Looking For Your Internal Communication Strategy To Improve The Bottom Line? Start With These Tools & Best Practiceson 11 December 2018
Every organisation handles internal communication differently. Some develop a robust internal communication strategy while others just wing it.
In this guide, we cover internal communication best practices and tools to inform your strategic planning. Whether you work for a large, small, or mid-sized organisation, the knowledge below is sure to help you step up your internal business communication.
Table of Contents
What is internal communication?
There’s no single internal communication definition everyone agrees on, so we asked several experts to define the term in their own words. Their perspectives differ, but they all have “people” as the main focus.
“Internal communication is the dissemination of information between members of an organisation.”
—David Reischer, CEO of LegalAdvice.com
“Internal communication is the formal and informal transference of information within a business, and the ongoing conversation that is shaping the internal narrative of the organisation’s current reality.”
—Glenn Gutek, CEO at Awake Consulting
“Internal communication is building a culture of dialogue among employees.”
—Gregory Golinski, Head of Digital Marketing at YourParkingSpace
“Internal communication is the discipline of creating a meaningful and actionable connection with your most valued assets—your employees. It is a critical business function that lays the foundation for a healthy, aligned organisation.”
—Robyn Hannah, Senior Director of Global Communication at Dynamic Signal
These definitions underscore the importance of putting time and effort into your internal communication strategy. Your workforce supports your organisation. You must support them in return to get the most from them—in terms of engagement, productivity, and more. (Tweet This!) It’s how you realise a better bottom line.
Internal Communication Best Practices
1. Keep communications brief.
Today, people inherently have a short attention span, and employees are no exception. Lengthy memos, emails, and the like will either be skimmed or not read at all. “That defeats the purpose,” warns Reischer. “Brief and precise communications improve chances of employees absorbing your shared information and allow for targeted responses that improve productivity and speed.”
2. Celebrate employees’ successes.
Everyone loves a good win, especially when you know others value your contributions. In fact, a 2011 study by an independent research firm found that 77% of employees were willing to work harder if they were appreciated. This benefits both employees and the organisation.
“Most employees are motivated when they receive acknowledgement and are rewarded with positive feedback. It’s important to always remember that an organisation is made up of people. Enabling the exchange of feedback results in a more motivated workforce,” Reischer advises.
Organisations can acknowledge employees both privately and publicly. For example, a company- or department-wide announcement about an employee’s success could be supplemented by a brief, one-on-one meeting between the employee and their manager.
3. Choose communication methods that work best for your employees.
All organisations are not created equal. There are a myriad of different environments where employees may perform their job duties, and they require different methods of communication. Mike Driehorst, a communications consultant, shares an example that highlights such a distinction:
“How internal communication within a business works varies greatly [depending] on where your employees are physically located. You need to go to them. The typical choice is digital, but depending on the type and size of your company, not all employees will have regular electronic access to things like email or company software. For a large manufacturer, for example, you have to rely on methods like bulletin boards or pre-shift meetings to communicate key information.”
4. Maintain consistent branding and messaging.
Marketers know how important it is to present a consistent picture of your organisation to customers. The same goes for your employees. Your initial thought may be to just disseminate information and share updates with employees without regard to what those communications look like or how they read. But you need to give the same diligence to internal communications as you do to customer-facing ones.
Driehorst calls out the fact that inconsistent messaging can lead to confusion and misunderstandings among employees. “It’s a fairly simple concept but one that is hard for organisations to put into practice. I say don't overthink it, but do make sure all messages have a consistent look and feel.”
5. Ensure there’s a feedback channel for internal employee communications.
Even the best communication professionals can miss the mark sometimes. That’s why one of the most important types of internal communication channels is one for feedback. Employees need to have a way to provide feedback on the methods in which they are receiving information from the organisation. As Driehorst clarifies, “This isn’t for organisational issues but how communications are being received. Internal communications pros can get myopic in their work. Being open to feedback from your employees is key to staying grounded and effective in your communications.”
6. Encourage open dialogue across the organisation.
This stems back to the culture of the organisation, which typically starts at the top. “Encourage leaders to facilitate open discussions, with a focus on collaboratively achieving the best possible outcome for the issue at hand,” shares Faith Kubicki, content marketing manager at IntelliChief.
When employees are free to ask questions and comment without fear of criticism, both they and the organisation benefit. Nate Masterson, CEO at Maple Holistics, explains why. “When a worker is stuck on something and doesn’t feel like they can ask for help, they'll spend more time trying to figure it out than needed, making them less productive. This could also lead to a bigger mistake if they go down the wrong path. Tangentially, employees’ unrestricted questions or comments can lead to greater innovation across the company.”
Internal Communication Tools
For an internal communication strategy to be effective, it must be supported by the right tools. There are a number of these available on the market, all with differing features. Reischer notes a few example features that hold particular significance:
- Segmentation and targeting capabilities for getting specific messages to only the most relevant people
- Allowance for publishing different types of content, not just plain text, for communication flexibility
- Ability to highlight items of significance to ensure the most important information doesn’t get lost
Here are a few tools that help with internal communication in their own ways, some with one or more of these features and others that offer complementary features.
Slack is a cloud-based communication platform used by organisations of all sizes.
“As one of our team’s favorite internal business communication tools, Slack is particularly effective for team bonding and engagement, especially since we can create separate channels for different purposes. For example, our main channel is used to share information for the whole company to see. The marketing team shares the latest media coverage we've received. The developers share news about system updates, new features, and future product plans. The sales team lets us know about big brands that have signed up. The support team shares customer reviews and feedback.”
—Louisa McGrath, Content Manager at Rebrandly
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Asana is a project management platform for organising, tracking, and managing work, which is often an essential part of keeping up with internal communication efforts.
“Asana helps manage our work-related tasks. It's important to keep things as simple as possible so that employees don't get distracted and information doesn't get accidentally overlooked. We have found that using this tool provides enough range so that internal communication and to-dos can be easily categorised without anyone feeling overwhelmed. This way, we're able to increase our productivity and engagement.”
—Bea Tanese, Media Outreach Specialist at ShipMonk
Glasscubes is a collaboration platform that features a secure hub of online, customisable workspaces, along with file sharing, project management, and intranet/extranet capabilities.
“Glasscubes allows our Board and Council members to quickly find documents, past papers, and conversations from a centralised area without having to search through their emails. With limited time for face-to-face meetings, the group can enter into discussion both beforehand and afterwards online. Glasscubes [...] also has a great poll feature for capturing feedback and consensus of opinion across the group. It’s a great tool to support any Board, Committee, or Councils activities.”
—Claire Bloomer, HR Director at Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Hootsuite Amplify is a social app that enables the finding and sharing of news and other content about an organisation, with the ability to approve content for employees to share personally.
“We use Amplify to give all internal employees access to approved content and news regarding the company. From the app, employees can share the communication on their personal/professional social media platforms. This helps them stay informed on internal company news, and also gives them the opportunity to share externally to extend our reach.”
—Alaina Anderson, Communication Specialist at Combined Insurance
The same tool you use for internal communications can also be used for other areas. Try Glasscubes.
Glasscubes is an all-in-one collaboration platform that not only makes internal communication a breeze but also supports efforts that feed into it, like file sharing and project management. Share files containing important announcements with just a few people or all employees. Did a recent company policy change requiring employees to take action? Assign the task in Glasscubes and track completion. Need different digital areas for each department or business line? Set up customised workspaces to suit each department’s needs.
Get the comprehensive SaaS solution that fully enables internal communication and the efforts that support it. Start your free trial today.