What is internal communication
Internal communication is the glue that holds employees together from the top-down. Employees end up feeling lost and disconnected from their companies when there is an absence of purpose. This is where the internal communication role has the biggest impact on a company. Because the purpose of the internal communication function is to connect, align, and engage employees, all internal communication should tie back to its purpose.
Here is a broad definition of internal communication:
Internal communication is the way information is transmitted between members of an organization and across all levels of departmental lines.
How to improve internal communication within the department
First, we need to take a step back and focus on the types of internal communication that is being permeated throughout an organization. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re evaluating your internal communications:
- Is your internal communication purposeful?
- Is it reaching your entire company?
- Is your internal communication effective?
- Is it improving employee engagement?
- Is executive messaging communicated clearly?
Next, focus on internal communication departmental goals. A common goal is to increase employee engagement or improve company culture. These two go hand-in-hand. If you think about it employees make up the culture that is defined by leadership.
To improve internal communication within the department, leverage the three key drivers that have been shown to impact employee engagement (and subsequently culture):
- Purpose. Always set the purpose. Make sure that every employee in the internal communications understands the purpose of the department. Purpose gives employees inspiration to do their best work, motivation to push through challenges, and most importantly gives them a reason to be excited to go to work every day. When you solidify the purpose of the department, employees are far more likely to be more productive and work better together to execute and hit goals.
- Alignment. If the internal communication department isn’t aligned, then how else is the entire organization going to be aligned? Alignment is making sure that employees and executives are on the same page and that everyone understands how their work is impactful. Always make sure that every internal communication employee understands the overall goals and strategy to maximize the impact of the department.
- Community. Focus the internal communication department to build a sense of community. Improving the internal communication function should take time to understand employee diversity and backgrounds so it’s able to foster a culture that makes everyone feel safe and connected.
Don’t exclude leadership! Executives play a huge role in improving internal communications. They need to be involved because they set priorities and the tone of the overall organization. The internal communication function needs leadership and leadership needs internal communications to distribute critical information and engage employees.
Tips to improve internal communication
Here are some ways to improve internal communication in your organization:
- Align your strategy to what matters. Again, make sure that your strategy revolves around what is important to strategic goals. Your internal communication success depends on getting leadership involved.
- Balance fun, engaging content with critical information. Internal communications straddle the line between critical company information and fun, light-hearted content. On one hand, your job is to make sure the entire organization is clear of company priorities. On the other, you need to make sure that you’re engaging employees with what entertains them.
- Make sure your message is clear. Stress-test your content! Think about your employees’ attention span – it’s not very long, especially when they’re riddled with their daily tasks. Use an active voice, engaging tone, and be direct. Videos are best to maximize engagement.
- Use technology that will maximize impact. Emails are proven to be ineffective for internal communication. Employees have cluttered inboxes that are filled with junk mail. In order to cut through the noise, you need technology that is purpose-built for important information – like a modern intranet. A modern intranet should be able to reach employees both using desktop and mobile.
- Share company priorities and progress frequently. What typically happens is, the company meets once a quarter and shares goals. From then on, employees forget priorities and end up with their heads down. This leads to employee disengagement and disconnection between employees’ daily tasks and company priorities.
- Find out what employees are interested in. Leave your desk. Make new friends. It’s important to know the backbone of your organization so you can better understand diverse experiences and backgrounds. Use your new relationships and knowledge to create content that truly engages people.
- Don’t forget about distributed or remote employees! The traditional workforce structure has changed drastically. It’s important to recognize and acknowledge that there are more distributed offices and remote employees across the globe. You’ll need to make sure you include them if you want to improve internal communication.
Remember, the purpose of the internal communication department is to connect, align, and engage the entire workforce. If the internal communication strategy isn’t doing that, then it’s time to reevaluate your plan. If you’re looking for internal communication content ideas, download: The Definitive Intranet Content Playbook.