Internal communications is one of those vital processes that demands a series of best practices.
When a company is effectively communicating with managers and employees, it boosts engagement, collaboration and communication — all of which contribute to greater profitability. According to a report from Holmes, effective communication from leadership resulted in a 47 percent higher return to shareholders over the course of five years.
Internal communication problems within big corporations have always been an issue, but with the rise of remote work and other factors, communication has gotten even more difficult. For instance, the lack of face-to-face interaction could make work more difficult for employees.
However, it is not enough to simply beat remote workers over the head with emails and Zoom meetings. Many employees complained about meetings before the pandemic and holding too many meetings over Zoom only made for one more reason to complain.
Clearly, the communication challenges businesses face are constantly changing. In addition to the pandemic changing the way we communicate at work, communications technology is constantly changing. There is no clearly defined list of barriers to internal communication channels, as each company is unique.
That doesn’t mean, though, that there aren’t some internal communications best practices that can help all organizations improve. Consider the following best practices for addressing internal communications challenges.
Rely on Internal Influencers
It’s easy for internal communications personnel to get stuck in the rut of churning out messages and trusting that employees are engaging with them. However, it takes a strategic approach to ensure that messages are being received and understood.
One proven strategy to boost engagement is focusing on company influencers, starting at the top. Executive leadership has a major influence and how internal messages are seen and interpreted within an organization. Also, when executive leaders engage with internal communications, it connects them to employees all the way down the company hierarchy.
Therefore, it’s critical for internal communications personnel to prioritize leadership’s engagement with messaging. It’s also important for leadership to understand their role in the grand scheme of internal communications.
It’s also important to engage department leaders with internal communications. Department managers have the most direct interaction with employees and play a big role in the dissemination and interpretation of messaging.
Finally, it’s important to engage the most active communicators. These employees tend to influence others and therefore, are vital cogs in your internal communications machinery.
Less is More When Email is Concerned
When employees feel like they’re getting too many emails, they start to tune them out. This can cause important messages to go unopened.
One novel internal email best practice to limit the number of emails sent to employees is to track the number of emails that get drafted but not sent. When this metric is tracked, it encourages internal communications personnel to avoid sending emails that don’t relate to strategic or employee priorities. Occasionally reviewing the number of emails that were not sent can highlight the importance of only communicating vital information.
Send the Right Message to the Right Audience
Strategic targeting is a term commonly associated with digital advertising, but it also should apply to addressing the challenges of business communication.
In a sense, internal communications could be seen as a type of employee marketing. Marketing messages are most effective when they are targeted to a specific audience. Whether it’s scheduling a zoom meeting or sending out an email, it’s important to consider the target audience.
Some messages will be relevant to the entire company. One way to determine if news should be shared company-wide is to first share it among the internal communications team. If an update or news item triggers a larger debate among the team, it should be vetted by senior leadership before being sent out to the entire company.
If an update or news item does not trigger a larger debate, it should be sent to the proper channel or tossed into the digital trash bin in accordance with internal communications best practices.
Most importantly, communications should be in the right format. When an update or decision does not call for a discussion, it should be sent out in a format that is simple and easy to understand. That might mean sending an email or it could mean posting a notice in the company break room.
Sometimes, an internal communications team will choose the wrong channel. It’s important to regularly assess the clarity of messages and adjust accordingly.
A company sets its employees up for disaster when employees don’t know where the organization is headed or why decisions are being made. While an internal communications team isn’t responsible for making strategic decisions, it is responsible for ensuring these decisions and the reasoning behind them are clearly communicated across the entire business.
Internal communications should always be relevant to the business and employees. Messages should lay out any objectives the company is trying to achieve and how employees are going to achieve those goals. For example, a message could explain that certain safety protocols are meant to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that employees remain healthy, productive and retained.
Let Employees Participate
Employee feedback is critical to the success of any company, but it shouldn’t be the only form of employee input. An effective way to engage employees in internal communications is to have them participate. For example, employees could be asked to share videos of new procedures or initiatives.
When employees have a say in how internal communications are crafted, they’ll take ownership over the process and be more likely to engage with messaging.
Regularly Review Practices
Most companies already have an internal communication system in place. It’s important for companies not to let this system languish and become ineffective.
Such systems should regularly be analyzed and reviewed to ensure communication best practices are followed. This requires detailed monitoring and analysis.
Analytics solutions for internal communications can provide a number of key performance indicators. For example, email click-through rates can show if employees are engaging with vital announcements and tracking the types of reactions on a social post can reveal how employees feel about the topic being mentioned.
How Tryane Can Help
Our analytics tools are designed to help companies get the most out of their internal communications on platforms like Microsoft Teams and Yammer. Please contact us today to find out how we can get the most out of your internal communications strategy.