Internal communication is an important way of connecting and motivating employees, communicating with them, and keeping everyone informed. In most companies, internal communication is formally handled by HR, but in truth, it encompasses all the communication between all your employees.
Previously, internal communication was often a top-down affair. Senior managers sent out memos or newsletters with high-level updates and regular team members received them as emails or through the intranet.
These days, internal communication is seen differently; expert Rachel Miller of AllThingsIC defines it as “the way a company interacts with its people and they interact with it.”
The benefits of a strong internal communication strategy
There are cultural, productivity, and financial benefits to ensuring strong internal communication at your organization. It can improve your employer brand, support new modes of working, and even increase revenue.
1. Engaged employees power stronger companies
Great internal communication has a variety of benefits; according to Smarp, it saves your employees time, it’s central to effective project management, and it boosts trust. Research presented in the Harvard Business Review suggests employees who feel fully informed and more engaged are 21% more productive. Companies with effective communication strategies see 47% higher total returns to shareholders.
Conversely, there is a cost to poor workplace communication. David Grossman, author of The Cost of Poor Communications, gives a figure of $37 billion as the total estimated cost of employee misunderstanding. This figure includes actions or errors of omission by employees who have misunderstood or were misinformed about company policies, business processes, job function, or a combination of the three in 100,000-employee companies. Some 400 American corporations were surveyed for the report.
Internal communication plays a key role in keeping everyone motivated, productive, and on the same page
2. Good internal communication means less time spent recruiting
Recruitment is an expensive and resource-intensive activity for companies. According to Blink, companies that communicate effectively are 50% more likely to report below-average turnover levels. This is increasingly important as employers cope with the impact of the “Great Resignation,” which saw 4.5 million Americans leave their jobs in November.
Higher engagement can also mean a 40% reduction in absenteeism. That means less time interviewing new people and training them in, which can be a big drain on resources.
3. Remote and hybrid working
As we enter a ‘new normal’ where hybrid working and remote working have become the norm, internal communication takes on even greater importance. The ability to collaborate, inspire each other, and communicate effectively while working from different locations and different time zones has grown. Internal communication plays a key role in keeping everyone motivated, productive, and on the same page. Make sure to include remote employees in internal communications and recognize their input.
Some companies spend millions on developing their employer brand, but the vocal support of your employees brings with it a level of authenticity that money can’t buy.
When someone says: “I love my job,” that’s a powerful endorsement of a company’s values. As potential employees frequently turn to review sites like Glassdoor to vet a company’s culture before they apply for roles, it’s wise for businesses to consider how internal communication impacts their employee experience and overall brand image.
5. Crisis management
Internal communication plays a crucial role if your company experiences a crisis. From a fire at one of your factories to a natural disaster to a scandal involving one of your executives, a crisis can come in many forms.
When a crisis hits, it’s important that internal communication is prioritized so that employees know what’s happening, who to direct journalists to within the company, and not to make any unauthorized comments that could hurt the company
It’s a time when communication needs to be controlled and centralized as journalists can be pretty ruthless in the hunt for information, picking up the phone and calling different lines until they get someone to make an unofficial comment. Internal communication must be prioritized when a crisis hits. Informed employees know what’s happening, who to direct journalists to within a company, and how to protect themselves from accidentally making unauthorized comments that could hurt the company.
How to improve your company’s internal communication
When it comes to internal communication, what matters most is that you’re conveying the right message. A well-rounded approach to internal communication will include company news like acquisitions or product launches, internal promotions, ‘employee of the month’ announcements, updates on important projects, and spaces for peer-to-peer communication.
- Develop multiple channels: Do you communicate through an intranet site, an email newsletter, all-hands meetings, or a noticeboard? Is there an opportunity to use video to illustrate things that would be harder to communicate in an email, or could you use a podcast to deep-dive into a niche topic? It’s likely that you need to use a combination of online and offline methods of keeping in touch with your staff. Be creative!
- Make it circular: Make top-down communications a thing of the past. Give your new joiners and low-level managers the chance to create content for senior management or even the board. Don’t forget to encourage interdepartmental communication too; does your finance department know how your sales team works?
- Get personal: We spend a good chunk of our lives at work, some of us meet our closest friends or life partners there. Encourage employees to share when it’s their birthday, a work anniversary, or when they have a big milestone in their life outside of work. Companies love to claim that they are one big happy family; try to make that a reality by creating opportunities to celebrate personal news.
- Improve your writing: Whether it’s a blog post, a video script, or a memo, good internal communication requires good writing. If you plan to introduce employee-led and peer-to-peer internal communication, how can you ensure that the quality of the content remains high? A language analysis platform can be a game-changer for companies who wish to create clarity in their communications at scale.
- Recognize excellence: Everybody loves a little recognition for a job well done. Acknowledging employees who are doing well publicly makes them feel valued, and encourages their colleagues to strive for their best as well. It’s good for morale and generates goodwill. A white paper from WorkHuman reveals that 69% of employees say they’d work harder if their contributions were recognized and praised.
How to get started with a new internal communication strategy
A good internal communication strategy can contribute to a positive business environment at your organization. A listening exercise is a great place to start. Talk to your employees in meetings, ask for feedback in one-to-ones, and send out surveys.
From there, look at your current strategy and see what should be kept or updated, what should be thrown away, and what might need to be added in. Your journey to a connected internal communication strategy starts here.