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 system will influence the behaviour, 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 software. 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.
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. Does your office internal communication software effectively communicate with your workforce? Does it really resonate and connect? Does it effectively convey essential operational and HR information? Furthermore, does it 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.
When it comes to choosing the best internal communication system, you need an all-in-one solution that seamlessly covers all these essentials. This is where the internal communications app emerges as a clear winner. We’re going to take a look at the six key benefits of internal communications apps, and how they will take your employee communication to the next level.
6 ways an internal communications app will transform your business
1. Improved connectivity
Key Benefit: Reach every employee 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.
An employee app 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.
2. Improved communication
Key Benefit: Provide an efficient flow of information on a regular basis
The communication of news, facts and information lies at the heart of every internal communication plan. Your aim is to deliver efficient, clear information on a consistent basis. By switching to the right internal communication software, you’ll be cutting through the noise and reaching employees directly.
Timing is everything in the world of internal communications. Fire out too many messages and your key intent will be lost in the general noise. Send out too little information and you’ll leave employees guessing. That’s when gossip and rumour start to flourish. Consistency and regularity of messaging is one of the key internal communication best practices you should never ignore.
An internal communications app allows you to schedule communications. Dedicated news feeds, event alerts and critical updates can all be programmed to send at pre-specified intervals. In addition, it allows you to circulate information across hierarchies, giving everyone the same message at the same time. This information equality is crucial when it comes to limiting the generation of rumour.
3. Improved engagement
Key Benefit: 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.
Effective communication in the workplace relies on two-way channels. Essentially, you need to give your workers a chance to speak out. This is where an internal communications app really comes into its own. It offers free-flowing feedback channels, inviting responses and opening up new opportunities to interact. The app encourages participation by inviting responses and enriching information with real-time updates, multimedia and posts that promote clicks.
The right internal communications software 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.
4. Improved operations
Key Benefit: Provide instant access to essential information
Policy and procedure may not be exciting to impart, but they are critical to the success of your operations. When health and safety is your top priority, you’ll need to ensure every employee is fully aware of the processes in place. Equally, when you’re communicating change, it’s vital that every worker is kept up-to-date with the latest changes in policy and procedure.
An internal communications app will make it simple to update employees with the latest policy changes. It allows you to gather all your information into an accessible central hub. You can use themed boards or dynamic pages to post policies, procedures, videos and essential documents. Create sub-hubs, set up private hubs, configure editing rights, limit content. In essence, you’ll keep full control of what is there and how it is managed.
The ability to control the flow of information is particularly useful where there are strong compliance requirements placed on employees to deliver the company's products and services. The app can act as a reminder or a guide to remind workers on what they must do. This especially relevant if they work remotely and have no other way of accessing organisational information.
When it comes to communication in a crisis situation, there’s nothing more important than having all the critical information in one place and instantly accessible. Your employees have the reassurance that everything they need to know is right there at their fingertips.
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 internal communications software.
5. Improved HR delivery
Key Benefit: Assist the HR function with automated processes
HR professionals know that effective internal communication channels are important to deliver on strategic goals such as increased employee engagement and motivation. Issues such as employee voice, performance, learning and development are key to a successful HR function.
An internal communications app offers a wide range of features that will assist in the HR delivery. Remote workers will benefit from self-service options such as booking annual leave or a place on internal training courses via their phones. This automation of basic processes takes the pressure off the HR department and allows them to concentrate on more pressing matters.
Recognition modules serve to create a positive culture of appreciation and improved performance. By allowing employees to celebrate success and recognise their peers, you’re instilling an understanding of company values. Equally, innovation modules promote learning and development. The app allows employees to put forward ideas and suggestions that address business challenges. It effectively captures ideas and manages the workflow of the implementation of the best suggestions.
An app also offers ample opportunity for feedback. Whether you’re implementing an internal communications survey or taking a quick job satisfaction poll, it’s giving employee that all important voice of their own.
6. Improved measurement
Key Benefit: 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.
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.
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.