Internal communication is quite simply, the way that a company and its employees interact with each other. Whether it’s a Monday morning meeting, reading a poster on a wall or receiving an email, internal communications happen every day.
If it’s so easy for engagement to happen naturally in the workplace, why does any business need to put an internal communication strategy in place?
The main reason for this is because how well a message is communicated is just as important as the message itself. Chances are that you think long and hard before sending out a marketing campaign because you realise the importance of the manner in which you speak to customers. Your employees are no different and how you’re engaging with them can have a huge impact on the culture of your organisation.
Secondly, effective internal communication is vital to employee engagement and morale. Ultimately, it’s this which leads to a motivated, productive and loyal workforce.
With so many different internal communication channels to choose from in today’s globalised and high-tech workplace, however, how do you know which one to choose?
Sadly, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to this matter. After all, everyone consumes information differently and your chosen method will of course also depend on the size of your company. An app would be great for a huge business like Facebook for example whereas it’s unlikely to be worth the financial investment if you only have a couple employees.
To help you decide the best system for your organisation, below we have listed five top internal communication channels.
This one needs no introduction. Email is the simple, effective and obvious choice when it comes to communicating with employees. Yes, it’s overused and we spend much of our day trying to clear our inboxes but for startups and SMEs that don’t have stacks of cash to throw into their internal communication systems, it’s perfect.
The benefits of email:
- You can keep your communications as basic or elaborate as you wish. From plain text to video and templated emails, how creative you are with your messages is entirely up to you.
- A simple email takes seconds to write and send and can reach a huge audience at the click of a button.
- Everyone knows how email works – you don’t have to dedicate time to teach employees how to navigate complex systems.
- Employees have access to their inbox even when they’re working remotely.
- You have a permanent record of all communications sent out and you can even set up read receipts so you know when employees have read your email.
An intranet is a private network which is only accessible to your staff. With the ability to reach your entire workforce, it’s no surprise that 93% of organisations say they use theirs as a main channel of communication.
From sharing company information, centralising access to resources, directories and training materials to publishing news, blogs, forms and messages, an intranet provides a solid framework for all your communication needs.
The benefits of using an intranet:
- Think of your intranet as a website – anything your employees need to access is available to them at any time. Whether they want to read the latest blogs or download training material, everything has its own section and is easy to find. This reduces the time people waste trawling through emails, Word documents or databases trying to find what they’re looking for.
- With the ability to like and comment on posts, it encourages employees to communicate with each other. By prompting discussions, it can also help you to identify experts within the company who are happy to share their knowledge.
- If someone has a question, they can reach out to the whole company to ask. This will lead to a quicker response time compared to waiting for a specific individual to reply which means the person can get on with their work faster.
- In order to bring out the best in your employees, it’s important to create an environment where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions. While someone might not feel comfortable asking a question in a meeting or personally praising someone for a job well done, they’re more likely to comment on a post on an intranet. When we feel empowered to open up at work, we build stronger relationships with our colleagues – this fosters a deeper understanding of each other, builds trust and empowers individuals to contribute their full value.
Whether it’s in print or electronic form, employee newsletters can be an excellent and highly engaging internal communication channel. Just remember to have a good balance of business and social content and have a range of contributors to increase credibility and readership.
The benefits of employee newsletters:
- Rather than everyone sending random internal emails (which can easily get missed) every time something happens, sending out a newsletter every quarter for example, provides employees with the necessary information they need without inundating their inboxes.
- Employee newsletters can instil the desire to become more active in the company culture and work environment. The fact that their colleagues, superiors (and even friends and family if forwarded on) receive information about their achievements, can be a huge driver which leads to a more motivated and productive workforce.
- It’s inexpensive. Even if you want to get a bit more creative with your design and monitor open rates, sites like MailChimp are free. This is great for smaller organisations or those which don’t have a lot of money to spend on internal communications.
- The goals and visions of your organisation should be clear to everyone but instead of talking about them with individual teams of employees, use your newsletter to communicate them. This allows people to take enough time to think about them and even go over them again if needed.
Video is one of the most effective internal communication channels – especially when they’re carefully scripted, crafted and produced for a specific purpose. Internal or external, a video can communicate your message in an engaging, inspiring and memorable way. What’s more, people just love to share video content so you’re even working on your brand awareness at the same time.
The other great thing about video is that the complexity of them can vary depending on the resources you have available. You could do a simple photo collage with captions and music or you could go all out and have a professionally filmed creation.
The benefits of video:
- Because video can combine visuals with sound, it’s far more engaging which means that your employees are far more likely to open and respond to your communications.
- We’re all aware of how easily distracted we are these days. Chances are that the majority of us can’t even get through our favourite television show without picking up our phone and replying to a text or checking our social media. The beauty of video is that it allows you to get your point across in less time so you don’t lose your audience.
- Creating help and advice videos can save time in the long-run. Say a new employee needs help setting up a particular software system. Rather than emailing someone back and forth and sending across various screenshots, only to still be confused until someone physically comes over and helps them, a video allows you to perform this point-and-show manoeuvre without the need for an IT person to even be there.
- A platform like Vidyard GoVideo allows you to store your videos instantly and securely and you can even track when they’re being watched and who engaged with them.
An internal communications app is a platform for your employees to talk, share and communicate with each other beyond traditional channels such as the phone and email.
Enterprise communication apps which are dedicated to employee communications are on the rise and there’s a very good reason for this. They provide a fully customisable channel for delivering text, audio and video content to employees throughout the organisation. With staff able to access anything from news and blogs to notifications, executive updates and recognition, productivity is rising as a result.
The advantages of an internal communication app include:
- You can reach staff whether they’re in the office, working from home or sitting on a train.
- It facilitates group conversations and instant communication.
- You can ensure that all staff receive the same information and can access it whenever they need it.
- Processes such as requesting holiday leave can be centralised.
- You can reduce your carbon footprint. If all onboarding information is stored in the app and new starters can digitally sign any contracts, there’s no need to print out endless paperwork.
- They’re a great way to get employee feedback like in the example below. When it comes to more sensitive topics, it may help to make any responses anonymous.
While it may feel daunting getting started with your internal communications, it’s well worth investing the time and money into this area of your organisation. If done correctly, it will even pay for itself in time. After all, a more productive and engaged workforce can only lead to more customers, sales, and profits.
If you’re still unsure where to start, here are some of the top internal communication best practices for 2018.