The Digital Strategy Guide
As technology changes and younger generations enter the workforce, a generational divide emerges. This revolutionizes the way organizations must approach internal communications.
Employees want more information, collaboration, opportunities, and transparency. These items not only help your team drive professional success, but they also help everyone connect and engage more at work.
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What Is Internal Communications?
Ready for the deep dive into internal communications? Jump into the journey below.
If you are coming to this extensive guide, you may already work in communications or know the basics of this concept. If so, feel free to skip down to the next chapters.
But if you want to stick with us, we’ll put our own definition to internal communications and how it’s evolved.
Internal communications is simply the information and ideas exchanged within the organization. This internal function creates shared understanding and meaning among employees and managers. When this occurs, employees can effectively work together toward the company’s mission and goals.
Additionally, sometimes internal communications is dubbed “employee communications,” but just note that these terms are pretty interchangeable today.
The Importance of Internal Communications
Internal communications — as mentioned in the previous section — is evolving. Employees have access to tons of information and content via the web and various devices. However, much of this info is just noise or irrelevant to them, which drowns out important messages.
Additionally, not every employee works at a desk, which makes keeping everyone informed a challenge.
This is why internal communications is incredibly important for organizations, especially large and enterprise brands.
Here are a few reasons internal communications is important to your organization:
- Keeps your people more informed
- Helps build your organization’s work culture
- Increases employee engagement
- Creates transparency and trust among the entire company
- Provides more opportunities for people within the company to learn, be trained, and feel connected
- Creates an environment open to feedback, debate, and discussion
- Improves overall employee experience
Research indicates that workers have three primary needs: interesting work, recognition for doing a good job, and being let in on things that are going on in the company. – Zig Ziglar
Who Is Responsible For Communications?
Your company CEO, CMO, and others of the C-suite have one of the largest roles in communications. They guide the culture and the brand’s direction, and they need to keep the entire company in the loop
The C-suite also needs to be heard from (and seen) on a consistent basis — whether communication is through emails, content distribution (blog posts, letters, videos, etc.), communication software, or a combination of those. Employees want to trust and feel connected to their business leaders.
Managers who lead various teams and departments also faciliate internal communications among their people. Managers need to ensure employees are valued, understand the goals, are aligned with the company vision, and feel like their work is makes an impact.
While communicating company mission and goals comes from top-level or specific communication leaders, employees are also valuable to internal and external communications. Employees want to be heard, share ideas, and learn from others, so let them create and share content, provide insights or knowledge, suggest ideas that could be used to improve the business, etc.
It’s about building a workplace community where employees feel safe becoming part of the conversation and can collaborate more with colleagues.
Is Internal Communications A Part of HR?
While organizations may have a team for internal communications, organizations must involve HR in any tactics or strategy that involves employees. Communication is such a vital part of the way employees experience and succeed in the company, so HR leaders will be valuable in building trust in the workplace. In some companies, HR may manage all communications as well.
Internal Communication Trends
With the digital space rapidly changing and remote work growing (especially after the 2020 pandemic), there are important communications trends to understand. For many organizations, it can be challenging to keep up as your communications strategy will need to evolve and adapt over time.
So what are some of the current trends?
Empowering Your Frontline Works
Harvard Business Review’s “The New Decision Makers” reveals how organizations can leverage mobile technology to ensure frontline workers are informed and engaged. Some of the survey findings:
- 85% of respondents say their organization will be more successful when frontline employees are empowered to make decisions in the moment.
- 72% said productivity increased when they empowered frontline employees.
More Executives Supporting Digital Communications
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced many organizations to scramble into remote work and distributed teams in various timezones around the world. This also increased the need for executives and leadership to find ways to communicate and connect with their teams more effectively.
It’s not even a “trend” as this is something ALL companies should prioritize anyway, but many organizations are now doubling-down.
According to the KPMG 2020 CEO Outlook: COVID-19 Special Edition, ”77% of CEOs say they will expand their digital communication tool chest for greater communication and collaboration.” Technology and communication tools are an essential part of keeping teams organized, aligned, engaged, and feeling connected to their company.
The employee experience also matters more than ever. When employees feel disconnected from the business and there is a lack of transparency, the organization’s productivity and initiatives will struggle.
Freelance and Gig Economy Workers
Not only do organizations have more remote workers or frontline employees, but freelance and gig-economy workers are also more prevalent. This trend continues to grow and makes it more obvious that internal communicators need to reach these folks better as well.
More than one-third of US workers (36%) participate in the gig economy, either through their primary or secondary job. And it’s only growing!
To engage these types of employees, communication efforts will have to be on their terms and fit into their lifestyle. Apps and other forms of technology are critical for these workers. But companies that employ freelancers or gig-economy workers will need their own separate communications strategy as their needs may differ greatly from full-time staff.
Internal Communications Strategy Tips
Without an internal communications strategy, your company’s values get lost, and employees are less informed, less productive, and less engaged.
Limited information, a lack of transparency, and few ways for employees to get involved fosters a culture of uncertainty, frustration and distrust.
The list of challenges goes on, but one thing is clear: it is detrimental to your organization if your company’s communication is lacks a clear strategy.
Here are some internal communication strategy tips your organization should consider.
Explore and Analyze Your Current Strategy.
If your organization has an internal comms strategy in place, analyze it. Of course, if your company does not actively have one, feel free to skip on to the next tips!
If you are reading this section, you probably know your company’s communications strategy needs a boost.
First, you really need to figure out if your communications aligns with the business’ objectives and business strategy.
But then you can dig deeper and ask questions like these:
- What are the business challenges our communications strategy needs to address?
- How do employees feel about current company communications?
- Are employees from different departments, buildings, and locations connected and informed equally? Or are there silos that hinder communication and create cliques between departments?
Ensure Your Messaging is Consistent
Similar to how your organization works on its brand voice, your communications and messaging need to be consistent, too.
When you have different tones or speak differently from one channel to the next, it’s confusing.
Let Employees Share Their Voices.
Communications can’t be a one way street. Meaning, your internal communications strategy should include — and encourage — employees to share their voices.
This fosters trust among employees and executives, and workers are more engaged when they see firsthand how they contribute to the business outside of their job duties.
Be open to feedback, questions, and ideas from your team, encourage them to join and spark conversations.
This will create a trust between employers and their executives. And it will create more engagement with their work when they know they are contributing to the business in ways outside their job duties.
Employee involvement can stem from department or face-to-face meetings, training sessions, internal social media, company networking events, etc.
Avoid Communication Overload.
Since we are bombarded with information daily, communication overload can be a problem. As much as you want to keep your team informed, you want to find the right balance of communication flow.
It also can be hard to cut through all the noise, so the last thing you want to do is cause employees to ignore your messaging because of it being too frequent.
Finding a balance and breaking up your communications will be key. Yet, you also do not want to leave important information out, otherwise your strategy starts to break down.
It’s a fine line to figure out, but luckily there are simple solutions like an employee advocacy platform to help. But more on that in the next main section.
Embrace Technology to Streamline Communications.
In today’s digital environment, there are plenty of technologies that make our lives easier. At the same time, implementing too much tech can also be frustrating.
Having the wrong tech in place or too many options can create communication overload and be distracting. Thus, not helping your communication strategy.
Since internal communications challenges and focus on strategy has grown, there are many great technologies to help streamline the process. By using the right ones, you ensure employees enjoy using them and continue using for the foreseeable future.
Some examples of communications tech:
- Using a cloud service like Google Drive for collaboration on documents, presentations, etc.
- Adopting an employee advocacy platform like EveryoneSocial. This acts as the central hub for content, allows feedback (comments, engagement, tagging others), mobile use, push notifications and email options, social sharing for important content, user-generated capabilities, and measurement on results.
- Also, your organization can use a chat service for internal use like Slack or Yammer to coincide with the above.
Nail Down Important KPIs.
Like any process or strategy, you want to measure the results of your efforts. With internal communications, you must identify the important KPIs and continue to monitor them.
These metrics can also be used to inform employees of performance of their efforts, goals, and progress.
Here are a few to consider measuring.
- Corporate email opens
- Link clicks in corporate emails
- Attendance for training or town halls
- Social shares
- Traffic results from social shares
- Technology use like logins, comments, time in platform, etc.
An employee advocacy platform makes measuring these KPIs a breeze. Dive deeper into internal communications KPIs.
Evaluate Communications Progress.
Your communications process should evolve as needed, so it’s important to regularly evaluate and refine it.
Try quarterly or monthly evaluations of your employee communications strategy. Ask business leaders and employees about the current communications, using questions like these:
- Do you feel you are communicated with and informed with properly?
- Are you aware of the company mission, values, and goals?
- Is there consistent transparency and communications from company level, department level, and/or team level?
- Do you feel your voice, ideas, and knowledge are being communicated and valued?
While evaluating may seem bland, it’s instrumental in helping you improve areas of the communications process.
Internal Communications Tools
In today’s digital age, technology and apps are essential to internal comms, but finding the balance in tech is key, so you don’t overload employees with tools.
However, simplifying this process can be easy.
When companies use social media internally, messages become content; a searchable record of knowledge can reduce, by as much as 35%, the time employees spend searching for company information.
Instead of just a strategy, what if more organizations implemented a communications platform that amplifies the existing rapport with teammates, while also integrating with external networks?
Well, this is where employee advocacy programs are fitting into the communications equation.
Typically thought more for marketing and sales, employee advocacy is also becoming the center of all employee communications too.
By aligning an internal comms program (i.e. strategy + platform) with an external marketing campaign, the brand’s value, perceived sentiment, and authenticity all reach new levels of transparency that are unachievable through just a comms-strategy or marketing campaign alone.
So, how does it work? An employee advocacy program is built around your employees, a central hub for all content and communication activity.
Here’s how it applies with your internal comms strategy:
- Personalize content, news, company info, and updates that employees have access to; share to social accounts, and leave comments, engage, and tag other employees.
- Push communications and announcements to desktop, mobile, and email to unify employees who are on the move or working remotely.
- Employees contribute to the conversation and become part of the content-creation process, becoming more engaged, involved, and productive.
- Everything managed in one location, with key features like reporting for analyzing and improving engagement, and integrations with other tools and platforms.
- Reduces content noise by categorizing topics, departments, etc. Allowing employees to be subscribed automatically or let them subscribe and create their own personal streams.
The above is exactly how our clients leverage EveryoneSocial, with a major focus on communications to build a connected workplace community, especially if the organization has global offices.
However, to reap the full benefit of employee advocacy, your organization must transform its structures, processes, and cultures: they will need to become more open and create a workplace of trust.
The power of employee advocacy as an internal comms platform will rely on enthusiastic participation of employees who are not afraid to share their thoughts and trust that their contributions will be respected.
Use of social software by employees can improve productivity by 20-25%. (McKinsey)
Internal Communications Statistics
Now that we dove into the basics, strategy tips, and how employee advocacy is connected, it’s great to also understand some data. We sprinkled a few statistics in the above sections, but below here is a more comprehensive dive.
We’ve covered some of these in our employee advocacy stats post, but below we cover more ground as it relates to comms. Here are some interesting data points:
- Employees often spend up to two hours a day (which equals one quarter of the work week) worrying and gossiping.
- Confusion and frustration usually motivate your best employees to leave first, and it costs an average of 150% of their annual salaries to replace them.
- Employees who feel like they are genuinely listened to by their managers are nearly five times more likely to have high job enthusiasm and 21 times more likely to feel committed to their company than those who do not feel listened to.
- Successful company communication programs tend to produce the best results in financial figures, productivity, and shareholder returns.
Here are some other communications data points worth noting:
Additional Communication Resources
Congratulations for coming this far with this in-depth piece on internal communications! Hopefully, you have learned a lot about the importance of employee communications, strategy tips, and more.
If you are interested in boosting communications, keeping employees informed, and driving knowledge-sharing, an employee advocacy platform has your company’s name on it. You can learn more about EveryoneSocial here.
Lastly, before we complete this content, we thought it was worth sharing with you some additional resources and content that will be useful to expanding your communications knowledge.
- How to Build An Employee Communications Strategy That Unifies Your Team
- Internal Communications: The KPIs Your Company Needs to Measure
- Top Communication Tools Organizations Should Consider Today
- How Cyxtera Built A Connected Global Culture With Employee Advocacy
- How Corporate Communications Benefits from Employee Advocacy
- How Electronic Arts Used Employee Advocacy to Ignite Their Corporate Culture
Frequently Asked Questions
What is internal communications?
Internal communications is simply the information and ideas exchanged within the organization. Focusing on communications is what creates shared understanding and meaning among employees and managers. When this occurs, employess can effectively work together toward the company’s mission and goals.
What is the role of communications?
The role of communications in your company is to help ensure that company messages, news, and vision is understood and valued among employees. While all businesses should prioritize internal communications, large and enterprise companies must focus heavily on effective communications or productivity, engagement, and overall business can suffer.
Why do we need internal communications?
In addition to keeping employees informed, internal comms also help establish a connected workplace community where people trust their employers, feel acknowledged, and are motivated and interested in their work.
What is an internal communications strategy?
An internal communications strategy helps your organization remove any stigma of uncertainty, frustration, and distrust from employees. Here are some tips for building an effective communications strategy:
- Analyze your current strategy
- Get your messaging consistent
- Let employees share their voices
- Avoid communication overload
- Embrace technology to streamline comms
- Measure important communication KPIs