Internal communication (or IC) might not always have priority compared to external communication activities, but every company should absolutely dedicate some time and effort to it to engage their employees and make sure they stay on board.
Need some stats? Here you go:
- A Bambu data study has shown that 4 in 5 people think effective internal communication helps their job performance.
- According to The Harvard Business Review, when companies with high turnover problems take steps to increase employee engagement, turnover can drop by 25%. In low turnover companies, the reduction can reach up to 65%!
- Lastly, 86% of employees think ineffective communication and lack of collaboration are the reason behind workplace failures (Salesforce).
If you’re reading this, you are probably aware of the fact that good internal communication is the key to running a successful business strategy. Good on you! Because internal communication allows for more stability, cohesion and productivity within your teams, having a strong internal communication strategy should never be overlooked.
But the question is: what is a strong internal communication strategy and how do you build and implement one?
Follow our step-by-step guide to find out.
Defining the objectives of your IC strategy
The previous stats have already hinted at it: efficient internal communication and company success go hand in hand.
Internal communication is so much more than sending a myriad of updates on how the company is doing to your employees. In fact, IC requires a strong strategy and a concrete action plan to be truly beneficial.
Whether your company is medium-sized or a multinational corporation, here are some of the reasons why you should consider launching an internal communication campaign:
- Motivation: Encouraging your employees to be more innovative and promoting intrapreneurship is your ticket to a more profitable business. They might just help you outshine your competitors!
- Reassurance: During periods of crisis or change, internal communication is essential to stand by your team members’ side until the situation improves. IC is also a means of resilience that will help you support your employees on an emotional level.
- Information: Internal communication is the way to go when it comes to letting your teams know about new hires or your company’s next big steps.
- Celebration: Launching a new project or a new department, empowering talent or promoting employee advocacy are just some of the things you should celebrate through internal communication.
- Training: Offering additional training programs to your employees and helping them gain new skills is also something that falls under internal communication. Keep it in mind!
- Sense of belonging: One of the key goals of internal communication is to make sure your employees feel attached to your company and its culture. Why not encourage them to collaborate on finding ways to be a more sustainable business? Remember we’re all looking for meaningful ways to make an impact!
Whether you are a corporate journalist or a communication specialist, don’t forget that your tasks do not only revolve around generating internal content and updates. As a company culture expert, your job is to build meaningful connections within your organization and to help team members with the issues they are facing.
To reach that goal, it is absolutely essential that you define the purpose of your internal communication actions.
Fostering collaboration across departments
There’s an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We think this is an awesome quote to keep in mind as an IC professional.
Collective intelligence is the way to go to harvest the full potential of your IC strategy. Therefore, always be sure to collaborate with other departments!
Involving the expertise of related departments such as HR, Marketing or Executive Management will be a great help when it comes to reaching your strategic goals. Speaking with one voice is vital if you want your brand messaging to be consistent and dependable.
Here are some synergies that we think you should explore:
HR x IC
Maintaining a quality work life and ensuring employee satisfaction means finding ways to boost the sense of accomplishment amongst your team members. Maybe you could start a newsletter dedicated to work-life balance and work on it together with Human Resources. Note that this could also enhance your employer brand.
Marketing x IC
When launching a new product, your team members could become your best ambassadors. For example, you could work together with your marketing team and release video interviews of your employees advocating for your newest product or service. They will most likely be thrilled to be the ‘face’ of your brand and these kinds of videos also help showcase the human side of your business. It’s a win-win situation.
Executive Management x IC
Stimulating team members thanks to more unique activities is ideal to keep them motivated and team building events are a great way to hear what and how they think. Why don’t you team up with Executive Management to organize something exciting? This will be mutually beneficial to both departments as you will be able to show gratitude towards your employees all while giving their management a chance to collect feedback and connect with their team members on a more casual level.
💡 Fun Fact
Did you know there are 3 main types of internal communication?
Here they are:
- Top-down communication: With this approach, information is spread from top to bottom in terms of level of responsibility.
- Bottom-up communication: Here, employees are the ones spreading information towards their higher-ups. Whether it happens spontaneously or through meetings or surveys, this type of internal communication will help you learn more about your employees’ expectations and level of satisfaction.
- Sideways communication: This method encourages dialogue between all stakeholders and can happen through an intranet system or during company offsites. The idea is to make space for discussions that involve members of different teams or levels of hierarchy.
Each model has its own strengths and shortcomings, so we recommend switching things up depending on your current objectives.
Find out what the best internal communication tools are.
Selecting the right IC channels
Now that you’ve identified your strategic objectives, it’s time to select the specific actions you are going to implement.
Lucky for you, your options in terms of communication channels are basically endless—whether it’s a website, a physical magazine or just regular events, the choice is yours when it comes to picking the ideal way(s) to reach your IC goals.
However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend time reflecting and selecting the right one!
Your mantra here should be: Always adapt your method of communication to your target audience. You should also make sure it fits your brand DNA and company values.
Here’s a short overview of the main internal communication channels to help you make the right choice:
- Internal newsletter: This is the favorite channel of 86% of internal communication specialists and the one that employees tend to prefer, too. A study has shown that 91% of employees appreciate receiving company updates via email. Interesting, right?
- Internal events: They are especially useful when it comes to teambuilding. Regular events (Monday stand-up, Friday breakfast etc.) are a great way to share weekly updates or just to get together more casually.
- Idea box: This is one of the main tools of bottom-up internal communication. Employees are free to write down and submit their feedback or complaints regarding the company’s internal organization. HR departments love this tool as it can help collect ideas and show team members that their opinions matter. Employee empowerment and motivation are just 2 of the benefits that an idea box provides.
- Internal magazine: This tool will help you share updates regularly in written and physical form—though you could also opt for a digital internal magazine! Be sure to include information on new hires, upcoming projects, recent results and more.
- Physical meetings: Think company offsites, team building events and conferences. They will allow you to exchange with your employees and gather their feedback IRL. If physical meetings are not an option, why not use Hangout or Zoom?
- Intranet or corporate social media: 76% of communication professionals say they enjoy using an intranet to put together corporate data or documents. And 78% of employees share that opinion! However, avoid being too casual here and be creative to make sure everyone engages with the content that is shared. You could organize challenges, post fun videos of your employees, stick a map on the wall showing the best local lunch spots… Another option is to work with a corporate social media platform (Workplace, Yammer, Joincube) or set up company chats with Slack or Microsoft Teams. Alternatively, you could set up a private group on LinkedIn or Facebook.
- Posters or screens: Displaying updates and information on a screen or on printed posters is the best way to share information linked to internal rules, security or new services that are available. Just make sure to place them in strategic places and where people are sure to notice them!
💡 PlayPlay Pro Trick
If you are looking for a video creation platform that can help you create announcements to be shown on screens at your headquarters, why don’t you give PlayPlay a try? Our 7-day free trial is ideal to see how easy it is to create beautiful internal communication videos!
One last tip—A cross-channel approach is best to create and implement an impactful IC strategy. You could organize an all-hands meeting to discuss a quarterly report, then share the report itself via an internal newsletter.
Identifying the relevant types of content
After you‘ve selected the right channels, it’s time to define the types of content you will be producing and sharing.
You’ll find some editorial ideas below:
- An internal blog is great to share company updates regularly.
- A video tutorial is ideal if you are rolling-out a new time-off management tool.
- Why not share a fun interview of your CEO as season’s greetings? You could also record a focus group session and share a report with your employees.
- A portrait could be great to introduce a new team member.
- An infographics is perfect to share the main data from your yearly report.
- An internal podcast could help you tell your employees about a specific issue, such as sustainability or mental health at work.
Would you like to know more? Discover 7 internal communication ideas to boost employee engagement.
Remember that no editorial format is perfect, though. Just make sure your content is geared towards your employees and their expectations and focus on each community’s—or department’s—specificities.
You could switch things up between shorter content when it comes to communicating about a very specific topic, and long-form content to add value or dive deeper into an issue.
Either way, remember to keep things interesting for your team members. Avoid being cold and impersonal at all costs!
💡 PlayPlay Pro Trick
Keep in mind that the end goal of internal communication is to educate and exchange with your team members. Be honest and authentic at all times!
To do so, you could create exclusive content that is educational and straight to the point. Cut the marketing speech and remember your audience knows exactly what you are talking about.
To do so, always ask yourself whether your message is…
- Believable: Is all information that is being shared true and can team members fact-check it?
- Understandable: Again, avoid using jargon and adapt your messaging to each target audience if needed.
- True to reality?
- Consistent: Does everything you communicate fit your brand image? Internal communication should always be in line with company culture.
Keeping a steady communication schedule
Content ideas? Check! Communication channels? Check! Ideas to keep your employees interested? Check, too!
Great. But did you figure out how often you should initiate communication? As you probably know, getting in touch at regular intervals is essential to engage your audience. Of course, quality should also be kept at a constant level.
As an example, are you planning on releasing your newsletter daily, weekly or monthly? Should IRL events happen every quarter or twice a year? The amount of content you will be able to produce is key when it comes to defining that variable.
Sharing information more often doesn’t mean your IC strategy will be more efficient, so don’t overestimate the amount of work you’ll be able to put in. Just pick a frequency and stick to it!
💡 PlayPlay Pro Trick
When it comes to internal communication, remember that less is more. By sharing too much information too often, you will end up overwhelming your audience and they will lose interest.
Unless your team members are exceptionally keen on consuming your content, always choose quality over quantity. Think ‘slow communication’ and avoid sharing information more than twice a day.
An idea to make your communication strategy more sustainable and engaging could be creating several series of content rather than one-off pieces. For example, you could always choose to release interviews to introduce new products.
Involving employees in the strategy’s evolution
Congratulations on making it this far! Your employees will surely appreciate your level of commitment to improving your internal communication. One last step would be to optimize your strategy as you go. Ever heard of agile project management?
Be sure to monitor the impact of your communication strategy:
- Gather constructive feedback from your employees by launching regular surveys and measuring employee engagement.
- Invite them to participate in creating the content you will be sharing—provided this is in line with your current objectives.
This will allow you to be sure your communication strategy truly fits the needs of your teams all while staying close to their actual needs. Remember that personalization is the key to a positive employee experience and will contribute towards a happy and high performing work environment
💡 PlayPlay Pro Trick
Planning ahead is essential to a successful, long-term internal communication strategy, which is why PlayPlay has created an editorial content plan that can be fully personalized. Whether you are used to working with Trello or Google Sheets, this tool is sure to make piloting your IC strategy much easier—especially if other communication and marketing teams are involved.
Now you hold the keys to an internal communication strategy that will be efficient and will keep employees engaged at work. Well done!
Time to get to work!