In 2014, a company memo from PayPal President David Marcus was leaked to the press.

After learning that a number of employees at PayPal HQ were not using the company’s app, he sent a scathing internal email, stating: “some of you refused to install the PayPal app (!!?!?!!)”.

He went on to express his disappointment in these employees, and claimed that other PayPal offices had harder workers because of their high rates of PayPal product usage. He ended the communiqué demanding all his staff use the product or quit:

“In closing, if you are one of the folks who refused to install the PayPal app or if you can’t remember your PayPal password, do yourself a favor, go find something that will connect with your heart and mind elsewhere.”

Unsurprisingly, the memo leaked and as a result PayPal suffered a PR crisis, not to mention the divisive environment it had created between colleagues, staff and management. Instead of using this opportunity to connect with his employees and improve their product, PayPal’s poor internal communication strategy literally drove their talent – and wary customers – away.

The moral of this story was, companies without a solid communication strategy are vulnerable to numerous challenges, including:

  • Lack of awareness around operational inefficiencies and how to improve them
  • Inability to motivate and engage employees
  • Difficulty to create a thriving and positive company culture

Disengaged employees are costing companies big money

After hearing the PayPal story, it’s not surprising to hear that only 4 out of 10 employees can confidently describe to others what their employer does.

Actively disengaged workers alone cost the U.S. between $450 billion and $550 billion per year, according to this Gallup survey.

That’s a lot of money.

With the onset of the pandemic and working remotely becoming a norm, we now know it’s more important than ever to stay connected with your employees using an effective internal communications strategy.

It’s been estimated that employee productivity increases up to 25% in organizations that actively promote employee empowerment and connectivity. Without a doubt, it is essential for companies to invest in internal communications to succeed…but what does that entail for yours?

In this article, we give the rundown on 9 digital tools that help companies strengthen their internal communications strategy. By the end, you’ll be able to determine which of these resources are the best options to consider for your organization and its goals.

What are internal communication tools and how do they benefit employee engagement?

Internal communication refers to the different processes, tools, and tactics used for transmitting and disseminating information among an organization’s workforce.

From office memos and watercooler chats, to company blogs and messaging apps, internal communication channels have come a long way.

Businesses have been scaling at an unprecedented rate thanks to modern technology. However, this rapid growth presents companies with a huge challenge when it comes to keeping up with ever-changing processes. Communicating about constant changes also means that company leadership needs to adapt the way they interact with their teams. And this is why digital internal communication softwares were designed to help companies:

  1. Improve workplace communications
  2. Increase flexibility of the workplace structure: employees are not restricted to onsite meetings and can hold meetings remotely
  3. Accessibility to colleagues outside the office

By leveraging IC tools to improve in these areas of internal communication, your company is able to:

  • Boost employee engagement and satisfaction. Giving your employees a platform to express themselves helps them feel ownership over their work within the organization.
  • Develop robust company culture. Listening to your employees and promoting their individual accomplishments creates a supportive and positive work environment.
  • Reduce employee turnover and attract new talent. Practicing transparency in both internal and external communications strengthens company and customer loyalty.
  • Motivate employees and increase job performance. Empowering your staff to voice their honest feedback at work enables them to contribute to improving work policy and processes.

Improve your internal communication strategy with these 9 SaaS solutions

Part of the challenge in developing a comprehensive internal communications plan is choosing the right tools to execute the actual strategy.

Many businesses struggle with procuring the appropriate solutions for their teams, often resulting in unused SaaS subscriptions and overwhelmed staff that are tired of cycling through new tools.

Internal communication tools isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. Depending on your company’s structure, size, needs, and culture, there are different tools that will best suit your organization.

To help you discern what options there are on the market, here’s a breakdown of the industry’s top 9 internal communications tools.

  1. Slack - The Most Popular Business Messaging App
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Known as everyone’s favorite business messaging app, Slack makes project management and internal communications effortless for teams, regardless of the size of your organization.

Since the COVID pandemic, online messaging platforms like Slack are now such a critical part of day-to-day operations, that they’ve become the new workplace for teams.

Here’s why so many companies prefer Slack’s digital workplace over other internal company communications apps:

  • Customizability. Users create unique messaging channels with hashtags for every subject they want to discuss and the teams they want to discuss it with. You can create, customize, and delete these channels in a couple clicks.

Create Slack Channels For Announcements

For example, admin users can create an #announcements channel to share company news and important updates with employees. To further increase employee engagement, company executives can also host AMAs (Ask Me Anything sessions) via an #exec-ama channel. For very important info, you can also use push notifications in order for everyone to be notified.

  • Fun creativity. Not everything about work has to be serious–we’re all humans after all! Want to add a bit more personality to your workplace? Slack allows users to use a variety of GIFs, emojis, and videos in private and public channels. You can even add your own custom emojis to personalize your team’s Slack experience.
  • Convenient integrations. Many other SaaS solutions and company intranet platforms offer direct integrations with Slack. By linking your Slack to other essential tools, your teams benefit from a more cohesive and productive working experience. No more jumping from app to app to complete each task.

2. Microsoft Teams - The Best Business Communications Platform For Large Organizations

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Microsoft Teams has quickly taken over the employee engagement and internal communications industry. It’s one of the best collaboration tools on the market for streamlining cross-team communications.

Some of its unique features include:

  • Flexible accessibility. Microsoft Teams’ cloud-based product makes the application easy to use on your private devices as well, when you’re outside of the company network.
  • Easy to scale. This solution can support a global workforce and is a suitable option for larger organizations and businesses. You can add a maximum of 10,000 members to each team, from different offices around the world.
  • Employee autonomy. Team creation is not limited to managers and above. Individual employees can also create their own private teams for work and customize them to their own needs.
  • Seamless integrations. Microsoft Teams can be easily synced with your other tools–including all Microsoft applications and most major intranet platforms–to bring company-wide collaboration and teamwork into one place.

3. Zoom - The Most Popular Video Conferencing Tool

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Since the debut of COVID-19, Zoom has become the world’s leading video conferencing tool. If your goal is to improve the quality and features of virtual meetings within your organization, Zoom is one of the best tools you can invest in. Here’s why:

  • Works for everyone. Zoom is incredibly easy to use, even for users who are not tech-savvy. It supports HD quality video for live event streaming, screen sharing, and business presentations where you want every detail to be crystal clear. Zoom also supports a wide number of SaaS integrations, including Slack and Microsoft Teams.
  • Large group calls. All Zoom plans allow up to 100 participants in each meeting. A “Large Meetings” add-on can be purchased to increase the maximum participants per meeting to 1000.
  • Built-in backgrounds and filters. Many professionals who transitioned to partial or full-time remote work with young families at home struggled with finding a tidy and proper work setting for their video calls. To solve this dilemma and increase customization, Zoom created a library of virtual backgrounds and camera filters that users can apply to their video from within the app. As a result, you can always be camera-ready, without adding more work to your personal life.
  • Instant messaging. Zoom Chat is the company’s instant messaging platform for businesses. It’s not as popular as Slack, but it is an option if you want to stick to one provider for multiple internal comms tools.

4. PlayPlay - The magic wand for in-house video creation

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PlayPlay is an intuitive tool that brings high quality video content into your internal communications strategy.

Did you know that approximately 75% of employees are more likely to watch a video than read an email or text? Research has shown that video content consistently boosts engagement and helps people retain information more effectively. Need some inspiration? Check out some video ideas for internal communication.

PlayPlay’s simple yet powerful video maker enables communications and marketing professionals to make professional-grade videos in a matter of minutes.

Here’s what our users love about PlayPlay:

  • Diverse video formats. Create different types of video content including news stories, interviews, ads, and more. Customize every element of your video, including orientation and size to optimize your video for use across multiple social media channels.
  • Save time and money. Access millions of free stock images, video clips, GIFs, and even music directly from PlayPlay’s built-in media gallery.
  • Professional video branding. Maintaining an on-brand aesthetic in all your communications is essential. With PlayPlay, it’s easy to add your brand logo, colors, and design elements to video editorial templates (all designed by content experts!). Effortless engagement. Instead of drafting out long emails for every company memo, teams can easily edit and review a video collaboratively. Once you’re ready to publish, share it internally with a short link. Boosting company-wide engagement is that easy. Create your first internal communication video!

5. Typeform - The Dynamic Online Form Builder For Brands

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Typeform is a digital form builder that’s eradicating the notion of “boring forms”. These tailored forms serve as an effective tool to collect data from your employees for your internal comms efforts.

Typeform stands out from competitors in the digital space with its attractive UX/UI and strong brand design. Here’s what you can expect from this tool:

  • Clean simplicity. Typeform’s form builder features a minimalist design and is as easy to use as it looks. Add a creative touch and brand your Typeforms with a drag-and-drop feature. You can use your brand’s own creative assets, or source stock images and GIFs from their built-in gallery.
  • Widely supported. Typeform integrates seamlessly with a large list of SaaS solutions including, but not limited to:
  • HubSpot
  • Airtable
  • Slack
  • ActiveCampaign
  • Google Drive
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Salesforce
  • Asana
  • Zapier
  • OneDrive
  • Real-time data. Typeform supports website embeds and creates shareable reports for your form results. You also have access to real-time data analytics on the platform, making it easy to track progress and make changes to your Typeforms.

6. OfficeVibe - The Best Platform For Measuring & Optimizing Employee Engagement

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OfficeVibe is a versatile platform that helps you measure, improve, and manage employee engagement and satisfaction. The goal is to help you understand what your employees need to be happier and perform better, and identify what challenges or obstacles may be hindering these goals.

The company offers targeted products that focus on connecting managers and employees with better one-on-one meetings, as well as giving staff a safe place to share their honest feedback. These features are categorized into three themes:

  • Understand your team. Encourage and normalize employee feedback with quick 2-minute, anonymous weekly surveys. You’ll learn how your team is really doing, enabling you to help tackle any issues they may be facing.
  • Master one-on-ones. Plan one-on-one meetings in advance and set individual goals for success with each employee. OfficeVibe streamlines the entire process: from meeting prep and taking notes, to tracking next steps and progress.
  • Grow as a manager. Access an extensive digital library of resources, articles, and actionable insights on how to effectively manage your team.

7. Smarp - The Employee Messaging App That Helps Teams Stay Connected

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Smarp is a mobile-first employee messaging app that helps you communicate with all your employees, regardless of whether they’re in office or on-the-go.

Here’s what we love about this app:

  • Personalized messaging. Curate and publish targeted content to different teams or individuals within your company, so they only receive relevant communications.
  • Full analytics suite. Measure the effectiveness of your communications–and identify your most influential employees–using audience segmentation and AI powered insights.
  • Easy mobile app. No company email? No problem. Employees can access the Smarp app with a phone number or a personal email, so they can stay connected with company updates, wherever and whenever.

8. Firstup - The Most Comprehensive Employee Experience Platform

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Formerly known as Dynamic Signal and Social Chorus, Firstup is an internal communication platform that aims to streamline the digital employee experience. It facilitates stronger internal communication and engagement by connecting endpoints, comms channels, and enterprise systems into one optimized workflow.

Major benefits of this virtual communications tool are:

  • User-friendly. The platform is straightforward and simple to navigate. From managers to team members, everyone in your organization can use it with little to no learning curve.
  • Employee empowerment. Everyone’s success is worth celebrating. Share "wins" within your organization, from new hires and promotions, to the launch of exciting new projects.
  • Versatility. Firstup integrates with all major business applications (G Suite, Adobe, Salesforce, etc.) to create a seamless and unified work channel for you and your employees.

9. Staffbase - The Best Internal Email Management & Analytics Tool​​

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Have you ever wondered if you’re sending too many internal emails? Or questioned whether your employees are actually reading your messages? If you answered yes to either of these questions, Staffbase is the employee communication platform for you.

Their goal is to help business leaders and communications professionals unite their companies and drive greater business results with effective internal communications.

Staffbase boosts authentic employee engagement and modernizes company communications by providing:

  • An end-to-end platform. Create and publish engaging emails effortlessly using drag-and-drop, and customize your content using a wide selection of professional newsletter templates.
  • Diverse tools. Enhance your internal email campaigns with robust features like click maps, recipient tracking, and trend reporting.
  • Analytics reports. Use data-driven insights to analyze email results, identify opportunities for improvement, and how to execute them.

Transparent and effective internal communications starts from the top

All the tools we’ve listed above enable you to authentically engage with your employees in a multitude of different ways. Now that you know which solutions are best suited to your organization, you’re ready to take the next step.

Here’s our last takeaway: building strong internal communication starts with your company’s leadership.

Executives and managers who prioritize transparency in their operations empower, enable, and equipe their teams to express themselves with confidence and creativity. And ultimately, high employee satisfaction improves company performance.

From live messaging and employee surveys, to video conferencing and video making, you’re now familiar with a diverse range of tools that can build a strong company culture.

Ready to take your upcoming internal comms campaign to the next level? Try PlayPlay for free and create your first professional video in minutes.