When it comes to marketing, most businesses focus on external audiences. These are the prospects that you want to persuade to do business with you, as well as your current clients that you want to continue to do business with.
But what about internal communications?
Internal communications is all about promoting effective communications among the employees within an organization. It involves creating and delivering messages on behalf of management, as well as creating a dialogue with the people who make up the organization. This can be anything from introducing a new policy to informing employees of an upcoming event.
Internal communications can directly affect external communications. Your employees are the frontline of your business. If they don’t know what’s going on, or can’t share the company’s positioning, how can you expect prospective clients to get on board?
According to the Trends in Global Employee Engagement report by Aon Hewitt, every 1% increase in a business’s employee engagement translates into an almost 1% increase in sales. So, by investing in internal communications, you can help your business grow.
Here are four more reasons why a strong internal communication strategy is critical:
1. Keeps your employees informed
Keeping your employees informed of policy changes, messaging, engagement initiatives and updates on the status of the company helps establish a sense of transparency and openness that your employees will respect.
Your employees want information on the company they’re working for, the status of projects they’re working on, and the overall goals of the company. Strong internal communication is about getting the word out company-wide. This should be done in a way that gets them involved and invested in the bigger picture.
According to a Bambu data report, 80% of employees want their employer to keep them updated about company news—77% said it would help them at their job and 66% said it helps them build better relationships with their colleagues. Additionally, 63% said that it would help them become an advocate for the business and tell others about their company.
Ways to keep your employees informed:
- Company newsletters
- Internal blogs and articles
- Weekly (or daily) meetings
- Company intranet/portal
- Messaging apps (e.g. Slack)
2. Helps build out your company’s culture
One of the most important roles of any internal communications strategy is to help define your company culture. When executed correctly, your strategy will bring your workplace culture to life. If done poorly, it will leave employees confused.
Company culture encompasses benefits, like paid leave and health insurance. It then expands to include the overall mission statement and goals of a company. This shapes not only how a business treats their customers, but also their employees.
Each announcement, campaign, news update and policy change should play a role in how your employees interpret the cultural landscape of your company. What does your company stand for? Who does it value? Why does the mission matter? Your company culture is the sum of all its parts, and a strong internal communications strategy will take this into account.
Culture should be one of the most critical aspects of your internal communications strategy. It should be built into the messaging, the tone and the news that’s shared. Your company’s culture should guide your internal communications and vice versa. A robust, thriving company culture is essential to any successful business.
In fact, a strong company culture affects the bottom line. According to Entrepreneur, companies with happy employees outperform their competitors by about 20% and have a positive correlation with shareholder returns.
Ways to build out your company’s culture:
- Set up a central knowledge base for employees
- Create a clear and engaging corporate story
- Have defined mission and vision statements
- Have a set of defined values
- Set clear goals for the company, management and employees
3. Gets your employees engaged
Creating productive two-way conversations should be another aspect of your internal communications strategy. It’s the difference between boring top-down messaging and thoughtful, interactive discussions that promote engagement.
Consider that the top reasons employees quit their jobs are often related to communication. Poor communication could be a lack of clear direction from management, overall poor company communication or constant change that is not well communicated.
Engagement can take many forms: asking thoughtful questions at meetings, commenting on new updates, or even sharing what your team is working on with the entire company. A strong internal communications strategy creates space for these types of acts. It’s not just about communicating ideas as much as it is encouraging communications among your employees.
When your employees are engaged, they are motivated, they feel recognized and valued by their superiors, their productivity goes up, and most importantly — they believe in the business and its products.
A study published in the Journal of Public Relations Research explains that organizations that want to nurture engagement should “remove obstacles to internal information flow and provide ongoing feedback to employees about individual and organizational issues.”
Ways to get your employees engaged:
- Employee surveys
- Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions
- Open-door policy
- Employees recognition
- Organize games and happy hours
- Emphasization on collaboration
- Employee advocacy program
4. Help keep employees calm in times of crisis
Nothing stays the same. Sometimes businesses are forced to restructure, and mergers and acquisitions happen. This is when your employees need a strong internal communications strategy. These types of announcements need to be treated with care because the overall morale of the business could be at stake.
Being transparent about what is happening, who is affected and what it means for the company as a whole needs to be handled delicately. Complete transparency is essential in these situations. Employees will have questions and the way that your company answers those questions will shape how they view you going forward.
Your internal communications strategy should include how to handle these difficult situations. By being transparent and caring when delivering bad news, your company can create an atmosphere of openness and caring that can help sustain you through the hard times.
Your employees will respect you more if you tell them like it is. This is one of the most critical aspects of internal communications and illustrates why underutilizing it can quickly turn your employees against the company.
Ways to keep employees calm in times of crisis:
- Anticipate and plan for crises that your business could encounter before they happen.
- Create a crisis communication task force.
- Implement a notification system that quickly reaches out to employees with accurate information and guidance.
- Don’t Wait — Start discussions with your employees right away
- Host meetings with staff to talk them through the situation as well as the response.
- Be open and available for questions and concerns.
Your internal communications strategy plays a critical role in helping your employees understand the values and priorities of the business. It gives them the tools and knowledge to do their jobs and stay connected within the company.
This type of engagement directly affects external communications. When your employees are involved and can share the company’s messaging and positioning, it’s easier for your clients to get on board.