When was the last time you paid close attention to the structure of internal communications within your business? After a 2018 Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. study found that over 60% of companies around today have nothing in the way of long-term internal communications strategies, we felt a little stunned at Note It. Our goal is to help as many businesses as possible to get the best from their employees, and we believe effective internal communications strategies are crucial in achieving this.
Here’s a quick guide to get you started.
What are internal communication strategies?
If you’ve not yet looked into internal communications, don’t fret; it’s not a particular difficult concept. Simply put, in the same way your company employs certain tactics when communicating externally with customers and clients, an internal strategy focuses on the flow of information between yourself, your management, and your employees.
This communication can of course be conducted in many different ways, with results varying accordingly.
Why you should be using internal communication strategies
Taking the same level of time and care to communicate with your workforce as you do with your customers is important for creating a conducive company atmosphere where each employee feels valued and part of the bigger picture. When you build bridges with your staff and focus on effective messaging, there’s a raft of improvements to be had, including increased employee engagement, advocacy and loyalty.
Moreover, effective communication is crucial to collaboration, innovation, and excellent customer service. A recent study by McKinsey.com found that productivity improves by as much as 25% in companies that have put in measures to ensure their employees are connected. It’s not rocket science as to why this is the case: in companies whose employees are kept in the know and feel interconnected with one another, a more united, consistent, effective front is presented outwards to the world and to customers at large. Whichever industry you work in, creating a smooth internal flow of information is of the utmost importance.
Steps to nail your internal communication strategy
Measure where you’re at currently
You more than likely have some form of plan in place, however to begin improving, it’s best to look at this from an outsider’s perspective. Some things to consider are how your current strategy is performing, where you want to end up, how long you’re prepared to spend, and how you’re going to reach your goal. What is working, what isn’t, and how can you fix it?
Quantify your goals
Your success needs to be measurable. By identifying key metrics you can track, such as employee questionnaires, internal email open rates, or work completed, you’ll be able to ensure that the changes you make are actually having an impact—and adjusting accordingly if they’re not.
Employee referrals and social media shares make good benchmarks as well; there’re not many clearer signs that your employees are actively engaged and happy within the company than seeing them advocate for the business externally.
Set timelines for success
Creating sensible benchmarks for your company will aid in predicting the time and difficulty of implementing a new internal communication strategy. One of the best ways of setting your goals is to look at existing metrics, such as employee satisfaction surveys, and discern what can be improved and what a reasonable timeline for this is.
Map out your audience
All content should be made with a specific audience in mind, even when it’s internal. You don’t need to include everybody in the business in every bit of information you convey, and doing so can be ineffective, eventually leading to annoyance and disengagement.
Further, too many inter-office emails can cause important information to be lost in the inbox. To reduce the risk of information overload, carefully segment your audience and make sure that each email you send out goes only to the people who need to see it. That’s not to say you shouldn’t update departments on the work of other departments in the office—you should—but just ensure that it’s useful, relevant information rather than a baffling set of statistics and graphs.
Create an approval process
An important part of your strategy should be to create an approval process for the content you send out. This is necessary as it prevents the wrong information being sent to the wrong team or segment of the company; something that can potentially get a bit hairy, depending on the information involved.
Once you’ve decided which team within your business will be responsible for your internal communication process—that is, who will collate information and write the messages to be shared—it’s time to approach each department to gather ideas that each can contribute. Usually, this role will be done by the Marketing department, owing to their confidence in creating and sharing content and conveying a sense of identity and belonging with your brand.
Decide on your internal communications tools
You might find that a company zine or newsletter is the best method of sharing your important information, or you might prefer a social media platform such as Twitter or Facebook. Then of course there’s our wonderful Note It, which has been designed specifically to streamline employee-manager communication, including feedback on performance, management policy, and the progress towards achieving goals.
One thing to consider is setting up a digital means for your employees to communicate during the working day. The earlier-mentioned McKinsey study also found that a massive 80% of employees communicate with others in their team regularly when utilising a social tool, as opposed to just 65% of employees who don’t use any.
Monitor success and tinker until perfect
Track your results using the methods mentioned in points two and three, and regularly evaluate the results of your strategy against your initial expectations. Staff meetings and employee questionnaires are particularly useful ways of doing this. Be sure to ask questions on any setbacks or barriers they may perceive in your internal communication strategies, as well as how well it’s faring overall so far.
Internal communication strategies: The bottom line
Setting up an effective internal communication system takes time and intelligence, however when you’ve finally mapped out your goals and chosen the most effective means for your business of building bridges with your employees, you’ll find that the rewards are enormous. A well-oiled team of engaged employees who actively advocate for your company and who feel both valued and loyal is an invaluable asset to any company in the world. So get planning!