When internal communication is poorly managed, challenges emerge. One of these challenges is a lack of employee engagement—and this affects productivity, which has a direct impact on your bottom line. In many companies, poor internal communications are a vicious cycle that plays on repeat: When employees aren’t engaged, they don’t read company communications. If they don’t read company comms, you can’t reach them to improve employee engagement.
How can a dedicated comms team break the cycle and improve internal communications? It isn’t always easy, but our tips can help you hone your internal communication strategy, reach your audience, and boost employee engagement.
Unpacking internal communications: what it is and why it matters
In contrast, good internal communication is the cycle that holds employees together from the top down. Employees feel lost and disconnected from their companies when they don’t understand their purpose. This is where the internal communication role has the most significant impact on a company.
Internal communication aims to deliver an employee experience (EX) that connects, aligns, and engages everyone. And all internal communication should tie back to this purpose.
Put succinctly; internal communication is how information is transmitted between members of an organization and across all levels and departmental lines. And here’s how to improve it!
How to improve internal communication within organizations
First, let’s focus on some key questions that should guide your efforts:
- Are your internal communications purposeful?
- Do key messages reach your entire company?
- Are your efforts improving employee engagement?
- Is executive messaging communicated clearly?
Next, turn your attention to internal communication team goals. Do you want to increase employee engagement or improve company culture? It’s a trick question as these two items go hand in hand. If you think about it, employees’ day-to-day workplace life defines the culture, and employee engagement is the rudder that steers it.
To improve internal communication throughout the organization, leverage three key drivers that impact employee engagement and, subsequently, culture. These drivers are purpose, alignment, and community.
Purpose: Always set the intention. Make sure every employee understands the meaning of the team. Purpose inspires employees 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 department’s purpose, employees are far more likely to be more productive and work better together to execute and reach goals.
Alignment: If the internal communications team isn’t aligned, then how can everybody else in the organization be aligned? They won’t be. Ensure employees and executives are on the same page and that everyone understands how their work is impactful. Always ensure that every internal communication employee understands the overall goals and strategy to maximize the impact of the department.
Community: Focus the internal communication team on building a sense of community. The team should take time to understand employee diversity, backgrounds, and interests to foster a culture that makes everyone feel safe and connected
Employee engagement depends on workers having a sense of purpose. When employees care about their company’s vision and mission for serving its customers and communities, they’re more engaged with the company and its work.
Tips for improving internal communications
All too often, understaffed comms teams struggle to meet a daily grind of last-minute information and tight deadlines. As a result, there isn’t much time to work strategically, and employee communications start to feel like a string of independent messages that aren’t telling a cohesive story.
These communication best practices can help you reconnect with that story, bring renewed energy to your work environment, and improve internal communications at its core.
1. Get laser-focused on your internal comms goals
Effective communication starts with a crystal-clear understanding of why you’re connecting with others. The content of your message might drive what you say, but your goals as an internal comms team need to drive how you say it.
- Are you trying to implement a company-wide digital transformation?
- Are you concerned about retention and employee morale?
Sculpt and improve your internal communications plan by identifying what you want to accomplish. Then, let that top-down purpose drive your decisions, from the stories you choose for your newsletter to the voice you use in writing them.
2. Develop your internal comms “brand” voice
Do you want to create a friendlier place to work? Do you want employees to feel more confident in company leadership? Let the goals of your internal communications strategy drive the voice of your communications.
That voice exists in a symbiotic relationship with company culture. A “corporate” voice can feel distant, while a warm, empathetic tone is more likely to encourage team building, inspire confidence, and raise employee satisfaction.
3. Align your internal comms strategy to what matters
Your internal communication success depends on getting leadership involved. Executives play a massive 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.
EX depends on integrating employees with the company culture so that they find purpose in the value that their organizations provide its customers. Leadership helps to shape this culture. While creating your internal comms strategy, ensuring alignment with company values is essential. Internal comms teams can do this with clearly defined messaging and objectives.
4. Focus on the “customer”—your employees!
The most powerful communication skill you can foster in any comms team is listening. Meaningful conversations require two-way communication. This means opening up internal communication channels and getting to know your audience.
Use internal communication channels, from pulse surveys to in-person, face-to-face interviews to gather employee feedback. Also, consider scheduling regular employee feedback meetings. Ensure that you are creating an environment of trust and respect.
Encourage open communication by utilizing communication channels that make this possible if your internal communications software includes built-in prescriptive analytics and engagement tracking—even better! Use them to learn what engaged employees, specifically, as you want to hone your workplace communication to meet their interests and needs
5. Create an internal messaging guide
Excellent communication has a singular message at its heart. For your internal comms, that central idea might be “When one of us succeeds, we all succeed,” or “We’re strongest when every voice is heard and respected.”
Choose the heart of your message for your internal communication plan and think about that message as you choose your internal language, from the mission statement of your entire company to the tone of your monthly internal newsletter.
6. Craft internal messaging for each segment of your audience
Does your approach to communication change depending on whom you’re trying to reach? Walk through the various segments of your employee audience, from the leadership team and the workers on the line to in-office employees and remote workers, those approaching retirement, and brand-new hires.
Company goals should be shared across every division. Remember that communication gaps will crop up if you don’t hone your messaging by job level, function, department, location, and longevity. Remember to pay special attention to new team members when integrating them into your corporate culture during onboarding.
7. Develop your messaging cadence
Today’s corporate communication uses various communication methods: company emails, social media, employee apps, one-on-one meetings, and everything in between. Consider all your organization’s communication tools and available formats as you design your workflow.
How often will you communicate, and how? For example, an employee newsletter might be monthly, while quick, fun posts might go out daily through internal social channels. Make sure, too, to think about timing employee notifications and surveys too, so that everyone can stay up with current projects without feeling overwhelmed.
8. Build out your internal comms calendar
Plan your calendar to share information around company meetings, performance reviews, quarterly reports, and other vital events affecting common goals across your team. Then, build out the rest of your calendar and add specifics.
When will email newsletters go out? What important dates should employees be reminded about, and what form should those reminders take? Intranet posts? Slack alerts? Smartphone push notifications?
As you design your strategy, remember to include informal communications too. A crucial aspect of relationship building is remembering to check in regularly, even when you don’t need anything—especially when you don’t need anything.
9. Include engaging images and video
When it comes to knowledge sharing, an image is worth a thousand words, and video is one of the best engagement channels a comms team could ask for. As you build your internal comms plan, remember to use a mix of media and content platforms
Memes can be a fun way to communicate company values, while infographics and training videos can help introduce new technologies for remote work, new benefits options, and more. You don’t need a graphic designer or professional actor on your team to branch out into visual media—you just need the right tools.
10. Leverage technology to maximize your impact
In today’s fast-paced environment, busy comms teams often struggle to find time for strategic initiatives. That’s why more and more teams use AI to streamline their workflows and maximize impact. Some of the ways they do this include:
- Syncing across communication channels like email, Slack, and SMS.
- Using proven, automated templates for fast, engaging newsletters.
- Creating media-rich employee experiences with native video.
- Honing their comms strategy with real-time analytics and metrics.
11. Make collaboration a core part of your strategy
You should foster a collaborative environment to deliver outstanding EX and reach your communication objectives.
Promote cross-functional collaboration that helps employees perform better in their roles.
Organize team-building activities that allow organization-wide interactions and facilitate the discovery of common interests. Provide opportunities for employees to develop their communication skills, such as offering them training workshops geared towards effective communication.
12. Incorporate effective communication into performance metrics
Develop methods for recognizing and rewarding effective communication. Providing incentives for proper communication will enhance your efforts throughout the company. You should find creative ways to recognize employees who excel in communication. And reward systems can help you translate effective communication into performance metrics. Internal communications efforts will resonate across teams as effective communication is identified and celebrated companywide.
13. 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 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, it’s time to reevaluate your plan.
How Simpplr can help
Internal communications teams play a huge role in organizational well-being and require the right tools to develop and implement functional processes. Simpplr offers a unified, personalized, and frictionless employee experience that’s easy to implement.
We have a listener suite, and interactive knowledge-sharing capabilities, with real-time insights that make employee communication easy to develop, disseminate and manage across the organization.
Simpplr is purpose-built to build connection, community, and a cohesive culture to provide a framework for attaining your internal communication goals. Book a demo to see our employee experience platform in action.