Create an effective internal communication plan in 8 steps

Sander Kalkman

Sander Kalkman

With an internal communication plan, employees always know what is going on in your organization, the company goals, and what is expected from them. Even if something suddenly changes, they’re up to date and know what to do. It’s the perfect combo to boost their engagement, motivation, and how well they can do their job.

Last updated on June 14

Table of Contents

What is an internal communication plan? 

In an internal communication plan, the communication department sets out objectives, target groups, activities, strategies, and periodical resources.

For example, if there is a busy peak time ahead, or a lot has changed internally. Or if you just want more guidance about your communication.

Why should you draw up an internal communication plan? 

Simple, because good, creative internal communication makes your employees enthusiastic, involved, and motivated. They become the ambassadors of your organization faster and better connect with each other and other departments, instead of losing their interest and support for your organization.

A communication plan is a great way to write down your approach. It will help you explain to your stakeholders how your strategy contributes to the organization’s broader goals and help you stay focused on your objectives. It is very beneficial in times of crises or sudden change.

For example, suppose companies in the retail and hospitality sector have to close their doors for a long time due to government measures. In that case, they can fall back on their internal communication plan to find out which digital means you can use to keep your frontline employees engaged.

What are the components of a good internal communication plan? 

We have listed 8 steps that will help you draw up an internal communication plan. 

Keep in mind: not every organization is the same – an internal communication plan for the reorganization of a large hotel will look very different from the one used by a fashion chain that is about to introduce a new product line.

So before you start, make it clear to yourself WHY you are doing it, WHO it is intended for and WHAT your main goal is. Based on the answers to those questions, you can start forming the initial framework of your plan.

  • Step 1: Assess from start to finish

Before you can get started on creating a new and improved internal communication plan, you first need to assess your current situation. Which aspects of your internal comms strategy are working well and where could you improve? How far away are you from achieving your objectives? Do you even have a clear strategy currently to improve upon?

Begin by mapping out the situation your organization finds itself in and where you would like to arrive within a certain period. Analyze your current communication strategy, where it often goes wrong, and how your plan can help solve this.

Trends and developments within your target group, sector, market or society may also be relevant. For example, your organization may want to focus more on sustainability or inclusivity.

Break down your current internal communications plan into different sub-sections to more accurately assess its effectiveness. 

  • How do you communicate with new hires during the pre-boarding process? 
  • Does internal communication feature within the onboarding process?
  • Are your communications relevant for all your employees – including your frontline workers?
  • Do you collect feedback using employee surveys?
  • Is your communication top-down or can all employees contribute?
  • What role does your internal communication play in reinforcing your company culture?

 

Come up with a detailed evaluation of your current approach to internal communications. Once that’s complete, you are ready to start crafting a new plan.

Internal Communication Infographic
  • Step 2: Make objectives measurable with KPIs 

Once you have assessed your current strategy and established your long-term goals, it’s time to formulate more concrete internal communication objectives. It’s important to make sure they’re measurable by establishing several KPIs.

This way, you can easily keep track of your progress, agree on achievements, and map out the endpoint of your plan. Remember to formulate goals and KPIs according to the SMART criteria, aka Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. 

Some of the most commonly measured KPIs for internal communication include:

  • Page visits and logins
  • Employee engagement rates
  • Read receipts
  • Adoption rates for new digital solutions
  • Feedback
  • Employee advocacy rates
  • Employee retention figures

 

Your KPIs should be chosen carefully and closely connected to your goals. Arbitrary KPIs will provide you with plenty of data – but it won’t necessarily be useful.

Among leading marketers, 95% believe that to “truly matter” KPIs must be tied to broader business goals. Be sure to keep these goals front of mind when deciding how to evaluate your internal communications.

You can’t improve what you can’t measure. So make sure you’re keeping track of how your internal communications strategy is performing. Don’t rely on best guesses or even anecdotal evidence. Use data-backed KPIs to determine your success level.

  • Step 3: Divide tasks and resources

Have you clearly defined your goals and how to measure them? If so, it’s time to determine the different phases of your new internal communications plan and schedule who will be responsible for executing each step.

Don’t forget to make the plan accessible to everyone involved and keep them informed about the project’s progress.

A solid internal communication plan template is created by allocating your resources appropriately. Who is going to take lead on your plan? Do you have an established internal communications team or will workers from other departments be involved?

For example, a study by employee engagement consulting firm Karian & Box found that, when a dedicated internal communications team wasn’t available, 21% of respondents believe that public relations personnel should take the lead, while 18% think it should be assigned to HR. In either case, make sure you clearly define each individual’s role within the plan.

Dividing your plan up between different stakeholders means you can acquire feedback during the process at every step. It means your strategy is transparent and everyone is on board.

Crucially, it also ensures that you don’t end up piling too much work on top of communication leaders by making them responsible for every task. Instead, you can make your internal communication project a company-wide effort.

  • Step 4: Know your employees

A good internal communication plan has clearly defined target groups. You can determine your targets based on all kinds of factors such as location, age, and function within the organization. But also how long someone has been working for you.

For example, when it comes to service desk employees, they’re usually young, work part-time, and their turnover rate may be higher than the rest of the company. Communication must adapt appropriately.

Whether your organization is largely made up of office workers or frontline employees, involving your members of staff in your internal communications plan is essential.

Not only will this ensure your strategy is relevant – but it will also guarantee your workers feel that their opinion matters, which has benefits in other areas of your company.

Good internal communications, informed by regular employee input, are essential to creating a positive employee experience – which leads to higher levels of engagement and productivity.

Ultimately, keep in mind that you write your plan for your employees – so it’s good to keep them involved. Talk to them about what could be improved and what they find essential for their information needs. How do they prefer to be approached, and what’s the best language to use? 

Tip: Keep the posts understandable to everyone, and avoid using complicated terms and buzzwords.

  • Step 5: Determine your strategy 

So what are you trying to achieve, and how will you keep your employees engaged and motivated? Write down your strategy and substantiate your choices.

Clarity and transparency will help you reduce the chances that employees will draw other plans that deviate from your vision.

It’s easy to get slightly lost when exploring the multi-faceted world of internal communications. What does the term mean exactly? What needs to be included in an internal communication plan? Are there other internal communication plan examples to learn from? And why is it important?

Fortunately, a step-by-step approach will help you formulate a clear communication plan.

Once your long-term goals, KPIs, and communication personnel are in place, make sure your strategy is consistently applied across all channels. Share your plan with other stakeholders and seek their input to guarantee your plan is on track to meet its objectives. Data also helps here, so keep an eye on how different communication channels are performing.

What’s more, remember that an effective internal communication strategy should be constantly evolving. Regularly review your strategy and make updates as new ways of working and employee behaviors develop.

  • Step 6: Devise key messages 

Write down in one or two sentences the core message that makes the essence of your communication plan clear. These messages should be based on your goals; a good core message is straightforward, sincere, and inspiring. 

The tone that you use as part of your messaging is hugely important and can say a lot about an organization’s culture and values. Keep things professional but don’t be afraid of showing off the human side of your organization.

Deliver your message in a friendly, warm, and uplifting manner. And where relevant, make sure your messaging is personalized for different audiences and individuals.

In addition, don’t forget that any core message should form part of a two-way dialogue. The type of messages you send out for this sort of communication should be different from those you employ for top-down updates. It will be more collaborative and open.

Internal communications aren’t about telling your employees something, it’s about talking to them.

Tip: Key messages are often more easily remembered by people if you make them visually appealing. Repeat them often and communicate them through different media.

  • Step 7: Choose the right communication tools and channels 

In this step, determine which internal communication tools and channels you will use and how you will use them. Take a good look at your objectives and target groups from the previous steps: not every channel is relevant to every objective or target group.

For example, a department with mainly young people may like a vlog or infographic more than a PowerPoint or paper handout. 

For instance, 75% of Gen-Z employees said they would rather have difficult conversations via text than over the phone. However, email remains important to them – 58% check their emails frequently every day.

There are now a host of different communication tools available to businesses, from social intranets to employee apps and each comes with its own strengths.

Don’t assume anything about a particular employee demographic and the types of communications they prefer – ask them!

The time when you send out internal communications is also important for all kinds of employees and communication channels. Messages sent at 4:30 pm on a Friday are more likely to get overlookers than those sent after everyone’s finished their morning coffee.

Too many messages are also likely to result in a lack of engagement – try to avoid information overload. Remember, it’s not just what you’re communicating that’s important but when and how you’re communicating it too. 

Tip: Transfer your communication strategy into a calendar so that you have a good overview of when you perform which action and for whom.

Internal Communication Example
Example of internal communication with Oneteam
  • Step 8: To measure is to know 

Great! You have your internal communication plan set up, but it is also essential to evaluate the results. Determine in advance how you will reflect on your achievements and quantify the results.

Which instruments do you need for this, and how can you use them effectively? What are the important metrics to measure? Are you going to look at smaller details like email open rates or focus on big-picture metrics like employee retention or productivity?

All these aspects are influenced by your internal communications plan, so there’s plenty to measure. 

Look at trends within your organization to determine whether your plan is reaching your target audience across all the relevant channels. Evaluate the measurements you take and discuss ways you can improve on them – then set yourself a new target.

Ultimately, whatever you decide to set as the goals for your internal communication plan will determine what you should be keeping track of. But whatever your goals are, make sure you keep on top of the corresponding measurements. That’s the only way of knowing if you’ve got a good internal communication plan or not. 

The next step in improving internal communication 

Does your organization suffer from information overload? Are you tired of the maze of different ways you can reach your colleagues? Or that critical information is not read by everyone, and that one group of employees is still not a member of your intranet page? 

With Oneteam’s mobile-first internal communication platform, you bring all your communication together on one user-friendly, interactive employee platform accessible to everyone. Internal communication with colleagues, departments, and locations can be a lot easier, leading to more employee engagement and satisfaction.

Curious how? Watch the explainer video below and request a guided product demo.

Sander Kalkman

Sander Kalkman

Sander Kalkman is the VP of Marketing at Oneteam. He mainly writes about internal communication and other marketing-related topics.Fun fact about Sander: He also writes articles for Frankwatching, a popular marketing media site in the Netherlands.

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