Internal communication has always been a hot topic. It’s the eternal dilemma for many HR managers and internal comms professionals: how to inform your employees about what and when? Besides, 2020 brought another challenge: how to keep all employees involved in the organization remotely? Here are some tips that can help you improve your internal communication and make it more fun.
What is internal communication?
Internal communication consists of all forms of information exchanged within an organization. It can be vertical, horizontal, and concerning both formal and informal messages. This doesn’t only concern company updates or online learning programs but also the small talks at the coffee machine.
Why is internal communication so important?
The main purpose of internal communication is to connect people with the organization. It is the glue that keeps colleagues and departments together. Good internal communication can make employee engagement flourish. Employees feel part of the organization and better cooperate with each other. This not only makes employees feel gratified but also helps them to become more productive and creative. Happy employees radiate their pride and job satisfaction to the customers, bestowing them a positive experience. Not to mention that all those enthusiastic ambassadors also strengthen employer branding, which is an essential focus due to the current labor market. In short: internal communication is crucial for your business to succeed.
8 tips to improve your internal communication
What information should you share and when? How do you reach your employees, especially if they are all at home (like during the lockdown), work across multiple locations, or perhaps even more complicated, if a part is at the office and the other is active in the workplace? We have 8 tips that can help with this.
1. Make a plan
With a good communication plan, you avoid putting out fires and being overwhelmed by everyday issues. These are useful building blocks to start with:
- Assemble a multidisciplinary communication group. Here, representatives from different departments can contribute with ideas about which information to share internally and how.
- Make an inventory of what is going well and what could be improved. You can still use the communication group, but consider also asking the question to the employees themselves. A survey option can come in handy for these purposes.
- Create a content calendar. Some events and important updates come back regularly. Put them on the agenda to get an overview. You can schedule and properly pre-sort the messages. Of course, the calendar doesn’t need to be set in stone: keep space for unexpected events that will need to be shared.
2. Know your employees
Keeping an inventory of the information about the workforce also provides valuable insights for internal communication. Matters such as age, job group, location, and cultural aspects determine interests, language, and media use.
Consciously adjust your internal communication to the retrieved information. Remember: planning, the content of the messages, and tone of voice must match your audience as much as possible if you truly want to reach them.
Tip: A large part of the frontline employees belong to the Gen Z or Millennial generation. They are used to doing almost everything on their mobile, they have a short attention span, growing ambitions, and embrace new forms of content. So consider carefully which content ideas and internal communication tools are interesting for the employees within your organization.
3. Choose your medium carefully
Every company nowadays uses an external website as a business card to get into the spotlight with potential customers or applicants through various social media channels. However, when it comes to internal communication it is wiser to stick to one single channel.
If you spread the way of sharing information through different channels, there is a good chance that a large part will be lost in the maze. At the same time, if you throw the same information into the air via different channels simultaneously, this will be experienced as annoying spam.
Choose one medium for all internal communication. Location and time independence is a must, so by all means, go online. An employee app for the mobile phone is therefore definitely recommended for upgrading your internal communication. Beware that this is user-friendly and accessible to fit your entire workforce regardless of age, location, or job grade.
4. Please the eye
We’ll all agree that entire pieces of text do not invite reading. In this day and age, we’ve all become spoiled for fast interaction and an abundance of entertainment, so we’re way more likely to give up. Make your internal communication attractive.
Alternate words with visuals sprinkled with photos, videos, and GIFs. There is no need to overload. Often it is enough to share some basic information and back them up with links to further documents for the real enthusiasts.
5. Be transparent
No organization has solely sunshine and roses. Sometimes reorganization is necessary, results are disappointing, or people get relocated. No matter how often you say something is confidential, make no mistake about the speed at which news travels through the grapevines – usually accompanied by noise and urban legends.
It is always better to communicate transparently. Inform employees on time about developments, even when it’s not a positive message. Has a problem been identified but still working on the solution? Share internal updates and temporary stances to avoid all kinds of speculation. A good idea is also to invite employees to contribute with insights or feedback. Not only will that help blow off some steam, but it might also lead to some exciting ideas.
6. Facilitate informal contact moments
During the lockdown, the primary cause of stress was the lack of social contact experienced both in private and work. The little chit-chat at the coffee machine, accidentally bumping into each other in the elevator, or eating a sandwich with a colleague: these were all important connecting moments that suddenly disappeared when we were at home.
As we mentioned in the introduction, informal contact not only contributes to employee engagement but also to internal communication. In fact, it is especially during lunch or coffee breaks that employees share and discuss news and company updates.
Working online or on alternating shift patterns that make it difficult for your employees to share those moments, you can facilitate that social interaction through an internal communication platform and turn it into a meeting place. For example, you can organize fun team quizzes or challenges across teams from the entire organization. But also encouraging employees to ask questions and share knowledge. Make sure to have a clear contact list to know who they can contact for each topic.
7. Provide customization
Not everything is interesting to everyone. Some information might be only relevant to a smaller target group. Prevent an avalanche of data, most of which will go unread.
A solution is to split the internal communication platform into different communities. Employees are only added in groups that are relevant to them, such as location or role. Keeping it transparent and accessible is crucial.
8. To measure is to know
Constantly monitor engagement stats. Do you know what topics your employees find interesting? Regularly ask them for feedback via surveys or polls and ensure you always know what is going on in the workplace.
Improve your internal communication with Oneteam
These are just a few of the tips we have in the field of internal communication. Do you want to know how to reach and engage your employees with one platform for all your internal communication? Watch our explainer video below and discover how Oneteam can help you achieve it.