistakes is the failure to measure the impact your messages are having on your audience. You need the ability to compare how teams and divisions are interacting and track engagement levels. Only then will you be able to act on the data you're seeing and quickly correct or improve participation. Measuring internal communications is the final vital piece of the puzzle.
Your solution: Internal Communications App
Most internal communications apps provide the tools to monitor participation and improve engagement. Real-time dashboards deliver an instant view of engagement levels, while built-in reporting tracks engagement and exports for external reports. You can also monitor the success of your roll-out, by closely monitoring onboarding rates as the app launches across the company.
This in-depth level of analysis simply isn’t accessible with more traditional internal communication channels. Emails are fired out across the company with no real way of tracking whether or not they have been received and understood. Social media may be great for encouraging information exchange, but without the ability to closely monitor exchanges, it can quickly become a liability.
Feedback is an essential element of any employee communication plan, and this is another area where an employee engagement platform really excels. They make it possible to really
keep your finger on the pulse of your company with ad-hoc polls to gauge opinions, preferences and points of view. Survey modules allow you download results from employee surveys for offline analysis and collation. You can even monitor your eNPS score and keep track of engagement levels.
When it comes to measurement, the internal communication app is a top performer, allowing you to track, evaluate and dig deeper into those essential details.
A word on operational apps
With the arrival of a new breed of operational apps, some confusion has arisen as how to how and when they should be implemented. While, on first inspection, they can seem quite similar to internal communication apps in their capabilities, they actually have a very different role to play.
Apps such as Slack and Microsoft Teams have been created to help employees get the day-to-day job done. Essentially built as a chat room for the company as whole, the operational app is designed to replace email as your primary channel of communication. It brings together global and remote teams into one common space, enabling the ability to work together and share information.
However, it is important to remember that these apps have not been built to support internal communication planning. As such, they fail to deliver in a number of crucial areas, including the inability to reach beyond desk-bound workers, no capacity to prioritise information and a lack of monitoring and measurement.
In contrast, an internal communications app has been designed to specifically support every element of your employee engagement plan. As an organisational tool, they have been constructed with a comprehensive set of features designed to help companies connect and engage with their staff. The app connects employees with your business, your leadership team and each other in a simple-to-implement software platform that can personalised to your unique requirements.
The question therefore, should not be whether you should use Slack or Microsoft Teams for internal communications. But whether your organisation would benefit from an operational app alongside your employee engagement platform.
The case for internal communication apps
A modern business needs a modern solution to internal communications. Quite simply, an employee engagement app will lift your communications to the next level. By focusing on the three critical elements of Reach, Engage and Measure, an app will help you deliver on all aspects of your internal communications strategy. Not only will you effortlessly reach every employee in your organisation, you’ll also find your messages are connecting and resonating with them in way that you never achieved before. And you’ll have the proof of your success at your fingertips, with reports and feedback to help you refine your strategy even further.