Updated April 21, 2023
What is Internal Communication?
The internal communication manager, as of now, focuses on “customer care.” Of late, they started giving the same attention to their employees as they understood the utmost business success depends on proper employee awareness. Towers Watson, Human resources consulting firm, researched a highly employee-engaged company that performs better than a low-engagement organization. Also, AON Hewitt finds in a study that high employee engagement in companies outperformed by 65 percent in 2010, bringing 22 percent more shareholders in return than the average. In the case of low engagement, they reduced the same figure by less than 45 percent and posted shareholder returns of less than 28 percent.
Therefore, it is clear that internal communication in the twenty-first century is bigger than the company memo, different marketing collaterals, e-mail, and similar other company marketing attitudes; it is about creating an aura whereby people would have a chance to participate in different decisions and conversations at their workplace freely, and this would tend to change the company culture ultimately. Permitting this participation is important to engage the employees at different echelons of the organization, irrespective of the job or key responsible areas, promoting an authentic sense of community in companies of any size.
In view of this, communication should be a two-way action. Employees expect the senior management must hear their say. In so many organizations, the senior management does not involve lower or mid-level employees in their decision-making process, and sometimes, it is not possible for some company protocols and acute reasons; in such cases, the system must be clear as to substantiate all employees are equal and important and responsible for the overall success, and they should not feel confused or unappreciated. To any change management, they must support the decision of senior management.
Since today’s employee is different, as long as their values, mission, and needs are concerned, from their counterparts in previous times, and the workplace is also not similar – it has become very diverse in terms of staffing characteristics, long hours, more performance-driven, and huge workloads. Rick Hodson, an expert in employee communication, said,
Therefore, the valuable assets are not the products, systems, services, or technical know-how but the employees. When engaged root-to-root with the organization, the employees can bring about a major change in the competitive advantage.
There are certain ways to implement internal communications in your business. First, they must set internal communication goals and decide whom to report to. For people in smaller organizations, internal communication is everyone’s day-to-day job. Still, for big companies, some more areas are to be explored, such as understanding the employees, creating a persuasive internal communication strategy, armoring the senior leaders to control employee behavior, and attitudes, fixing channels and messages, and at last, assessing the communication effectiveness in terms of ROI, safe investment option, and well-prepared planning. Following are the ways to establish proper internal and organizational communication.
Ways to Internal Communication
1. Communicate up and all across
The employees must communicate and be interactive with any kind of communication from senior management for the sake of an “effectively committed” and “well-performing company.” In most organizations, we find a top-down communication structure, which psychologically and physically breaks the sync of employee relationship with the management because the senior internal communication manager works in any involvement with the down-level employees and disseminate information through e-mails and similar other internal communication tools. This creates the facelessness of the boards. When the employees can converse with management regarding any important subject relating to the business objective, they feel motivated and sated with the true perception that the management relies on them and considers themselves as the catalysts for any change management decision in the company.
They should engage the individual supervisors while announcing any significant information. Involving individual supervisors enhances employee engagement by about 44 percent. The internal communication, in turn, would provide all the pertinent news, tools, and other communication support to these supervisors who spread the news among their subordinates. The employees also must have a chance to share their frank opinion without fearing reprisals from the top management. Then only the ultimate objective of the news is complete. They call this the bottom-up internal communication strategy, which results in two-way communication.
Employees can easily share their feedback and ideas through a bottom-up internal communication strategy. They can discuss this candidly with the management. The management can reap the advantages of an effective internal communication strategy:
- Revitalize communication structure by syncing it to the cloud
- Put everyone in the loop of any recent developments and news circulation
- Maintain security while working with company documents
- Set up collaboration by creating various groups
- Set up a platform where inter-and-intradepartmental employees can work together on a specific project
- Encourage employees to mingle with others through internal social networking
Greg Tepas, CEO, of Emkay, leading Feet Leasing Company, has rightly put,
2. Create a social intranet for Internal Communication
We all know that Intranets, as devised in 1980, are equally new and effective channels to contact employees briskly and broadly with significant news and announcements.
The company intranets are building trust among employees. They are considered the most powerful platform where employees can congregate with respect to any interesting and relevant information on mutual interests. Social intranet tends to develop employee teamwork, engagement, and entrée to information, increasing productivity and internal communication. But foremost is setting up company goals that keep changing in different companies.
Below are some generalized goals that an organization must develop:
- The details must not be complex, and the systems are to be transparent and clear.
- Employee engagement, along with individual ownership, should be increased. This will have good repercussions in terms of (a) better ownership of the projects and tasks, (b) clear goals and expectations, and (c) employee actions to represent the company image in whatever they do.
- Multi-way communication should facilitate employees to talk and recommend any internal decision freely.
- Simple systems would increase employee productivity, which could be possible when the whole system is automated. The internal communication strategy is very incidental to the success of concise and quick communication without any gaps
- A well-designed intranet would always save a lot of time for the senior management to announce any news. This could directly or indirectly expedite other work.
After carefully judging the communication goals, you must look after the factors that strongly affect news distribution or, much more precisely, the alignment of news in the intranet and proper distribution channels. Some areas need further look as such:
A newsworthy intranet always rocks the floor. There could be several types of news, such as CEO and leadership messages, company circulars on different policies, forthcoming events, yearly award ceremonies, person-specific news, e.g., success stories, new deals, employee blogs, community, and groups, country, and account centric news, weekly spotlights, newsletter links, company jargons, internal classified section, company dashboards, company best practices, etc. All this news must be housed under various categories so employees can easily find them. The news items have a comments section wherein the employees would freely fill in their feedback.
An intranet can be clumsy or clean, depending on how these are aligned. For a starter, a ham-fisted design would always be tough to understand. Web pundits advise an intranet should be sleek, clean, simple, and easily navigational.
The news must be screened first per the characteristic features and then only under different relevant categories. When too untidy, newsfeeds impose certain navigation issues and kill time. Chances are the target audience will skip. So, the ultimate purpose would not be served.
High-quality, personalized content with concise details would always perform better than the rest. The employees always avoid poor content.
The news must be reliable and consistent in reach and functionality. On a constant flow, when the news is spread, the employees easily relate to what will be delivered next. The inconsistent approach always fails to generate any employee buzz.
The intranet must be updated on a regular basis. There should not be any kind of typos or grammatical errors.
An employee blog is a superb idea in many areas; senior management and other peers would more frequently interact with this blog.
You need to think about different intranet personalities. Following are some designated types of users:
1. Energetic networkers
These people are quite popular because of their frequent visits and well-known posts to different news and announcements. Because of their active status, they share interesting facts and relevant information over the intranets with others. They answer other people’s questions and help spread important news to other employees.
2. Dormant specialist
Despite possessing high knowledge, these people do not hug the intranet to disseminate information. They choose other platforms for this and love to work in a silo. Still, whenever they come and pose any feedback, it is deemed to be highly effective.
3. Enthusiastic sharer
These people do not read the content and share it with everyone sans any relevancy of the message. Most of the time, they like each and every piece of information just to earn exposure. Their posting is irrelevant to the main article and unnecessarily lengthy. They dilute the intranet and are ignored.
4. Ardent listener
Though they seem, inactive specialists, these people always keep them undercover. They are rarely visible but very much plugged in and rarely post comments. They eavesdrop heavily.
5. Unseen Ingrid
These people are not listening or overtly sharing any posts on the intranet. They are simply not visible. Also, they do not read, post, or like anything on the intranet. They are, in a way, unaware of any happenings in the intranet. They are still good employees. Only they do not have any exposure. The internal communication manager must consider incentives to make them at least ardent listeners or lurkers.
To tackle all of these personalities, the internal communication manager must implement certain techniques:
- Internal communication survey to assess the current situation and think about ways to find what would work well
- Improve design and usability
- Overlook the unimportant news and make the intranet very concise
- Ask for user feedback and reply back to their feedback
- The news must be very engaging and informative
- The news should be important and to the point
- Choose community leaders and individual supervisors
- Inform employees about an external event
3. Internal Wikis or Social Networking
Known as a refined tool for filing personal information and information relating to projects, the internal wiki or networking or collaborative authoring is an effective platform for spreading news and information, creating knowledge, and replying to queries. Based on extreme creativity, wikis are used for the virtue of shared ownership. These pedestals are worthy of information portals where multi-way communication takes place; the senior management, too, searches for useful content posted by subordinates, thus breaking the barriers and traditional silos. The employees can freely connect to senior management quite often. Thus, companies prefer internal social networking to form teams, knowledge repertoire, and initiatives among employees.
The internal Communication Benefits of wikis are summarised below
- Utmost appreciation of employee requirements
- Quick solutions to any recurring issues
- Broader recognition of publicized products
- Attaining company suppleness
- Create self-forming teams
- Inculcate employee ownership of initiatives
- Compensation made to team members on the basis of active participation
- Employee recognition for the success of projects
4. Internal Communication Strategy
Like two-way communications, the internal communication strategy is very important. It is essential to build employee morale and engage them in their work. Internal communication managers inform employees about any new advertising targeted outside, but they rarely ask for their frank opinions; chances are they can give some enriched feedback to enhance the ad quality. The communicators must first sell their campaigns internally to assess how they could succeed outside. In times of merger, acquisition, or leadership changes, an internal communication strategy is very much required. When employee morale is low or not aligned with the company mission, the internal strategy is paramount.
Jeff Kinder, the CEO of Pfizer, sent a note to all the employees named ‘Our path forward: The Next Step’ to ensure everyone was engaged and on board when Pfizer acquired Wyeth. However, like external branding does form sensible ties among the customers to the company, internal communication strategy aims to do a similar thing with
5. Face-to-face Meetings
Face-to-face meetings with senior management are crucial in setting up perfect two-way communication. CEO and other senior leaders congregate with a large group of employees, known as Town Halls. Every quarter or monthly, this meeting is held on a host of the subjects, such as company performance, any issues in the market, budget, and progress in different areas relating to the work. The employees are welcome to share their views on these topics with the senior leaders. This is an open forum. In cases where employees globally are involved, they must use video or telephone conferencing to aid this. However, the internal communication manager informs their subordinates about the meeting topics beforehand to ensure everyone stays focused and on the same page. Also, the internal communication manager must have face-to-face meetings with his team members in the small group a month or every fortnight.
6. Company Newsletter or Internal House Journal
A company newsletter gives a chance to enhance awareness of the organization, the deliverables, the recent news, progress on the product and service sides, and issues the company faces. The content should not be biased and meant for all, irrespective of technicalities.
While house Journal is another platform wherein content with good and relevant images play around to increase the utility of spreading the messages of senior management. Also, in this collateral, the stars of the month can have a dedicated section with the pertinent contribution written as small blurbs, thereby increasing the engagement of the employees and their productivity. House journals could be in a tabloid or magazine form and released monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly.
Topics comprise company achievements, business, and operational excellence, mergers of new companies, future needs, envisioned targets, social events, success stories, and employee contributions. These journals may go to employees, suppliers, distributors, agents, opinion leaders, and external stakeholders. The main goal of these journals is to enhance the readership, so the content, look and feel, paper quality, creativity, and layouts must be up-to-the-mark to enchant the target readers. Also, the planning, organizing, publishing, and distribution must be well chalked out in advance.
They could also source content from employees based on their expertise. However, finding your name on any issue is always a great feeling. Hence, this way, they could jump up the employee engagement idea to a great extent.
7. Idea Boxes
Many people have ideas that could effectively improve the quality of work. The company could set up Idea Boxes in different areas to collect good ideas from the employees. They would reckon these ideas as best practices afterward.
Employees can drop their ideas, which should be unique. They collect and shift these ideas monthly to find a few best practices they can innovate in their work routines. Later, they put the soft copies on the portal for others to replicate in their fields of work. Hence, the winners will get a certain citation amount and a certificate from the senior management. Therefore, this would be a pure form of involving employees in their workplace and company.
8. Shop Floor Discussions
Internal communication manager with host shop-floor discussions with the employees about the work, targets, and issues they might face daily. Moreover, this form of meeting is crucial for heightening employee morale. It motivates the employees greatly. Thus, the internal communication manager can understand the employee’s expertise.
9. Management Visits
Two main reasons are there for company visits – (a) employees feel inspired to find their MD or CEO face to face, and (b) Some media benefits can also be accrued out of this. During such visits, the company can hold interactive sessions where employees can freely participate and present their views on various subjects related to production and marketing.
10. Closed Circuit or In-House Television
In-house TVs are superb mediums to connect geographically scattered employees. Linking up with employees during times of crisis or recognizing outstanding contributions by employees is a sure shot for success. This is a new form of video magazine. So many big and medium companies, e.g., Satyam, ITC, NTPC, SAIL, etc., use this form of communication with their employees.
11. Audio-Visual Communication
These days, companies mostly convey audiovisually. As we all know, “Seeing is Believing!” nearly 93 percent of communication professionals think video communication is the most effective form of communication, as revealed by a study by Melcrum. However, the rest 7 percent of organizations still do not rely on the superpower of this medium. They still continue with their long e-mails and similar other tools to reach the employees. Thus, it is the most engaging way to involve the employees as its power lies inside and outside the company. Video communication is the most trusted way to connect with employees for major organizational developments and changes.
The following contents could be easily developed in a video way:
- Company newsletters
- CEO presentations
- Inspiring employee contribution
- Meetings covering the whole company
- Crucial updates on the company procedures
- Recent company news
Always make the videos short and simple. Use focused punch lines and simple animations to make it more entertaining.
12. Open House Day or Event
This could be the annual day for any social event. Region-wise the company can have this social event wherein all the employees with their nearest family members are invited, a function is to be arranged, they invite some celebrities and singers from the film industry, a lot of delicious meals are arranged, various activities are organized, a workplace visit is also arranged, and everyone would have oodles of fun. The families, for a day, would have a chance to see the workplace and feel proud of their spouses who work in those organizations. So, this is a nice way of involving everyone, where senior-level people would interact with the juniors.
Thus, All the employees are the brick and bones of the organization. So, their belief and faith are the main assets of a company. By appropriate use of effective communication tools, internal communication can easily win the employees’ hearts. The sole aim is to break the conventional barriers between senior management and junior and mid-level members and t. The seniors should not feel awkward in the presence of their employees, while the employees must not feel scared and left out. The company must earn ‘love and respect from the employees. However, internal communication acts judiciously to bridge the gap (if any) and make them believe without their honest contribution; the company would disappear. Through them, only the company will reach any milestone.
This has been a basic guide to implementing internal communication in your business. Here we have listed 12 ways that will help improve the same. You may also look at the following articles to learn more