Internal communications are the lifeblood of your company’s culture, making sure everyone is on the same page and singing the same song. But before discussing how these communications can be improved, it might be helpful to quickly recap what their goal should be. After all, you can’t sharpen your aim without first having a clear view of your target.
In a nutshell, internal communications are about bringing your company’s employees together and uniting their efforts towards your company’s objectives. Employees should feel informed, empowered, listened to, and clear on their role and what’s expected of them. Internal communications should engage workers across the organization through content that’s useful, relevant, purpose-driven, and easy – if not enjoyable – to read.
With these objectives in mind, here are some tips on how you can make your internal communications more effective.
1. Start with the why
The link between your communications and the bigger picture should be clear: how the information you’re sharing fits in with your company’s mission, vision, values, and goals. In other words, your communications should identify how the new policy that’s being introduced, for example, will help employees deliver on your brand promise. This will imbue what you communicate with a sense of purpose and answer the “so what?” question for employees – why does this matter to their day-to-day jobs? Note that the purpose could also be values-driven: to create a “we” culture by encouraging employees to share their stories and achievements.
2. Make it a two-way street
Many firms have a tendency to think of internal communications as top-down: management sending out important information to employees. But today this view is outdated. To foster a corporate culture and inspire employees, managers need to listen to staff and encourage both feedback and pushback. Your internal communications app can serve as an engaging forum for discussion and ideation. Features can be incorporated allowing employees to comment, share, and publish their own content, helping them to “feel at home”in this digital space.
One caveat here: it’s not enough to just ask for feedback – you have to act on it, too. Employees need to know their voice is being heard and ideas taken into account (even if in the end they’re not implemented). Otherwise, the promise of “we listen to our employees” will ring hollow.
3. Get the content mix right
To keep your internal communications interesting and relevant, it’s important to provide a mix of content. That means combining corporate and industry news with updates on employee achievements, stories about life at your company, and user-generated content. Not only will busy employees be more likely to read the content in a timely manner, they’ll also feel part of a broader ecosystem where a lot of interesting things are happening.
Getting the content mix right also entails varying the format. Articles and videos have now become par for the course, but you might also want to consider podcasts, interactive surveys, and infographics, for example.
4. Think organizational vs. operational, not just global vs. local
If you work for an international company, you’re probably already used to thinking about internal communications in terms of global vs. local. But there’s another way to frame your messages that can help you target them more effectively: organizational vs. operational. Organizational communications relate to new HR policies, company-wide projects, financials, crisis communications, etc.; operational content relates to individual departments, units, and projects – the information that workers need to do their day-to-day jobs.
These often fall along global vs. local lines, but not always. Operational content can span different local offices if they’re working together on the same procurement contract, for instance. And organizational content can relate to just one subsidiary or jurisdiction. Thinking organizational vs. operational will help you better identify who should be included in certain communications, what format is most appropriate, and which languages the content should be published in.
5. Adapt communications to modern lifestyles
Today’s workers are on the go. Mobile devices have become an integral part of the modern workplace, and it’s not unusual for workers to check company messages during a commute, at a customer site, or out in the field. Your internal communications platform must therefore be mobile-enabled –that means selecting technology with low latency times and high connectivity, as well as an easy-to-read interface that’s compelling and intuitive.
Adapting to modern lifestyles also requires being flexible in how content is published. People today interact increasingly through social media and enjoy this form of engagement. Your internal communications app should follow suit, creating a “company social network.” Give employees the opportunity to post, share, and comment – they’ll know they’re part of the team!