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 is very much dependent on proper employee awareness. Towers Watson, Human resources consulting firm, researched a highly employee engaged company that performs better than the low-engagement organization. Also, AON Hewitt finds in a study a high employee engagement in companies outperformed by 65 percent in 2010 bringing 22 percent shareholders in return than the average. While in the case of low engagement, the same figure reduced less than 45 percent and posted the shareholder returns by less than 28 percent.
Therefore, it is clear the 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 freely participate in different decisions and conversations at their workplace, and this would tend to ultimately change the company culture. Permitting this participation is important to put the employees engaged 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 their say must be heard by the senior management. 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 the 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. The employees when engaged root-to-root to the organization can bring about a major change in the competitive advantage.
There are certain ways to implement internal communications in your business. First, the internal communication goals must be set and decisions are made as to whom to report. For people in smaller organizations, internal communication is everyone’s day-to-day job, but 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 have to communicate and be interactive to any kind of communication flown from the 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 actually creates the facelessness of the boards. When the employees have a chance to 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 consider themselves as the catalysts for any change management decision in the company.
They should engage the individual supervisors while announcing any significant information. Employee engagement is enhanced by about 44 percent when they involve individual supervisors. 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 respective subordinates. The employees also must have a chance to share their frank opinion without any fear of reprisals from the top management. Then only the ultimate objective of the news is complete. And this is called the bottom-up internal communication strategy, which results in two-way communication.
Through a bottom-up internal communication strategy, employees can easily share their feedback and ideas. They can discuss 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, 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, is equally new effective channels to contact employees briskly and broadly with significant news and announcements.
The company intranets are building trust among employees and are considered as 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 and subsequently increase productivity and internal communication. But foremost is setting up company goals that keep on changing in different companies.
Below are some generalized goals that an organization must have developed:
- 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.
- The presence of multi-way communication should facilitate employees to freely talk and recommend any internal decision.
- Simple systems would increase the productivity of the employee, and this 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 need to look after the factors that strongly affect the distribution of news or much precisely to say the aligning of news in the intranet and proper distribution channels. Some areas need further look as such:
- News characteristics: A news-worthy 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 these different news must be housed under various set categories so that employees can easily find them. The news items have the comments section wherein the employees would freely fill their feedback.
- Intranet design: An intranet can be clumsy or clean depending on how these are aligned. For a starter, a ham-fisted design would always tough to understand. Web pundits advise an intranet should be sleek, clean, simple, and easily navigational.
- Time: The news has to be screened first of all as per the characteristic features, and then only put under different relevant categories. Newsfeeds, when too untidy, impose certain issues for navigation and kill so much time. Chances are the target audience will skip. So, the ultimate purpose would not be served.
- Customized content: A high quality and personalized content with concise details would always perform better than the rest. Poor content is always avoided by the employees.
- Reliability: The news must reliable and consistent in terms of reach and functionality. On a constant flow, when the news is spread, the employees would easily relate to what is to be delivered next. The inconsistent approach always fails in generating any employee buzz.
- Updated Information: The intranet must be updated on a regular basis. There should not be any kind of typos or grammatical errors.
- Blog: An employee blog is a superb idea on the host of 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:
- Energetic networker: 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 give answers to other people’s questions and help spread any important news to other employees.
- Dormant specialist: These people despite possessing high knowledge do not hug the intranet to disseminate the information. They obviously 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.
- Enthusiastic sharer: These people do not read the content and share 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 does not have any relevance to the main article and is unnecessarily lengthy. They dilute the intranet and are ignored.
- Ardent listener: These people, though seem to be an inactive specialist, do always keep them undercover. They are visible rarely but very much plugged in and rarely post comments. They eavesdrop heavily.
- Unseen Ingrid: These people are not at all listening or overtly sharing any post on the intranet. They are simply not visible. 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 think about some 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 of spreading news and information, creating knowledge, and replying to queries. Based on extreme creativity, the 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. The companies prefer internal social networking for the sake of forming teams, knowledge repertoire, and initiatives among the employees.
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 manager inform employees about any new advertising that is going to be targeted outside, but they rarely ask for their frank opinions; chances are they can give some enriched feedback whereby the ad quality can be enhanced. The communicators must first sell their campaigns internally to assess how this could succeed outside. In times of merger or acquisitions or leadership changes, the internal communication strategy is very much required. When employee morale is low, or when they are not aligned with the company mission, the internal strategy is of utmost importance.
Jeff Kinder, CEO, Pfizer, sent a note to all the employees by the name of ‘Our path forward: The Next Step’ to make sure everyone is engaged and onboard when Pfizer acquired Wyeth. 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 very important in setting up a perfect two-way communication. CEO and other senior leaders congregate with a large group of employees, known as Town Halls. At 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 on different areas relating to the work. The employees are welcomed to share their views on these topics with the senior leaders. This is an open forum. In cases when employees globally are involved, video or telephone conferencing must be used to aid this. internal communication manager informs their subordinates about the topics of the meeting beforehand so that everyone is focused and stays on the same page. Also, the internal communication manager must have face-to-face meetings with his team members in the small group in 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, progresses on the product and service sides, and issues faced by the company. The content should not be biased and meant for all irrespective of any 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 journal could be in a tabloid or magazine form and released every month or bi-monthly or at every quarter.
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 some 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.
Also, content could be sourced from among the employees depending on their expertise. It is always a great feeling to find your name on any issue. This way the employee engagement idea would be jumped up to a great extent.
7. Idea Boxes
People have a plethora of ideas that could be used to effectively improve the quality of work. In different areas, the Idea Boxes could be set with a view to collecting some good ideas from the employees. These ideas would be reckoned as best practices afterward. Employees can drop their ideas, which should be unique. Every month, these ideas are collected and sifted to find a few best practices that they innovate in the course of their work routines. Later, the soft copies are put in the portal for others to replicate in their fields of work. The winners will get certain citation amount and a certificate from the senior management. This would be a pure form of putting employees involved with their workplace and company.
8. Shop Floor Discussions
Internal communication manager with host shop-floor discussion with the employees about the work, targets, and issue they might face every day. This form of meeting is crucial for heightening employee morale. The employees are motivated a lot by this. The internal communication manager can get an idea of 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. In such visits, an interactive session can be held for the employees to freely participate and present their views on the host of the subjects relating to production to marketing.
10. Closed Circuit or In-House Television
In-house TVs are superb medium to connect employees who are scattered by geography. This is a sure shot success in linking up with the employees in times crises or in cases when an outstanding contribution by an employee takes place. This is a new form of video magazine. So many big and medium companies, e.g., Satyam, ITC, NTPC, SAIL, etc., are using this form of communicating with the 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, 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. This is the most engaging way to involve the employees as its power lies inside and outside the company. For any kind of major developments and changes in your organization, video communication is the most trusted way to connect with the employees.
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 they would 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.
All the employees are brick and bones of the organization. So, their belief and faith are the main assets of a company. Internal communication, by appropriate use of effective communication tools, can easily win the hearts of the employees. 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. For this, internal communication acts judiciously to bridge the gap (if any) and make them believe without their honest contribution the company would disappear, and 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