How a company communicates with the world is one thing; how it communicates internally with employees requires an entirely different strategy. Having a well-thought-out and expertly executed internal communication strategy is critical, because
- It helps employees understand where their work fits into the larger picture. Key to any company’s success, first-line workers must be kept engaged through company-wide updates.
- It ensures that employees feel seen, which contributes to morale and retention. This requires a commitment to two-way communication.
- It can be used to communicate company-wide goals to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Reaching first-line workers with updates relevant to their specific job is critical.
- It can boost engagement across the organization, which tends to lead to boosts in collaboration and productivity. Analytics are critical to determining if employees are truly engaging with internal communications.
Internal communications should never be an afterthought or something performed on the fly. Failing to make strategic internal communications a priority is a missed opportunity to boost employee loyalty, enthusiasm and efficiency. It’s also a missed opportunity to ensure that when employees go home, they are talking up your company, not sharing gripes about it that might drive away potential clients.
What is internal communication?
Internal communication encompasses all the methods that organizations use to deliver important information to employees, including
- The company’s chosen email platform, which is typically used for newsletters, recaps or important news and the promotion of internal events
- Enterprise social network platforms such as Yammer are used for synchronous communication
- The company intranet, such as SharePoint, largely acts as a resource for new content and key resources
- Chat-based workplaces such as Microsoft Teams are designed for all-day collaboration
Create a strategic communications plan
A company’s employees are its most valuable asset. If you don’t already have a strategic communications plan for this key constituent group, making one is a great first step. This will essentially be your roadmap for creating a more connected, engaged and productive workforce.
Start by defining your desired outcomes. In other words, what do you hope to accomplish? By setting your desired outcomes first, you’re creating a destination to work toward, and that will make it easier to determine the steps you need to take. Then, work backward from there by mapping out the steps to your desired outcomes.
Next, you need to identify the communications tools at your disposal. Signs, newsletters, the company intranet, employee surveys, instant messenger apps, video chat apps, email and digital collaborations platforms are all common internal communications tools in the modern workplace.
Determining the right tool for a specific job should be based on whether communication should be top-down or two-ways between leadership and employees. Choice of tools should also be based on the need for synchronous or asynchronous communication. Synchronous communication tools like instant messenger apps are used for real-time discussions. Asynchronous tools like SharePoint and newsletters are used for communications that don’t require a prompt response – or any response at all.
In addition to objectives and tools, a robust communications plan should also include:
- Detailed but adaptable policies and procedures
- Internal communication best practices for different employee groups
- Templates and examples that can be reused and consulted for standardization and continuity
Craft policies and procedures for reaching your objectives
What will you communicate, to whom and when? Your policies and procedures for communicating internally are like the vehicle you take to get to your intended destination. Well-defined internal communications guidelines ensure a cohesive approach regardless of who is carrying out the communication.
While policies and procedures should provide as much detail as possible for how to communicate with whom and under what circumstances, your plan should also leave room for flexibility. You can’t anticipate every situation under which or about which you may need to communicate with employees, so be sure that your policies and procedures aren’t overly restrictive.
For instance, a policy might be that you communicate with employees on a regular basis to ensure they are up to date on important company news and compliance information. The related process would spell out how you do that. In general, it’s a good idea to wait until you have a certain number of non-urgent news items to create and send out a company newsletter or bulletin. By not clogging up employees’ email inboxes with messages on a regular basis, you increase the likelihood that they will actually open your messages when you send them.
Segment your audience to better connect with them
Some messaging should go out to everyone at the organization. For instance, this includes important announcements from the C-suite that impact everyone, news about company awards and recognition, or compliance information that everyone needs to do their jobs. However, not all employees need to know or care about the same things.
Likewise, different employee groups may engage at varying levels with different kinds of communications. For example, first-line employees who do not work in an office seated in front of a computer might open email messages at a lower rate than those who are office-based.
Just as you would segment external communications to best reach and engage with your external stakeholders, it’s important to understand that your company’s employees are a diverse group of individuals and segment accordingly. Not only do they have different jobs within the organization, but they also may have different communication preferences, different levels of technology savvy and different information needs.
Use deep analytics to understand your audience
How do you know what’s working and what isn’t for maximizing the impact of your internal communication? It’s not enough to have a vague sense of what works or to go by what a small sample of employees says about your communication efforts. You need a powerful analytics tool to extract data from your current efforts. That data is valuable for informing your strategic communication plan and your day-to-day efforts.
For example, if you’re finding that a particular format of messaging or specific message was really well received and opened by employees across the organization, you might use it to create a template for similar future messages. Determining what works and building templates off those findings not only saves you time down the line but also ensures that if your organization’s internal communications duties eventually fall on someone else, there will continue to be consistency in how that communication happens.
Refining an internal communications plan requires looking at the right KPIs. One of the most insightful KPIs for internal communications is adoption. This is a measure of which employees have adopted which platforms. For example, all employees at a company could have access to the intranet, but only some employees might have access to email.
Reach is another big KPI for internal communications. This metric reveals the number of unique individuals that has been reached by a specific communication. Comparing reach to the size of the target audience can indicate the success of individual messages.
Engagement is an internal communications metric that indicates the number of replies, likes, shares and other responses that a message has garnered. This KPI can indicate which messages have truly resonated with the target audience.
Analytics tools are fundamental to measuring KPIs. If you’re not yet familiar with Tryane’s suite of enterprise analytics tools, you’re missing a key opportunity to understand what’s working and what could use some fine-tuning in your communication efforts. Tryane gives communication professionals the data to make better decisions about how to communicate internally by showing them how and to what extent employees across the organization are engaging with company messaging on popular tools like Microsoft Teams, Yammer and SharePoint.
If you’re ready to take your internal communications to the next level, let Tryane show you the way. Contact us to learn more about our products, ask questions and sign up for a free trial.