According to an IBM study, 72% of employees don’t understand their business’ strategy.
Why? Many businesses focus their efforts on communicating their brand to the world. But fail to share their vision with the people who matter most: their people.
This can lead to a host of problems. From low productivity levels to a negative employee experience and increased staff turnover.
But what is internal communication? And how can you create an effective internal communications strategy?
In this post, we'll define internal communication and help you get your very own internal comms plan started with our 8 step starter guide!
Let’s dive in.
We all know the function of the marketing, sales or finance departments. But when it comes to internal communication, people are less clear.
So let’s start with a definition. What is internal communication?
Internal communication (singular) is how a business communicates with its employees.
The purpose is to inform and engage teams. To motivate employees to improve their performance and deliver on the business strategy.
Internal communications (plural) defines the tools, tactics and channels that enable that communication.
When defining internal communication, it can help to define what it’s not: external communication.
Let’s take a look at the key differences.
Now we know what internal communication(s) is, let’s explore the different IC channels.
Internal communication is the foundation of a healthy business. And it’s crucial to incorporate it into your overarching business strategy. Here's why:
According to a Bambu report, 80% of employees want to receive company updates. 77% said it would help them do their job and 66% said it helps build better relationships with colleagues.
Internal communication can increase employee's productivity by 20-25%, according to research by McKinsey.
This is because when employees feel involved and valued, they feel motivated to work harder. Helping the company achieve its business goals.
Company announcements, articles and messages influence how employees interpret the company culture. Which impacts how they talk about the company to other people.
An effective internal communication strategy inspires employees. By communicating how their roles are helping to achieve the company vision. It can also help to build a sense of community and togetherness around achievements.
Employees are more engaged when they know their role has a direct impact on the company’s success.
According to a Culture IQ report, companies with engaged employees perform 200% better.
Internal communication can facilitate feedback and discussion. So it’s important for businesses to use two-way channels, to give employees a voice.
Now we know what and why internal communications are important, we need to have a look at where these conversations are taking place so that you can decide which is the best one for your organisation.
Communication channels are the ways people connect with each other. Most businesses use digital communication channels, especially now more and more employees are working remotely.
Intranets are used to store company information, so employees can easily access company documents and policies.
It’s an effective channel for onboarding employees, sharing information, and facilitating two-way communications between management and staff.
However, company Intranets are static and someone has to regularly update it, which can lead to outdated content being referenced.
Emails are fast, instant, and can reach a wide audience.
Emails are an excellent channel for sharing company updates or for sending personalised messages to specific people, roles or departments as you can segment email lists.
Company newsletters, if done right, are also great for company-wide updates. You can celebrate wins, introduce new hires, or give business announcements via this channel.
The downside: it can be time-consuming.
If you're responsible for creating the weekly newsletter, don't fret, we've got you covered with our ready to use internal comms newsletter templates.
Private messaging apps—like Slack and Microsoft Teams—are great for team discussions and instant communication.
This channel is crucial for remote teams. Although private messaging platforms can be noisy and updates can go unseen. Arguably this channel is better for informal communication.
In-person team meetings are great for sharing big announcements or more sensitive information. This type of face-to-face communication is also great for giving employees recognition and rewards.
But this channel relies on teams being in the same place at the same time and that the message is communicated clearly.
Video software—like Zoom and Google Meets—has increased in popularity as more workers become remote.
Video software helps connect employees on a more personal level. Making this a good channel for social communication.
Video conferencing is perfect for hosting Town Hall meetings where employees are spread across multiple locations.
Surveys are a great way to facilitate employee to management communication. This type of communication is often the most difficult as people fear giving feedback to line managers. This makes employee surveys a valuable tool for companies when they are looking at how they can make improvements.
Now we can see why it's important to have a clear internal comms strategy. Let’s explore how you can create an effective plan for your business.
An internal communications plan defines your goals and sets out activities to achieve them.
It’s crucial, but according to research, 60% of employers don’t have a long-term internal communication plan.
Why? Many organisations don’t have the resources. Or an experienced team member to craft the strategy.
But, don't fret. Below we’ve listed some key steps to help you get started with creating an internal comms plan.
If you have an internal communication plan in place, you should already be evaluating its performance regularly.
If that's not always been the case, now is the perfect time to make this happen. Below are some examples of questions you should look at answering:
This will help you understand your current situation, what's working and what's not, so you can understand what needs to be improved.
If this is your first rodeo, head to the next step.
Now you need to think about what communication goals you want to achieve in the next 1-3 years.
The following questions can help you define your objectives:
Remember, your goals need to be SMART—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. For more information on how to set SMART internal comms goals, check out this blog from the team at Lumapps.
Once you’ve set your objectives and defined what a successful strategy looks like, you’ll need to figure out how to measure the effectiveness of your campaign. Here are some key metrics you might want to measure:
The metrics you use will depend on your internal communication goals, and the comms channels you are using. Discover more metrics here.
Multiple audiences can exist in a single organisation, each with their own goals, mindsets and ways of communicating. You need to figure out what messaging will work for each group, which channels to use, etc.
So you can deliver relevant information to the right people.
Once you’ve mapped out your audience, you can send targeted messages by segmenting your internal comms email list.
There are many ways to segment your list, for example, by department, location, skillset, etc.
But start simple, be clear on the core differences between each profile. For more on this, check out this thorough guide from the UK Government Communications Department.
How effectively you communicate a message is just as important as the message itself.
You need to be clear on the purpose of the communication and then determine which channel will help you achieve that.
Some questions to ask yourself:
It’s time to put your ideas down and start planning.
You’re plan should include everything we mentioned above, but here’s a quick roundup of what your internal comms plan should consist of:
We would also recommend to make sure that you are allowing space/room for things to have change at a moment's notice due to time sensitive comms needing to be sent.
The moment you’ve been waiting for, it’s time to put this plan into action. As we pointed out in step 6 - ensure you have the sign off of all relevant key stakeholders. A quick way to be ready to go is using existing branded images, colours and logos with copy in a handy to use pre built email newsletter template.
Here at Publicate we have already created a range of internal comms newsletter templates that are perfect for this very job. Best bit is no need for design or development resource!
This is a key step—you need to check the progress of your plan in relation to the SMART goals you set. To determine if your plan was effective, ask yourself these questions.
Getting feedback is also a necessary part of evaluating the progress of your plan. You could distribute a survey in your employee newsletter to get feedback.
Remember to not only share the feedback you received, but also what actions management have taken from the feedback they received. By doing this you will be showing employees that their views matter and that spending time to feedback is really valuable.
It’s safe to say that internal communication is an essential part of running a successful business.
An effective internal comms plan can help people feel engaged at work, and this high engagement leads to more productivity and profitability for businesses.
But to build a successful internal comms plan, you need to understand the following:
Make sure you evaluate your internal comms regularly, so you can see what's working, and where things are falling down or could be improved.
These are just the starting points to help you begin to reap the benefits of effective internal communication.