Workplace team collaborating
An internal communications strategy can strengthen interpersonal relationships in the workplace, so when a crisis occurs the team will weather the storm together. — Getty Images/Sushiman

Many businesses have best practices and procedures documented for communicating properly with clients, customers and partners, but neglect to apply the same level of care to internal communications. An effective internal communications strategy can dramatically improve your organization’s culture, employee engagement and daily operations.

However, designing a solid internal communications strategy can be daunting, especially for businesses that are rapidly growing and hiring new employees. Here’s everything you need to know about internal communications and how to implement an effective strategy.

[Read: 6 Things Every Boss Should Do to Build an Amazing Company Culture]

Why your business needs an internal communications strategy

For some companies, business communications only take place when negative information needs to be shared, such as when company goals are not met or when layoffs occur. This level of internal communication results in poor productivity, frustration and toxic rumors. In this type of environment, employees will spend more time on unproductive – or even damaging – behaviors, such as gossiping and worrying. If this culture is allowed to fester, you will soon experience a high turnover rate and you may lose star employees.

Implementing an effective internal communications strategy results in a dedicated and more efficient workforce, which has a huge impact on your bottom line. According to McKinsey & Company, businesses that utilize social technology to effectively communicate with their employees improve productivity by 20% to 25%.

Furthermore, employees who feel connected and engaged with their business are more likely to act as brand ambassadors. When your employees are your best brand ambassadors, they can attract top-quality candidates and high-value leads to your company. Most importantly, an internal communications strategy can strengthen interpersonal relationships in the workplace so that when a crisis occurs the team will weather the storm together and navigate it.

An internal communications plan provides a clear roadmap to provide consistent and efficient communication with employees.

What is in an internal communications plan?

Fundamentally, an internal communications plan provides a clear roadmap to provide consistent and efficient communication with employees. The goal is to help employees feel informed about the business, specific company goals and what they can do to succeed within the organization.

Internal communication strategies vary based on the specific needs of a business, but they all should have these seven fundamental components:

  • Analysis: This component should provide a complete overview of the current internal communications process. If your business doesn’t have a formal internal communications plan in place, the analysis should include how teams actually communicate within the organization.
  • Goals: What do you want your plan to accomplish? When setting your communications goals, consider the overall mission of the business and how implementing an internal communications strategy will help you achieve them. When possible, set SMART goals to achieve desirable results.
  • Audience: Consider your entire business as well as individual teams when identifying your audience. How does the accounting department prefer to receive information versus the marketing department?
  • Message: This component should outline what specific information you want or need to include in your messaging. Why do these topics need to be communicated?
  • Channel: What is the best platform for employees to receive internal communications? Many companies default to email communications, but you can also consider using messaging apps, like Slack, or employee advocacy tools, like Sociabble or EveryoneSocial.
  • Schedule: The key with an internal communication strategy is to maintain a consistent schedule. Consider the timing of sensitive or important information to make sure everyone receives the same message at the same time.
  • Metrics: Finally, determine your key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can measure how effective your communication strategy is and where it needs improvement.

[Read: WFH? How to Hire the Best Remote Employees]

Implementing a strong internal communications strategy is challenging for every business. It takes time and energy to adopt and, like all good strategies, it should evolve over time. Your internal communications strategy should look different when the company is operating as business as usual, but it should rapidly adapt to meet your needs during a crisis.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published May 05, 2020