All about Internal Communication That Companies Routinely Ignore

First Things First — What is an internal communication strategy?

Covid and its aftermath has made our world even more digital, so ALL businesses need to strengthen their internal communication strategy now more than ever to meet the new challenges brought about by mass digitalisation.

“Communication is the real work of leadership.” — Nitin Nohria, Dean, Harvard Business School

Imagine this.

You are the Internal Communication Manager of a large firm. Your new Social Media campaign has just been launched, and you are really excited about it.

Everything goes smoothly, and you expect employees to support you.

But the response is super muted.
Few employees like, comment, or share the content, and those that do, don’t react as positively as you had hoped.

Is there any way to reverse this situation? you may ask.
The answer is yes.

You could have avoided this experience entirely if you had planned ahead and implemented a better internal communication strategy.

But what exactly is an Internal communications strategy?

Corporate communications and human resources teams usually design and implement internal communication strategies.

In smaller businesses it’s ALL done — planned or intuitively by the founder/(s)!

It outlines how you communicate with employees and management.

It includes your company’s objectives, key messages you will communicate, when and how to do so, and an evaluation framework.

Having an internal communication strategy increases the chances of communicating a clear, actionable message to your employees.

But why is Internal Communication needed?

Put simply ‘Internal Communication’ Helps Companies Meet Their Goals

An organisation can only succeed when all employees work together.

To motivate employees, the goal must be communicated properly.

This is where internal communication comes in. How you communicate is crucial.

The post-Covid remote/ hybrid work world makes it even more important to communicate the goals effectively across all channels.

Tech giant IBM is an example of how good internal communication helps a project succeed. When IBM wanted to drive innovation and explore new projects, it launched the IBM Cognitive Build program, an internal incubator where employees competed for funding for their ideas. IBM Cognitive Build engaged more than 300,000 IBM employees. Participation rate was 70%.

Participation rates and engagement are high due to incentivisation. A good communication strategy should encourage employees to take part in company goals and plans.

Reputation Management

If you search for ‘Employee satisfaction at ABC Ltd’ on Quora, you’ll find a lot of responses from employees.

As employees share their experiences more frequently on social media, internal communication is crucial to building a company’s reputation.

Informing employees about important internal news in a way that makes them feel heard and valued promotes their perception of their employer as thoughtful and caring. This increases employee satisfaction.

Customer Support

Companies should also consider how their staff communicate with clients. When employees understand their role at the company and receive clear, courteous training and support, they are more likely to give great customer service.

Aid to digitisation

Communication has moved online from in-person due to global digitisation. This has created challenges for businesses. The formation of an effective communication strategy could remove these difficulties as it would give employees clarity and set a path for communication.

How to create a successful internal communication strategy in 5 steps?

Step 1- Audit

An audit should be done to assess the current situation. An online survey can easily be used to audit the current communication strategy.

Find out if your employees feel valued and if they feel they are helping the company achieve its goals. If they don’t, that is a problem and needs to be fixed.

Step 2- Define your communication objectives

Set clear communication goals based on what you learn in your audit.

If, for instance, you find out in the audit that employees don’t understand the company goals, devise a plan to effectively communicate the company’s goals and objectives.

Step 3: Develop key messages

You should link the key messages to the business goals so everyone understands what the business is trying to achieve and how they can contribute.

Step 4- Choose your channels of communication

There are many ways to communicate your message. Some include:

  • Emails
  • Meetings
  • E-newsletters
  • Social networking sites

Communication channels would depend on the business size. Regular meetings would suffice if the message needs to be communicated to a small group.

If you’re big, you’ll need more channels, especially in the online mode where everyone works from different locations.

Step 5- Measure, measure and measure again

Feedback is extremely important. You’ll see more engagement and profit if you give employees many opportunities to contribute. Keep your internal communication strategy fresh and relevant to improve employee engagement.

5 tactics to elevate your internal communication strategy

  1. Connect all employees through communication

Communication channels should be available to all employees. Leadership and management need to know the information, but do not rely on them to cascade it to other employees.

If employees have a direct line of communication, you can control the tone and messaging consistently.

2. Train managers to be effective communicators

Employees need a direct line of communication, but managers should know the information being communicated and be clear on their role in supporting it.

“Managers account for 70% of employee engagement.” Gallup

3. Create authentic leadership communication

Create podcasts or videos to engage your executives in genuine leadership communication. This will make employees feel more connected to the top management.

4. Empower employees to communicate back

We wish we could speak for everyone, but we know it’s impossible. One-way communication doesn’t work. Employees may have ideas that help the company. Encourage them to contribute their ideas and opinions.

5. Shift from engagement to activation

Your employees must watch and engage with the communication, but what happens next? Make sure you analyse and quantify the effectiveness of your efforts and, if needed, make corrections.

Now think about the scenario described at the beginning again. Now imagine you have implemented an effective internal communication strategy. You made one change and engagement increased.

Having an effective internal communication strategy matters.

“Great communication begins with connection.” — Oprah Winfrey, philanthropist and television producer

Now if you are a small business or startup and need help with your internal communication, ping us at manish@studio4.online. We have helped businesses and non-profits with their internal communication — from strategy to implementation, from hand holding to execution.

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