Communication in the Workplace: How to Build An Internal Community

Todd Kunsman

Head of Marketing

16 minute read

Communication in the Workplace

Communication in the workplace is central to everything in your organization.

And communicating is how everyone efficiently works together, starts building relationships, shares ideas and knowledge, improves transparency, helps manage teams, and more. 

As an individual, good communication skills improves your career, makes you better at your job, but also helps you build your networks that can prove beneficial later on.

Yet, even after realizing the value of communication in the workplace, organizations still face many challenges when beginning to explore building an internal community.

Below you’ll learn:

 

Types of Communication in the Workplace

You might have a pretty good understanding of the types of communication in the workplace, but let’s break it down a bit further. As there are more variations than you might even realize. 

But don’t worry, I’m not going to spend a ton of time on each variation or digress philosophically on all the forms of workplace communication. 

 

Verbal communication

Speaking and being conversational to communicate effectively with others. Generally, it’s the quickest and easiest way to build a working relationship, avoid misunderstandings, and get things done. 

 

Non-Verbal Communication

Think about how much we communicate to our colleagues throughout the day with tacit gestures? Consider what your body language communicates, tone of voice, any facial expressions, eye contact, etc.

Generally this will go along with verbal communications as you’ll naturally do those things, but not always. Without becoming obsessed with “perception management”, a little bit of self-awareness about our unspoken messaging can facilitate better communication in the workplace.

 

Formal Communication

When you are communicating formally, you’re getting information to others in a professional business way. You are keeping things more serious, avoiding too much casual language.

Formal communication often occurs when communicating with a manager, new business partner, or being introduced to someone new in the business setting.

And it is most evident in written form: a cover letter, a resignation letter, a proposal to the CEO, etc.

 

Digital Communications

Includes chat, email, text messages, social media, and any other internal tools you may use to connect with co-workers and managers. 

This became one of the fastest growing means of communications, which also brings up more need for proper etiquette.

Consider establishing company norms such that everyone understands what’s expected with meetings that depend on digital communication: should your other apps be open when sharing a screen, should everyone have their laptop open when in the same room, who mutes and when? Do company dress standards apply to video-conferences?

Stuff like that.

 

Workplace Communications Statistics

It’s a pretty safe bet, that you probably understand how important communications is for you as an individual and to the company you work for. And your managers or company executives probably do as well. 

However, to this day organizations tend to struggle with establishing and maintaining effective internal communications. 

Yet, before we get into how to build an internal community that helps solve some pain points, I wanted to share some data.

I did a deeper dive into communication statistics here, but I think a few are worth sharing here to set up the full topic. 

  •  57% of employees report not being given clear directions and 69% of managers are not comfortable communicating with the employees in general. (HR Technologist)
  • 60% of companies don’t have a long-term strategy for their internal communications. (Workforce
  • 74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news. (Trade Press Services)
  • More than 80% of Americans say employee communication is key to developing trust with their employers. (Lexicon)
  • Employee productivity increases by 20 to 25% in organizations where employees are connected. (Inc)

So even though communications in the workplace is key and its part of our everyday lives, companies still lack results, planning, or a strategy to improve the connection and collaboration between everyone in the organization. 

 

How to Build a Workplace Community

In order to feel as though everyone is valued, respected, and making a contribution in your organization, everyone needs to feel like they are part of a community.

And over the last few years with digital shifts and the subsequent change in employee experience, new generations of workers are not okay being treated as just a “number.” 

Instead, workers are valuing collaboration, feedback, encouragement, and exchanging ideas. This is where the idea of a “workplace community” became essential.

Generally speaking, people are in the office or at their place of work for 40+ hours a week, so it should be a place of work but also fun. 

54% of employees say a strong sense of community (great coworkers, celebrating milestones, a common mission) kept them at a company. (Gusto)

Building an internal community is going to improve knowledge sharing, increase personal employee connections, improve productivity and overall employee engagement, and empower employees of all backgrounds to share their experiences. 

So how can your company begin building an internal community?

 

Steps to Building An Internal Community

 

Utilize employee stories and share bios

One of the best ways brands can start creating a community is to highlight the people who make the company successful — employees!

A good company culture will include people with all different backgrounds, perspectives to bring to the communal table, and constitute a rich diversity. 

Every employee has a unique story, knowledge, and outside interests. Share these stories internally via emails, in meetings, company events, and social media.

Let employees and new hires get to know their colleagues in the ways that feel most natural to them! 

Plus, it shows that your company has a vested interest in the people. It shows that you care about their passions, interests, and skills — no matter what job title they hold within the organization. Learn more about creating and sharing employee stories.

 

Hold company social events

If your company has global offices it might be challenging to bring everyone together in the same location, but without a doubt, company social events will always be an invaluable component to building community.

Nothing compares to bringing people together as contact is how the human trust-batteries are charged up. If you have multiple locations, then hold various social events on some recurring basis. 

Not all events need to be expensive and extravagant, but hosting them in an informal setting can help employees mingle beyond their daily cliques and improve the overall sentiment about their work. 

Examples could be company outings, town halls, company award ceremonies, or even volunteering opportunities for employees to work together and be connected working together for a great cause.

Some companies go all out and schedule team-building activities, but speaking personally: not everyone wants to escape a room or throw an axe. 

Sometimes keeping the events as accessible to the common denominator is best: everyone eats a meal. Keeping social events simple can often facilitate the most comfortable and enduring interaction between employees.

 

Use technology to help

Technology can improve collaboration, feedback, and increase employee interest in the latest happenings at their company.

For example, an employee advocacy platform like Everyonesocial has become a central location for communication in the workplace and internal community building.

  • Employees have access to the latest content, news, and tailored information based on their interests.
  • Employee advocacy users can connect with their colleagues no matter where they are in the world. Follow the profiles of your colleagues, tag them, like and comment on their content or news. 
  • Employees can contribute ideas, content, and share their insights to other colleagues. 
  • An employee platform is a perfect place where your company can highlight employees, departments, new hires, and promotions.
  • Gamification and leaderboard features can charge up some friendly internal competition.
  • Share company news, stories, company culture, employee highlights and more to the outside world via social media. 
  • Depending on the organization, an employee platform such as EveryoneSocial can primarily be an internal communications tool, or a community builder, or an advocacy springboard, or an employee storytelling hub. Or everything employee-related for that matter!

I’m merely scratching the surface here, but this technology has made it easier for communications teams to empower everyone in the organization. 

“The employee advocacy program with its curated content and centralized platform serves as the rallying point to bring your employees together and gives them an online meeting spot to engage, deepen, and strengthen relationships.” – Rani Mani, Adobe 

   

Use employee input to shape corporate values

While you want your employees to feel connected to each other, they have to also feel like a valued member to the company values and mission. While executive teams may guide the final decisions, good ideas and insights will come from employees from all departments. 

An employee platform like EveryoneSocial is the ideal environment for creating an “innovation ecosystem.”

Creating an environment with open discussions, transparency, and welcoming feedback shows employees that you respect their insights and that they play a major role in shaping corporate values. 

Gmail is a perfect example of a hit product that was developed in an innovation ecosystem — what other successes are overlooked because companies neglect to build an internal community and innovation ecosystem?

It should be no secret that your team wants to hear ideas that can benefit employees and the long-term success of the company.

You want to be clear: there is no dictatorship in decision making and the company only succeeds when employees contribute. 

 

Continue building a strong workforce

Do you want communication in the workplace to continue to grow? Do you want your internal community to be sustainable? Then that means working with your human resources and recruiting strategy too. 

When you define the company and know the community values, you are able to hire candidates who surpass the mold and comfortably relate to your growing team.

And when new hires already relate to your communications and community goals, they naturally fit in and build upon the traditions of what your company already established. 

An employee platform takes “culture fit” to the next level: no longer is “fit” about filling a rigid mold, rather culture fit is now about expanding what is expected by a good fit in the first place.

Getting employees active in building internal community is exactly how “fit” becomes fluid and adaptive, and not just a static deadweight mold.

This also helps your organization retain employees who become pillars of your internal community and contribute to the greater success of the brand.

And working with HR helps you find where employees or areas are lacking or identify anyone who could be better activated to assist in building the internal community. 

 

Final Thoughts

These are some of the key steps to building an internal community in the workplace, but your organization may have additional strategy ideas.

The goal is to take this process seriously and work towards creating a culture that the majority of employees will love. 

With an employee platform in place, communications improve, employee engagement and retention increases, company morale grows stronger, and you’ll witness an influx of people who want to join your company (employer branding!) 

When employees feel as though they’re integrated with a community, co-workers and management, work becomes more meaningful and everyone understands their purpose and impact on the company.

 

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