Internal Communication Strategy in Six Steps [with Examples]

A well-crafted internal communication strategy is one of the key components of a thriving organization. Here, we explore the main elements of an effective internal communications strategy. We'll explore best practices and real-world examples, giving you the knowledge to create valuable and coherent communication within your company.

published: September 9, 2023
updated: September 9, 2023

What is internal communications? Definition and explanation

Internal communication is how an organization shares important and relevant information with its employees, creating cohesion and unity among its staff.

It is a vital channel that guarantees all employees understand the objectives of the company and their roles within it. Learn more about the definition of Internal Communications in our comprehensive article. An internal communication strategy is pivotal in pushing a culture where employees feel valued and integral to the success of the enterprise.

Internal communication strives to achieve several core objectives. The most important ones include the cohesive dissemination of information pertaining to business goals and a well-structured strategy that transcends hierarchies. By effectively communicating these objectives, an organization ensures that each employee understands the broader mission and their specific part to its realization.

When individuals see how their roles fit into the broader organizational puzzle, they are more likely to feel valued and motivated. A well-crafted communication strategy filters and delivers the right information at the right time, preventing the sharing of unnecessary information and ensuring employees remain engaged.

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What is an internal communication strategy?

An Internal communication is there to facilitate information flow within an organization. It should cover the methods, processes, and tone used to communicate to employees.

It should act as a blueprint for company communications and for achieving the goals and objectives set for the firm.

An effective internal communication plan goes beyond mere information dissemination; it actively engages employees at all levels of the organization. It encourages greater involvement, boosts morale, and promotes an environment where success is achieved collectively. This also translates into increased staff productivity.

Why is an internal communication plan important?

In the modern workplace, effective internal communication has never been more important. The advent of long-term remote work and the transformation of corporate environments have created a brand new corporate landscape. While there are various benefits to remote work, such as greater flexibility, better work–life balance, and more autonomy, the ongoing shift in work dynamics has also led to some employees feeling disconnected from their work, contributing to what's been termed the "Great Resignation." This phenomenon underscores the renewed emphasis on employee engagement and, consequently, it highlights the important role internal communications has to play.

In this landscape, an internal communication strategy can no longer rely on a set-it-and-forget-it approach. It must be proactive and creative to rekindle the connections that may have eroded when in-person interactions became less frequent. For further insights on the benefits of internal communication.

Learn more about the benefits of internal communications
1

Connecting communication to business objectives

A key component of a successful internal communication strategy is connecting every communication to particular business goals. This alignment ensures that the narratives being spread externally, whether in the media or on social media, are consistent with the messages being spread internally. This is crucial in times of upheaval.

2

Providing line of sight

Employees must understand the overall mission of the organization and how their individual contributions fit into it. This is made easier by providing employees with a clear line of sight, ensuring they know how their contributions relate to the company's larger objectives.

3

Driving action and change

An effective internal communication strategy goes beyond simply spreading information; it also promotes action that results in significant organizational change. When employees understand the reasoning behind particular actions, they can see how it fits into the wider picture and are thus more likely to embrace this change and its implementation. Effective communication here is invaluable. This is because it provides the necessary resources and support to enable people to actively participate in change efforts and be a part of its implementation.

The eight internal communications best practices

1. Tailor your message

Effective internal communication involves crafting relevant messages to each employee's role and responsibilities.

Delivering personalized information makes employees feel valued, reducing the frustration of sifting their way through irrelevant content. This practice ensures that every organization member understands their significance and contribution to the company's success.

2. Measure success with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are vital to business performance, and internal comms are no exception.

You need to know the impact your words are having. Ways to measure include forum interaction, email open rates, newsletter engagement, and key above else, employee engagement. Assess your methods' impact and overall success on your company goals.

3. Celebrate achievements

Reward individual and team achievements. Shares sales records, weekly highlights, and individual promotions. Doing so shows you value those who work for you and motivates them. By rewarding effort and accomplishments, you show people they aren’t just a number and that what they do directly impacts the company’s success.

4. Craft compelling content and tools

Effective internal communication hinges on tailoring your messages and tools to meet your employees' needs. Messages should resonate with employees, addressing their specific concerns.

Ensure that your communication materials are informative and visually engaging where possible.

Your communication tools must deliver information in a timely and accessible manner.

Weekly or monthly newsletters keep employees informed, from new hires to social events. With many choosing to skim through newsletters, remember to make headlines clear and direct to show their relevance to them.

5. Culture of sharing

Encourage employees to share their insights and knowledge when appropriate. Create an environment where employees feel empowered to contribute their expertise to benefit their teams and the organization as a whole. Embrace various communication mediums, such as text, video, or social platforms, to accommodate diverse communication styles and enhance engagement.

6. Improve transparency

Transparency cultivates trust and loyalty among employees. While certain information may need to remain confidential, it's crucial to communicate the reasons for such confidentiality. Open and honest communication prevents the spread of rumors and promotes a more positive organizational culture.

7. Prepare for crises

In the face of an ever-evolving business landscape, crisis readiness is significant. Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the importance of crisis communication and change management.

Organizations must have a well-defined strategy in place to navigate unforeseen challenges effectively.

Employees should be equipped to adapt to rapidly shifting circumstances.

8. Measure strategy success

Without evaluating the impact of your communications, you are operating in the dark.

Assessing the effectiveness of your internal communication strategy is important for continual improvement. Determining whether your messages are being received, comprehended, and acted upon is crucial. There are internal communication apps with reporting features to simplify the process, providing data-driven insights that allow you to make informed adjustments to achieve desired outcomes.

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The eight internal communication mistakes

1. Neglecting technology

Although technology has become an ever more common tool in the workplace, many business leaders fail to realize its full potential. As a consequence, info can quickly become lost amid the relentless tide of email correspondence or meetings.

Harnessing technology can alter internal communication and make it more engaging and memorable.

Think videos and interactivity.

2. Lack of comprehensive communication strategy

Some assume that distributing information as it becomes available is enough. However, this neglects the need for a well-thought-out strategy.

Without a strategy, internal communications become erratic and unpredictable, leading to disengagement.

Regular, methodically planned messaging is vital for maintaining employee engagement and ensuring everyone is on the same page.

3. Insufficient handling of change communication

Assuming that a change will be universally accepted is another common misstep.

Leaders tend to overlook the barriers that need to be broken down before all levels of the organization can embrace a message about change. Mismanaging change communication can breed fear and distrust. Effective change communication requires tailored messages for stakeholders and a sensitive approach to ensure a smoother transition.

4. Sending unclear messages

Communicating confusing and overcomplicated messages is surprisingly common.

Messages may assume a level of knowledge that isn't currently present.

Incoherent messages open the door to distortion and rumors, which can spread faster than the message itself. Clarity is essential, particularly during change or crisis, to ensure everyone interprets the message correctly.

5. Neglecting the human side

Focusing solely on unexciting content, such as sales figures and CEO reports, is a mistake. Effective internal communication should also embrace the lighter side of corporate life. Employees appreciate a mix of company news, ideas, feedback, and fun. Neglecting this human aspect can lead to disengagement, while injecting fun and personality into communications can boost morale and retention.

6. Ignoring two-way communication

Another critical mistake is treating communication as a one-way street, where leadership solely disseminates information without actively seeking employee feedback or input.

Neglecting two-way communication stifles employee engagement and innovation.

It can lead to a disempowered workforce that feels unheard and undervalued. Encouraging dialogue and actively listening to employee concerns and ideas fosters a more inclusive and collaborative workplace culture, ultimately benefiting the organization.

7. Failing to measure impact

Another common mistake is failing to measure the impact of internal communications. Some organizations overlook the importance of tracking engagement levels and interaction among teams and divisions. Monitoring allows you to fine-tune your communications, correct the course of action, and improve participation. It's an essential aspect of effective communication.

8. Overlooking data analysis

Data analysis also often gets neglected in internal communications. Many organizations struggle to harness the power of data to make informed decisions about their communication strategies. Without data-driven insights, internal communications risk drifting off messages or losing their purpose. To maximize the effectiveness of your communications, it's crucial to embrace data analysis and use it to refine your approach. There are an array of tools for this.

Six steps to build a bulletproof internal communications strategy

Creating an internal communications strategy is key for reinforcing the connection between employees, employers, and the company's mission. It bolsters commitment through informed staff and heightened engagement, and propels business success by optimizing every activity. To construct an effective internal communications strategy, follow these six steps:

Six steps to build a bulletproof internal communications strategy
1

Be aware of your current status

Initiate the process by being aware of the present circumstances (circumstances which may show the need for better communication). Factors to consider include lack of cohesion among teams, low employee engagement and low employee experience ratings. This phase involves researching and evaluating the status quo to assess the problem.

2

Specify your results

State the target outcomes you desire. Concentrate on the purpose of your communication and set SMART goals. Make sure these link with the organization's objectives. Realize these before you begin.

3

Craft your message

Outline the key messages you must deliver to your target audiences. Focus on relevant facts, data (adds weight), anecdotes (makes it relatable and human), and narratives. Employ the "5 Ws and an H" (What, Why, Where, When, How, Who) to systematically and thoroughly structure your messages. Simplicity, surprise elements, lucidity, credibility, emotional resonance, and storytelling techniques can give your messages the edge and make them memorable so that they stick.

4

Establish your channels and methods

Define your internal communication approach, detailing your methods of reaching your target audiences. Clearly outline the specific channels and methods you'll utilize to ensure the successful delivery of your messages. Engage your communication team in brainstorming sessions to generate innovative ideas for impactful methods and channels. Consider elements such as in-person interactions, meetings, printed materials, electronic communication, videos, and internal social media. Ensure these choices align seamlessly with your objectives and cater to your audience's preferences.

5

Assess your progress

Assessment methods could encompass surveys or input from communication activities, and show themselves in increased product sales, or improved retention rates. Consistently monitoring progress fosters responsibility and aids in refining your strategy as and when required.

6

Create a communications calendar

Develop details of the communication procedures you’ll employ should a crisis emerge. This schedule should encompass a range of communication avenues and strategies to sustain a regular flow of communications. Reflect on how each communication syncs with your objectives and aligns with the preferences and the needs of your intended audience.

Internal communication examples

An effective internal communications strategy or plan is only worthwhile if you actively use it to keep employees informed and engaged in their roles. Below, we outline some of the ways that you can do this and some internal communication strategy examples.

Companywide Gatherings

Regular meetings are interactive sessions where employees can directly engage with senior management. These meetings provide a platform for employees to ask questions, share feedback, and gain insights into the company's direction. Meetings can be held in person or virtually to accommodate remote teams. They can serve as performance motivators for your people and provide lighthearted and needed talk between members.

Digital Collaboration Platforms

Internal social media platforms like Zimbra, Slack, or Microsoft Teams have gained popularity for facilitating employee communication and collaboration. These platforms enable real-time discussions, sharing updates and files, and engaging employees in dedicated group conversations for particular tasks or projects, making them valuable tools for keeping teams connected.

Crisis Response Communication

As already mentioned, in times of crisis, effective communication is significant to keep employees informed and maintain stability. Companies should have a well-defined crisis communication plan that includes clear lines of communication, designated spokespersons, and a strategy for disseminating information rapidly and accurately.

Employee Appreciation

Acknowledging the accomplishments of employees is a potent way to elevate morale and motivation. Employee appreciation initiatives come in diverse shapes, such as recognizing achievements during company gatherings, organizing award ceremonies, or offering incentives like bonuses or additional time off. These initiatives cultivate an atmosphere of gratitude and have the potential to notably enhance employee engagement.

Intranet Hub

An intranet is basically a company’s internal internet that only its members see. It operates as a centralized hub of information, where documents and resources are easily shared. Companies can utilize their intranet for sending updates and distributing vital documents. Questions can also be asked by employees in forums. The intranet can be useful for sharing fun and social updates, such as charity events.

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Conclusion

The examples above should give you something to think about. We've now covered the what, why, and how-to of internal communications. Aside from uniting everyone in your organization and giving employees fresh updates, a strong internal comms plan strengthens your position in the competitive landscape.

A company's success is directly related to its reputation, and internal communication allows employees to interact better with stakeholders, thus strengthening its reputation.

As communication in the workplace evolves and geography is no longer a deciding factor in workplace cohesion, it's more important than ever to have a strategy to ensure consistency in messaging. An effective internal comms strategy can solidify the vision and aims you want to exude to the world. It's time, therefore, to take it seriously. If you're ready to take your internal comms to the next level, contact our Internal Communications Firm to see how we can help.

September 9, 2023
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