What is internal communication?
Internal communication is the backbone of an organized and productive workplace. Employees and managers who can seamlessly communicate amongst themselves and with each other will be more likely to work together and deliver results in the long run. Encouraging and streamlining internal communication can directly affect the growth of your company.
Smooth internal communication practices can boost employee teamwork, productivity and engagement. The McKinsey Global Institute reports that employee productivity increases by 20-25% in companies where employees are connected.
To get started, you can craft an internal communication strategy and implement the best practices. Internal communication collectively refers to the processes and tools that can facilitate information flow and encourage collaboration among employees. Open and transparent communication will also ensure stronger bonds within the company and align everyone to the values of the company itself.
Different types of internal communication
There are several types of internal communication, and you can combine them to come up with an internal communication plan of your own. The two primary types are:
It refers to the practice of information flowing from the top-down, that is, from the leaders to the employees on the office floor. Downward communication can include announcements, business updates, progress reports and corporate overviews. Leadership-generated communication has many benefits. It is vital for keeping the staff updated about any developments within the company. E-mails and company-wide meetings are effective tools.
Upward or employee-generated communication refers to any communication that travels upwards from employees to managers and more senior members in the company hierarchy. Overlooking this type of internal communication can lead employees to feel left out of the discussion, which would affect their engagement and performance. Employee-generated communication gives every employee a voice to express what they feel without any fear. You can organize discussion forums, virtual suggestion boxes and surveys to start a two-way conversation.
Two-way or bottom-up internal communication is crucial for promoting company culture and efficient working of any company. It allows leaders and managers to convey important information, provide encouragement and track employee progress. At the same time, it allows employees to express their opinions and offer their suggestions. Accepting feedback and acting on them will help you make the workplace friendlier for employees. Maintaining a two-way communication channel will not be difficult if you lay down a few ground rules and encourage active participation.
Other types of internal communication include:
Employees have to develop a bond amongst themselves to work together harmoniously. You can facilitate peer-to-peer or lateral communication with the help of social media hubs, separate communication channels, peer recognition programs and collaborative projects. Effective peer-to-peer communication helps in the development of company culture and problem-solving skills. You can choose to monitor the communication, but it is important not to be too intrusive.
2. Change in administration
Whenever an organization undergoes a massive change, many problems arise in the absence of proper communication. Employees might be fearful of the future and resist the change. Updating them about developments and encouraging discussions surrounding their expectations are essential for keeping employees on board.
Whether it is a large-scale restructuring of the organization or the implementation of new software, clarity will ensure that your employees know how to handle the situation. They have to know why the change is taking place and how it can benefit them. The internal communication plan, in this case, has to combine leadership-generated content with employee-generated content. Employees should be able to ask questions and give their feedback via two-way channels.
3. Culture communications
Fostering a company culture based on trust and transparency will go a long way in reducing your employee turnover. To do this, you have to keep culture communication channels open for internal communication. You can talk about the mission and values of the company, financial performance, employee engagement levels and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
You can also set up rewards and recognition programs so that employees feel inclined to be more productive. Peer recognition can be highly motivational for employees. A recent survey found that recognition from colleagues helped employees feel 90% more satisfied at the workplace. Employees who have a sense of purpose similar to the organization will be valuable in the long run.
4. Conveying information
Delivering information is one of the key purposes of internal communication. The internal communications plan has to ensure that employees are knowledgeable about organizational and legal issues. This also involves informing employees about HR policies and procedures. Employees who are equipped with knowledge and information will be able to offer better services to clients without creating problems for the company. The key is to make sure that the employees have properly understood the information.
5. Crisis management
Unexpected challenges can destroy the company’s stability and force employees to take drastic steps. Proper crisis management is heavily reliant on effective communication. Having a crisis plan and informing employees of pre-crisis protocols and their responsibilities and responses will ensure that they are prepared to face any problem that comes their way.
Effective internal communication tools
To facilitate proper internal communication, you have to take advantage of workplace communication tools that are easy to set up but packed with features.
1. Intranets and forums
You can create a private network or intranet that will serve as a centralized channel for employees to access and share information. All internal communication is stored there, and it becomes the hub for employees to stay updated about the organization. Intranet allows you to share documents, media files and even projects easily. You can make dedicated sections and channels to make the information more navigable for employees. Forums, on the other hand, serve as a platform for employees to converse under different threads, and they can switch between topics as necessary.
2. Instant messaging tools
Instant messaging tools are not new to any of us. We are used to sending texts, photos and videos through instant messengers such as Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. The messages are delivered swiftly, and more employees are likely to feel comfortable using these tools. Instant messaging tools facilitate informal communication because employees do not feel the need to rethink every word. Slack and Flock are popular instant communication tools for corporate purposes. They offer a ton of features and integrations.
3. Learning platforms
With online video training and onboarding procedures becoming more popular, organizations are using learning platforms as a common ground for employees to come together and learn. Firstly, learning as a collective unit provides motivation to employees and encourages healthy competition. Secondly, video learning allows employees to develop personal bonds with their lecturers and they tend to be more attentive during the session. Thirdly, these platforms allow the learners to leave feedback and discuss the lessons. Bites is one such effective learning platform where you can create learning modules in the form of a video playlist and share them with your employees directly.
4. Collaboration tools
Most project management and collaboration tools allow employees to access the same files and work in tandem. With the advancement of cloud-based software, it is now possible for multiple users to access a collaboration tool simultaneously and track every minute change. You can save older versions of the project if necessary and offer real-time feedback. Google Docs is one of the most popular and simplest collaboration tools to exist, and it is completely free.
5. Employee social networks
If you want to increase lateral internal communication within the company, you can look into employee social networks. They have the same features as a public social network but are more private, which means that employees will be able to discuss work-related subjects without fear. These social networks help in team building because they serve as an exclusive space for employees.
6. Video chatting tools
The pandemic has proved why video chat tools can be one of the cornerstones of internal communication. Skype, Zoom, Google Meet and other video chat tools allow employees to bond even if they are located in different places. These tools are valuable for promoting internal communication between on-site workers and remote workers, and amongst the remote workers themselves. Being face to face allows everyone to connect visually.
Best practices for internal communication strategy
Formulating an internal communication strategy will become simple once you take the needs of your organization into account. Figuring out your core metrics for success will allow you to customize your internal communication strategy and introduce regular updates.
- Setting realistic goals is important, or else you will be overwhelmed. It can take some time to test the effectiveness of your plan, and you have to set achievable goals for it to work.
- Segmenting your employees and personalizing the strategy will ensure that you waste no resources. Communication will also feel more personal.
- Choose your internal communications tools carefully based on the preferences of your employees. According to the McKinsey Global Survey, social tools in the workforce allowed employees to communicate more freely, and 80% of employees ended up communicating more often with other team members.
- Establishing a centralized database of information for employees to reference as and when necessary can reduce unnecessary communication.
- Encourage conversation in the workplace without reinstating the work hierarchy. Employees have to be comfortable speaking to more senior leaders to integrate into the organization fully. A respectful two-way conversation benefits both the employer and the employee.
- Building connections with a multi-generational workforce is not easy because preferred communication styles differ significantly between younger and older generations. It is important to employ a wide range of business communication tools so that everyone feels comfortable. At the same time, older and younger employees should have the opportunity to collaborate and enlighten each other about new communication solutions.
- If you practice what you preach, you will find it relatively easy to implement an impressive work culture. Employees will feel loyal towards the company when they share the same values and resonate with the mission statement.
Why is internal communication important?
You should not underestimate the importance of internal communication in today’s work era. A well-connected workforce can even tackle a pandemic efficiently.
1. Increased employee engagement
The State of the American Workplace survey by Gallup found that a mere 33% of US employees are committed to their work. The turnover rate for disengaged employees is also 10% higher as compared to engaged employees. Implementing the best internal communication practices will help boost engagement significantly because employees will get a chance to develop personal relationships with their peers, managers and leaders. If they feel that their voice is being heard, they will be more likely to contribute.
2. High productivity
Seamless communication amongst employees ensures that they do not waste any time. They can get their doubts cleared and their questions answered within minutes which lets them get back to work swiftly. A well-connected workplace also encourages healthy competition which motivates employees to be more productive.
3. Information supply
Often times, employees might feel left out of a certain conversation because they were busy something else. It can also happen that they miss important announcements and updates. An internal communication plan ensures constant information supply so that everyone at the workplace is on the same page.
4. Better employee experience
If you want to increase employee retention, you have to focus on improving the employee experience. A friendly and cohesive work environment helps employees feel accepted into the organization. They also value the opportunity to voice their opinions and communicate with senior leaders.
5. Shared goals
Employees who are well acquainted with the goals and objectives of the organization are more likely to be loyal. Having clarity regarding their role in the company allows them to perform to their potential.
6. Set clear expectations
Internal communication is crucial for conveying your expectations to employees. For example, something as simple as setting deadlines will be much easier if you are well acquainted with the employee and their working pattern. If you have any specific requirements, feel free to explain it to them in detail.
7. Boosts action
Swift and clear internal communication can boost internal and external action because the listeners will be more likely to respond.
8. Crisis preparation
Internal communication serves as a valuable tool for a company that is facing a crisis. Employees can communicate with each other swiftly and get things done instead of being overwhelmed.
9. Makes technology integration easier
Organizations are updating their technologies to beat the competition. Strong internal communication allows employees to respond and adjust to new systems faster.
10. Brand promotion
Employees who truly understand the company and its values can help strengthen its reputation by being vocal advocates. Employee-oriented brand-building is effective because customers and clients can connect with the company on a more personal level.
Bites is an online learning platform that is revolutionizing workplace learning one bite at a time. You can create bites or short videos on any relevant topic and build a training module with ease.
Once you have the playlist ready, you can share it with your employees directly, even through instant messaging platforms like WhatsApp. Bites encourage employees to engage in visual learning as a community, sparking discussions and interesting questions.
Learners can also use the forum to leave feedback. You can monitor their progress with the help of the analytics dashboard and provide them with progress reports from time to time. With Bites, you will establish a two-way learning communication channel that will prove to be invaluable.