Your internal communications strategy defines how you engage your employees to help you meet your business goals. It provides your workers with the tools they need so they can play their part in meeting these objectives, while feeling invested and valued in the process. Keep reading to find out how to deliver this most effectively and to find an internal communications strategy example that can help inspire your employees and senior leaders.
Why Develop an Internal Communications Strategy?
The world is changing and organisations must keep up so they can address some of the most pressing human capital challenges:
- The increase of remote working, driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, means that workforces are more disparate
- Employees are taking the lead as they assess their work lives. 40% of employees around the world are looking to change their employer this year, according to Deloitte
- Whilst nearly three-quarters of employers rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important”, Queens University of Charlotte found that 39% of employees felt that there was not enough collaboration within their organisation.
An effective internal communications strategy provides the following benefits:
- Enables you to develop a coherent, strong internal communication policy that garners the sense of being part of a team and creating a shared goal.
- Helps avoid or minimise the talent drain and makes employees feel integral to the strategic goals of the company.
- Makes workers feel valued. Valued workers are more productive.
- Encourages everyone to work together, rather than simply creating a string of top-down demands.
- Creates a healthy feedback loop. Leaders are better informed about their employees and their strengths, weaknesses, hopes and fears.
- Allows managers to respond more quickly to events and even head off trouble before it occurs.
- Makes your workplace more agile because everyone is up to speed with the current projects. This means that they do not need to catch up when something goes wrong and can respond knowledgeably and swiftly.
- Increases employee buy-in. Your staff is confident that they can instigate and support changes, feel more connected to goals, and are more comfortable approaching leaders with issues and suggestions.
So, there are plenty of reasons to improve your internal communications. Let’s take a look at how you can do that.
Steps To a Better Internal Communications (IC) Strategy
Inspect your current IC practices
You should review and audit the strategy you have in place for employee engagement and find out where it is successful and where it needs improvement.
Is it focused on your business mission and goals?
Does it work for the structure of your organisation?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you develop a new strategy to be more effective and efficient.
Understand your internal audience
Your new strategy must work for the people you have in place in your team, the environment they work in and for the things that motivate them. This will be different for every organisation and it can even vary by event. For example, you will have a broader audience when organising your company’s town hall meeting but a much smaller one when planning an internal training webinar for the finance department.
Whatever the case, you must consult with your employees when formulating your IC plan. It is not a case of one size fits all – you might need to use different forms of communication for different sections of your workforce.
Consider the ages of your employees, their locations, their outlook on the business and any other factors that could dictate the specific methods of communication to really engage them.
Set realistic objectives
You cannot run a successful internal communications programme without having clear goals in sight. Perhaps more importantly, they should be realistic goals, too. You can always set a new goal when you meet your original target, but you need to always be working towards something in order to best engage with employees and create that focus that you need.
Think about the value you want to add to the business and make sure it is clear why it is of benefit to achieve it. This will help employees understand the reasons for the goal and how they can help achieve it and get behind the internal communication strategy.
Select your internal communication channels
Once you know what you want to achieve with your policy, you have to decide how to communicate with your employees. This might include a staff intranet, social media, messaging apps like Slack, newsletters or any manner of other tools used in combination.
Regular meetings are advisable, as that gives leaders the opportunity to talk directly to staff and answer their questions.
Right now, it may be difficult to schedule all-hands meetings due to flexible working, remote working and employees based in different countries and timezones, but video conferencing can help.
If you need a reliable, professional video conferencing and webcasting platform for your company, try Company Webcast. It provides a secure and stable environment for multi-department meetings and management updates that everyone can join, wherever they are.
Timing is key when distributing messages to employees. If the communication reaches them during a busy time, it can get lost in the noise of the situation. Similarly, sending out a message last thing on a Friday afternoon runs the risk of being ignored or missed as colleagues wrap up and leave for the weekend.
Scheduling communication in advance allows you to pick the right moment and follow up in good time if you do not receive the replies you desire. You can also gather data on open rates and responses in order to help plan the best time to communicate.
Still, keep in mind that much of your internal comms should be based on context. Sending a message about something relatively innocuous like a staff drinks night when everyone is doubling down to hit a hard deadline is unlikely to be effective, for example.
Create a template
Create a template to help you plot your employee communication efforts or download an example from the internet. This resource will help you visualise your internal communication strategy to take you from your current situation to where you and your key stakeholders want to be by acting as a roadmap.
Measure your progress
You can measure the progress you make with your strategy using a variety of metrics. These include page views on intranet articles, open rates on emails and engagement statistics from Company Webcast’s webinar tools, such as polls and questions. If you track these over time, you can work out whether you have succeeded in your efforts to engage employees.
As well as this quantitative data, seek out qualitative data from focus groups with employees to find out about their experiences and the things you can do to improve your engagement with them. These insights are invaluable for your internal communications!
Best Practices for Internal Communications
Make it a dialogue
Engagement is a two-way street. If employees don’t feel heard, they will not buy in to your strategy and your goals. Encourage participation, suggestions, comments, questions and more. If staff members don’t understand something, the messaging needs tweaking, but you don’t know that until you invite feedback from stakeholders.
Check in on employees
Leaders should make sure they meet regularly with employees to discuss the goals and targets of the coming months. This keeps everyone in the loop and working to the same end. It shows that management is keen to work with employees, rather than impose tasks without explanation or reason.
Keep it simple
There is probably a lot you would love to say to your employees, but the skill is in distilling this into messaging that is as simple as possible. Too many internal messages, combined with external emails, can overload employees and distract them from their work.
Leave breathing space between messages to allow employees to digest and process the information, especially if any of it requires action on their behalf.
Knowledge is power, as they say, and it can certainly be powerful in an internal communication strategy. Knowledge sparks conversations and ideas, it engages employees who feel valued as they have been given access to valuable information. If exciting things are happening, tell your employees about that. They might be able to add suggestions that take your internal comms to the next level.
Share good news
Good news can improve morale and foster that sense of team bonding. If everyone is working towards a common goal, they can share the enjoyment when something goes right. As long as you are certain it is good news for everyone, communicating your wins is a powerful move.
Recognise employees and teams
Everyone likes receiving praise for their achievements, so shout about them. Give other teams the chance to congratulate individuals or departments on a job well done. Talk about these successes and make your employees feel valued. It doesn’t even have to be work-related! You can highlight the successes that team members have achieved in all manner of fields.
Encourage communication between departments
Internal communication is not just a top-down or bottom-up process, it should also work across departments. The more each department knows about the others, the better it will be able to direct queries and find solutions. Companies work better when there is an understanding across departments and good internal communication.
Make it visual
Visual media, such as images and videos, are proven to be more effective than text. Hubspot reports that 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than text.
In addition, Marketing Sherpa explains that videos can increase visitor numbers to websites by two or three times and that they double the length of time that people spend on those pages. This shows the power video has when it comes to increasing visibility and engagement, which is another reason to use Company Webcast for your communications.
Examples of internal communication strategies
Here are some examples of effective communication strategies:
|KLM||To keep employees up-to-date||Multiple internal webinars to keep employees up-to-date on all happenings within the company. Not only is the CEO (Pieter Elbers) more visible and involved within KLM. Read the full client case here.|
|MHS Homes (estate agent)||To promote a new intranet||Used information from registered users to create posters featuring fun facts about staff members. Other employees had to sign up and fill in their profile details to guess the identity of the featured team members, leading to 85% of active users on the intranet.|
|Nationwide Building Society||To renew the company’s sense of purpose||Talk back events and pulse surveys garnered employee feedback and resulted in marketing the business as a company that improves the quality of people’s lives, using the slogan “building society, nationwide”.|
Your employees are integral to the success of your business. They need to buy into your goals and plan in order to help you carry them out. They act as advocates for your organisation and its company culture, so making sure they feel valued and a part of the success story of the business is important. Involving workers keeps them engaged and motivated, not to mention productive, too.
In order to harness this power, you need to converse with them, talk to them, listen to them and work together. Take a look at the internal communication strategy examples above to discover how businesses have successfully worked with their staff to drive success.
Finally, using webinars and other video communications is an effective way to engage with your employees. If you want to improve this aspect of your internal communications, we invite you to try Company Webcast. Our platform is trusted by leading companies such as Heineken, KPMG and Siemens.
References and Further Reading
- How to organise company town hall meetings
- Reasons to improve internal communication
- Epicom internal communication study
- Benefits of webinars
- Webinar checklist