Internal Communications: Strategy, Best Practices and Case studies

In today’s digital workplace, the foundation of every successful business is good internal communications. Good communication in the workplace isn’t just about giving and receiving clear instructions. It’s also about presenting how a business shares its voice, brand, and building a strong organizational culture where everyone is valued and empowered to achieve their potential.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 83% of respondents to a recent ATD poll said communication is the most critical success factor for managers. Another study by Gallup shows that employees are usually up to 3 times more engaged when managers hold regular meetings with their teams.

Organizations generally prioritize effective communications with their clients and partners. While that is crucial for business development, what about the communications within your organization?

Significant time, thought and money is invested in external communication, influencing public perception and controlling brand voice. Unfortunately, developing a strong internal communications strategy with employees is often forgotten or put on the back burner, even though it is just as important.

When employees are disengaged or misinformed, it can lead to poor performance and have a negative impact on workforce productivity affecting your bottom line.

A Project Management Institute report found that for every $1 billion spent on projects, $75 million is put at risk by poor communication.

To overcome these communication roadblocks of the modern workplace, organizations need an effective internal communications strategy for bringing people together which can reinforce and energize employees at all levels of daily operations.

According to a Towers Watson study, companies with highly effective communications practices see 47% higher returns to their shareholders.

An excellent internal communication strategy can instil a sense of purpose and satisfaction between employers and employees working in a culture mirroring values.

A Gallup poll found that 70% of employees in the U.S. are not engaged in the workplace. Using proper internal communication tools and practices it can easily be remedied.

Here are a few steps that can help you to build a successful internal communications strategy:

Steps to establish a Solid Internal Communication Strategy

Assess your current internal comms strategy

Most of the organizations have an internal communication strategy already in use. If not, creating one would enhance their employee satisfaction and have a positive effect on efficiency.

But if you do have one, it is always better to start with an analysis of the existing strategy. Evaluate the progress of the strategy by posing relevant questions to measure any deviations.

Few of the questions you should immediately address when assessing your internal communication strategy, include:

  • Where do you currently stand?
  • Where will you be eventually?
  • How do you plan to get there?
  • How long would it take?
  • Who all are involved in that journey?

Answering these questions or planning to have a resolution is important in reconstructing your strategy. Delivering right information to your employees is ensured with a primitive focus on milestone checks in your entire internal comms strategy.

Identify your key metrics

Metrics on your internal comms depict your intranet usage and the utilisation of available tools. Best intranet metrics measure business outcomes. Analyzing these metrics will give you a first-hand report of areas which need more attention. Below are some of the metrics which give organizations a basic idea of their current position.

Behavioural Metrics:

How many employees are using the intranet?

How many employees store documents on the intranet instead of the shared drive?

Are users thoroughly engaged with the available resources on an intranet?

Which pages are attracting most visitors?

What is the average time every user spends on the intranet?

Attitudinal:

How many employees express satisfaction with the new intranet?

Are internal comms team happy with the existing strategy and tools?

Is there a need for new functionality and tools to support changes in the strategy?

Technical:

Is my intranet content up to date?

Are the current pages loading more quickly than the old intranet?

Are employees given self-service options so that there is a lesser dependency on IT?

Set realistic goals and segment your audience

Despite the increasing awareness of the incredible benefits of internal comms strategy promise, there is still an uncertainty on the business outcomes it promises.  Mapping business goals with the internal comms strategy help in setting realistic and measurable goals. Ideally, goals should be specific, measurable, achievable (for targets), relevant, and time-limited.

One way to better set your goals is to baseline it with previous metrics and consider including notes on key insights, actions, and steps to be taken.

Once you have an idea of what could foster your internal comms strategy, it’s time to know who to target. Your strategy should always target a specific audience, even when it is intra-organizational. It is important to find what type of content needs to reach certain employees in your business.

Employees need to be informed about news and organization information regularly, so it is smart to segment out your audience first. This will help you to map out your communication strategy more strategically.

Instead of sending messages to everyone or only your c-suite, try connecting with key stakeholders in the organization to address what type of content would be necessary for their team.

For example, your Sales team might not need to know about every IT update on their intranet.

Build an approval process

High quality, useful and timely intranet content is an outcome of different levels of approvals and scrutiny. Content churned out inline with internal comms strategies can be complex without a little help from other members. It is recommended to plan out an approval process for your content. Doing this will prevent any unnecessary errors, closed comments or news from accidentally being published to your team.

Firstly, you need to pick a team to control your internal comms strategy. Moving further you are required to identify stakeholders from each department who can help with the approval process. Organizing your team this way can help streamline content approval and publishing. This will limit the errors and bottlenecks down the line.

Define the internal comms tools you will use

Identifying prime channels to publish relevant content is the key to an effective strategy. For example, some news might be more viral on Twitter, while job postings could be better on LinkedIn and Facebook.

After choosing your channels, next comes the right tool for your organization. A powerful internal comms tool and employee support can allow you to amplify your communications.

Using an internal comms tool can reduce marketing costs and increase your social reach effortlessly.

Evaluate your progress

Key performance indicators shouldn’t be utilized only to track progress. Gain insights from them and consistently enhance to achieve best outcomes. Do a frequent assessment of your internal comms strategy and incorporate it into the core foundation of your business.

For example, spending a few minutes on internal comms in every meeting will help you in tracking real-time progress. This will help you build communications related questions into your employee satisfaction survey. Some questions you could ask employees are:

  • How well do you think we are communicating internally?
  • Are we doing everything we can to keep our organizational vision open/ transparent?
  • What setbacks limit you from working with others on projects?
  • Do you believe we could increase our communications across departments?
  • What constraints prevent you from better internal communication each day?
  • Where can we improve the most on company communication?

An internal communications strategy is crucial for any successful organization, despite its size. By creating a cohesive strategy, organizations can effectively reach their business objectives, improve employee engagement and ultimately have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Here are some of the best internal communication practices that can help in architecting and optimizing employee engagement, culture alignment, open communication and build a smarter performing business.

Internal communications best practices

1. Ensure consistency in communication

The absence of strategic and effective internal communication makes an organization fail to ensure the consistency between external and internal messages.

In large decentralized organizations, information does not flow evenly and consistently through all departments. This is mainly because individual managers vary in their propensity to share information, and in their ability to communicate well.

Employees are on the lookout for a “core story” that consistently puts the strategy into the context of the mission and values of the organization.

Maintaining an optimal and consistent internal communication approach rests as much on the expectations and beliefs of employees as on potential effects of the organization.

Communicating frequently and consistently helps in building trust and buy-in from employees and internal stakeholders.

2. Include metrics whenever possible

“Anything that is measured and watched, improves.” – Bob Parsons

Often measuring how the organization is performing can reflect your team’s work ethic. These metrics will help employees to know about the specific approaches or metrics that communicators use to demonstrate the ROI for their organization’s internal communication initiatives.

If you are dealing with intermediaries such as managers to reach the staff, then your evaluation should include both intermediary engagement and the end user engagement.

To achieve competitive sustainability organizations can make use of internal comms software to share metrics more conveniently.

Read More: How to Leverage Intranet Analytics to Measure Intranet Effectiveness

3. Provide channels for feedback and ideas

Targeting focus groups to collect feedback from both employees and managers is another effective method.

Diverse methods and channels are available for use to collect feedback from your employees in addition to sharing ideas regarding the workplace, products, working procedures etc.

Frequently collecting feedback and ideas in an organization can help you remain aligned to goals, create strategies, develop products and services, improve relationships, and much more. Continued learning is the key to improving.

Read more: 6 easy ways to capture ideas from employees

4. Encourage cross-departmental communication and collaboration

“Effective communication is an essential component of professional success whether it is at the interpersonal, intergroup, intragroup, organizational, or external level.” – Mike Myatt

Cross-departmental communication is key to getting your employees to learn from one another. Have a Q&A session or a special gathering between different departments to communicate, collaborate and share insights.

For example, regular inter-departmental Q&A sessions can help in sharing knowledge and enhance employee engagement. Besides, it prevents employees from feeling isolated from one another boosting internal communications.

5. Avoid communication overload

“Effective internal communication not only connects people with one another but also with the right information at the right time.” – Marijn Deurloo

A common challenge, especially in large and fast-growing organizations, is how to foster communications and yet, reduce communication overload.

Keeping things simple, brief & to the point and sending out your internal newsletter with relatively less frequency can help you to cut-down communication overload. You need to focus on sending the right information to the right people at the right time.

Forward-thinking organizations are using social intranet features such as forums to combat any potential communication disconnects and overload.

6. Share industry news, trends, and insights

“If you don’t give people information, they’ll make up something to fill the void.” – Carla O’Dell, CEO, American Productivity and Quality Center

Your employees are not just part of the organisation, they’re part of an industry. They need to stay updated on the latest industry news. Encourage your employees to share industry news, the latest trends in the market and other industry-related blurbs.

You need to make your employees realize that they are contributing to something bigger than their purview and the factors of change, which act as a powerful motivator.

7. Use internal communications to recognize and praise success

According to Bersin by Deloitte – The Employee Recognition Maturity Model 2012, organizations with the most mature employee recognition approach are 12 times more likely to have strong business results.

Employee recognition can make your employees feel valued and appreciated. A recent survey by APA found that employees who feel valued reported “higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, and motivation”. So it’s definitely something worth investing in.

Recognizing employees effort and contribution through your internal communication software will be one of the best practice which is beneficial not only to boost employee morale but also to maximize the organization’s productivity and growth.

Learn More: The Power of Employee Recognition and How Intranets Can Help

Case Studies

1. Experian takes a TED-like approach to unify values and culture

The internal comms team had never come together to understand the objectives they are required to achieve. They just wanted to enable communication that encourages employees across the organisation.

Experian was keen on connecting employees from different locations, collecting stories around the organisation to communicate Experian’s values and culture to its workforce of over 17,000.

This ended in ‘Experian LIVE’ – a TED-style event to create connections among employees of all levels in the organisation. Experian TV was launched to share stories, interviews and how-to guides across the organisation.

This initiative improved their internal communications by offering sharp and crisp content for the employees to engage with on any device.

2. Royal London proves the ROI of employee engagement

Recognising the power of feedback, Royal London wanted a formal & effective way to capture and act based on feedback across the organization. To do this, Royal London introduced a culture pod which gives every individual a voice.

The main intent was to evolve the old survey, propose the views and opinions of their employees to develop ideas and present recommendations to the executive committee. After receiving more than 50% of the feedback from the organisation, several employee recommendations were approved.

This idea produced positive customer comments and increased engagement levels. Employees who felt engaged gained trust in their leaders, and very importantly, new business growth was up by 28%, stocks under management were up by 18% and customer satisfaction rose to 10.5 points.

3. GE ‘starts with why’ to give comms an authentic voice

Introduced four years ago to combat what potential applicants were reading before an interview, GE’s brand ambassador programme was introduced to give a real picture of what life is like at the organisation which produces 25% of the world’s energy.

They started with LinkedIn and formulated a new story – changing the LinkedIn content focus from just posting jobs to assisting employees to make connections and guide them on how to tell their ‘why’. Using a suite of digital tools, blogs, mailers and a learning portal, employees were motivated to become brand ambassadors by sharing content across the organisation.

Since the programme began, GE has noticed an 800% increase in applications – more than their Super Bowl advertisement produced!

With over 350,000 employees, getting 75% of their workforce on LinkedIn is no mean effort, and with a greater insight into what applicants are interested in hearing about, GE can now optimise communications efficiently. The ambassador programme has produced over the $9m equivalent of paid social media advertising. That’s an impressive ROI!

Conclusion:

Today, communication professionals are increasingly challenged to justify budgets and prove a direct impact on the bottom line. In response, researchers are demonstrating a link between effective employee communications and improved performance that can lend outside credibility to communications planning. Here are some compelling findings related to employee communications and engagement:

Hay Group: It found that Fortune’s “Most Admired Companies” increased stock appreciation 50 percent over their peers after instituting stronger employee communications programmes.

The point of contact that employees have in their workplaces play a crucial role in how they stay motivated, notified, and engaged with what they do. As technology has become a crucial part of our daily lives, the technological environment in the workplace is of great importance to the employee experience.

In this digital transformative era of hyper-modern organizations, competitiveness depends upon the ability to manage change. Particularly for organisations with large, widely distributed workforces, holding pace with rapid innovation requires advanced tools that can effectively keep all your employees fully informed.

Mesh – a next-gen intelligent intranet solution provides intelligent internal communications software and tools on a single platform.

It brings you a comprehensive internal messaging system which can send your colleagues targeted notifications, facilitate cross-level communications and encourage engagement on social platforms booting internal communications in your organization. Schedule a demo.

FREE EBOOK

THE INTELLIGENT GUIDE TO SOLVING YOUR INTRANET
ADOPTION ISSUES

Related Posts

Leave a comment