Internal Communications: The Key to Connecting & Engaging Employees

The workforce has shifted with the digital age, implicating full-time employees across the generational divide. This has begun to revolutionize the way executives and their organizations approach internal communications.

Employees are looking for more information, collaboration, opportunities, and transparency. These items not only help your team drive professional success, but helps everyone be connected and more engaged at work.

Let’s Get Started! No matter if you’re new to internal communications or…

…you’re looking to boost your communications strategy, this guide will cover all the essentials you need to know and much more.

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I. 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 has continued to evolve.

So what is internal communications? It’s simply the information and ideas exchanged within the organization.

Internal communications create shared understanding and meaning amongst employees and managers. And only when this happens can employees work together towards a company’s goals, mission, and values effectively.

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 tech devices. Many of which is just noise or irrelevant to them, so the important info is drowned out.

Additionally, not every employee is working at a desk, which can make keeping everyone informed a challenge.

This is why internal communications and having a strategy 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

 

“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

II. Internal Communications Strategy Tips

Without an internal communications strategy, your company’s values get lost, employees are confused about their employer, they are (and feel) less informed, less productive, and much less engaged, etc.

When there are more questions at work, lack of transparency, and limited ways for employees to get involved, there is a stigma 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 lacking 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, you’ll want to analyze it first. 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 is aligning with the business objectives and business strategy.

But then you can start to dig deeper. Start asking questions about your communications, like:

  • What are the business challenges our communications strategy needs to address?
  • How do employees feel about the communications from our company currently?
  • Are employees from different departments, buildings, and locations connected and informed equally? Or are there silos that hinder communication, and cliques between departments?

Just some samples to start figuring it all out, but really dive into your current communications process or strategy.

 

Get Your Messaging Consistent

Similar to how your organization works on its brand voice, your communications and messaging needs a consistency to it.

When you have different tones, various degrees of a mission, or speak differently with all forms of communications, it becomes rather confusing.

This also means, everyone should be on the same page of the business goals, vision, and objectives. Not only should the entire workplace know “what” your business does, but will have a firm understanding of the “why.”

 

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.

Your organization needs to develop and harness a work culture of openness, transparency, trust, and knowledge sharing.

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.

 

Related: With over 20,000 employees across 30 locations and in 6 different languages, creating a unified global corporate culture, driving communications and employer brand was no easy feat for Electronic Arts. Learn how the video game company leveraged employee advocacy to fix those challenges.

 

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 Comms

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.

These metrics can also be used to inform employees of performance of their efforts, goals, and progress.

Pending on what your organization values, some KPIs might not be as important as others. But 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.

Some of these KPIs you might be wondering how to measure correctly. That’s where an employee advocacy platform becomes a crucial part to your communications stack. You can dive a bit deeper into internal communications KPIs here.

III. Internal Communications + Employee Advocacy

“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.” (McKinsey)

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 unachievable through just a comms-strategy or marketing campaign.

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 remote.
  • 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 their 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)

IV. 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.

After doing some research, we found some interesting internal communications statistics, some of which is related to how valued communications are, the current challenges, and more.

We’ve covered some of these in our employee advocacy stats post, but below we are covering more ground as it relates to comms.

 

In this article, they covered plenty about employee communications, but some interesting data points stood out right away:

  • 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 5 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:

  • 74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news. (Trade Press Services)
  • 85% of employees said they’re most motivated when management offers regular updates on company news. (Trade Press Services)
  • More informed employees outperform their peers by 77%. (CEB/Gartner)
  • More than 80% of Americans say employee communication is key to developing trust with their employers. (Lexicon)
  • Disengaged employees could cost organizations over $450 billion dollars per year. This is because when your employees are not engaged, they are not as productive and not committed to your brand. This loss is experienced in wage dollars, retraining time, loss of profit, loss of sales, and much more (Conference Board)
  • Globally, 21% of internal communicators admitted that they do not employ any form of formal planning. That number increases to 31% for communicators in North America. (Gatehouse)



V. Additional Communications 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.