Internal communications used to mean publishing an in-house newsletter, bulletin or sending out e-mails en masse, hoping that people across the organization would eventually read them, and then frantically attempting to manage the deluge of reply-all emails that followed.
Important company news and updates would get lost in spam folders, skimmed over and forgotten, or completely ignored. Weirdly, a lot of companies still do these.
Thankfully, internal communications have evolved with the times, and connecting the workplace has become more intuitive than ever (and in some ways, more complex).
In this article, we’ll take a look at 5 internal communications best practices that companies can use to help increase employee engagement, culture alignment, and open communication.
1. Use a tool that facilitates efficient, free flow of information
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth emphasising the impact the right software has on connecting your workforce. Since mass emails don’t cut it any more, it’s time to move to other, more intuitive platforms that encourage higher rates of participation.
Whether you switch to an intranet, a messaging app, or simply get your people to use a single platform for their email and calendars, your primary goal is to minimise confusion by centralising your content and integrating your internal communications mediums within a single source.
By creating a single internal communications hub for your organisation, you’re going to:
• Drastically reduce the volume of noise your people will have to wade through in order to access and consume important information
• Be able to set up targeted messaging parameters to ensure that the information you’re communicating is sent to the right teams
• Minimize the likelihood of your people missing out on updates (a platform with notification alerts is an excellent way to keep eyes on what’s going on at your workplace)
• Create opportunities for more open, fluid discussion (platforms with comments, chat, shares, and ‘likes’ offer a social media appeal to internal communications)
• Be able to measure and track viewership, engagement, and participation rates, which gives you a better handle on how your information is consumed and acted upon
2. Develop an internal communications strategy
Once you’ve got the desired tool in place, you’ll need to spend some time carefully crafting your internal communications strategy.
A successful internal communications strategy should also answer some of the following questions:
• Does our publication schedule overwhelm our people with too many updates? (Remember: less is more!)
• How active will our leadership team be on our platform, and how will the way they use the platform encourage our people to follow their example?
• What are the goals of our messaging (educate, inform, and/or inspire action)?
• How do our posts support and develop our company culture? (This is extremely important to your people, so make sure you spend extra time thinking this over.)
• How will our internal communications strategy scale with the growth of our organization?
A great internal communications strategy will consider how to repackage information, for employees as well as customers. By interlinking your external and internal communications teams, you cover way more ground.
3. Celebrate employees’ success stories and share wins
Whether it’s in the form of a shout-out, a ‘like’, a ‘favourite’ or an employee spotlight article, a virtual pat on the back is a great way to publicly acknowledge your people and get them active on your platform.
This type of content provides an excellent opportunity to inform people across the organisation about what’s going on, who’s working on what, which goals are being met, and which members of the team are collaborating well. It also gives management an idea of how their people are performing.
4. Support company values and harness those who contribute to the culture
Speaking of company culture, the information you choose to circulate, not to mention the manner in which it’s circulated, plays a large role in defining the culture of your company. Your internal communications strategy should account for this and your team should operate with your company’s values in mind.
A savvy internal communications strategy will put a spotlight on the best advocates of your workplace culture. In some cases, posts or updates shared by your workplace influencers will automatically draw attention and encourage others to contribute.
Remember: your greatest internal communications asset is your people.
5. Create a channel for feedback, debate, and discussion
Another key aspect of internal communications is openness. After all, open communication is a must-have in most workplaces, especially if the goal is to connect and align teams.
To promote open communication at your company, your communications strategy needs to create room for feedback, pushback, and public debate. Internal communication is (or ought to be) a two-way street. Listen to your people and regularly ask for their feedback. That way, if an update or post doesn’t go the way you’d planned, for example, you can learn how to avoid making mistakes in the future.
If your people don’t like the way you’re communicating with them, it’s time to rethink your strategy.
Internal communications best practices have come a long way. Once you centralise your content and develop a thoughtful communications strategy, the puzzle pieces will begin to fall into place. Take advantage of these best practices and you’ll be one step closer to more connected and aligned workplace.