Getting your house in order is very important, and where better to begin than with your internal communications? Join us as we delve into employee communications and what makes a happy workforce. We’ll provide examples of different types of good internal communication and share real-life examples to inspire you into action.
Internal comms is the heartbeat of any organization. Effective communication keeps everything flowing and everyone on board with the major goings on in a firm. It’s a well-understood concept that a happy and in-the-loop workforce is an engaged one.
Studies have shown that firms with high employee engagement benefit from numerous advantages compared to those without, such as fewer sick days, higher staff retention, and greater overall happiness and well-being among members.
A strong and well-connected workforce has proved crucial in a post-pandemic world, where restrictions made us rethink our approach to how we work. People realized they no longer had to be physically present in an office to do their jobs and do them well. Instead, we learned that with a strong internal communications strategy, we could be more adaptable to change, unified, and even more successful. This was a game-changer.
While this all sounds fantastic, there are some steps you need to take and things you need to think about. You may need help changing your internal stakeholders' mindset if this is a new concept. Luckily, we’ve assembled some excellent real-world examples of internal communication and explained why they’re so good and when you can use them. You can learn more about the definition of internal communications here. Now, let's begin with the best internal communication examples in business.
The purpose of internal communication is to inform and motivate people.
People are a company’s most valuable asset, so your communication should seek to engage them and support their well-being in the workplace.
The role it plays in staff morale and engagement should not be underestimated. Good internal communication makes people care about their roles and the impact they make. Below is our list of the best internal communications examples.
As the name implies, this communication is from top management to the ‘floor.’ It includes updates on direction, major changes, and the company’s progress in reaching its goals. The challenge is not in sharing this per se - but in getting everyone on board to achieve it. This is the heart of strong and effective top-down internal communication.
Apple has come to personify the ‘top-down’ approach to internal comms. Steve Jobs famously shared his vision so that everyone, from execs to frontline employees, became aligned with this vision. Communication is done only via official channels after top management gives the orders, and its infamous product launches are meant for internal teams as much as the outside world. Apple has its own ‘university,’ from where its internal training program enshrines the company’s values so participants learn ‘the Apple way.’
Transparency, consistency, and clear communication from leadership are the best ways to effectively communicate and motivate all employees, and one of the major reasons for Apple's high performance is its highly motivated workforce. Employees feel more confident in their roles if they feel management is competent and has a vision.
No single organization remains the same forever. Organizations must change and adapt in strategy, purpose, or due to unforeseen events. Change must be communicated in a way that offers reassurance to those in your care. The introduction of change can cause a great deal of upheaval within an organization if mishandled.
In May 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb's CEO Brian Chesky had to deliver the devastating news that nearly 1900 employees would be let go. He sent a heartfelt open letter outlining the reasons for the layoffs. Widely acknowledging the pain this would bring and the support they’d give to those departing, he reassured those left that Airbnb would recover.
Effective internal change communication must be honest and informative, and these messages can be uncomfortable sometimes, such as in the case of redundancies or restructuring. How it was handled in this instance was particularly noteworthy in its candidness and transparency. This should be the aim of your change communications.
Would you know what to do in the event of a crisis? A recent study showed that nearly half of US companies don't have a crisis management plan. Quite a worry when you consider what's at stake. A reputation can take years to build, only to then disappear overnight. There are more threats today than ever (cybercrime, data breaches, social media). It's important to note that a crisis can strike a company at a time. Timing can be crucial in a crisis, so it's best to prepare a crisis communication plan that provides a clear and timely internal guide on what to do for your employees should the need arise.
In April 2018, when two black men used a Philadelphia Starbucks restroom while waiting for a friend, the store manager called the police, who came to the store and arrested them both for trespassing. The arrest led to allegations of racial discrimination and caused protesters to demonstrate in-store. Immediately acknowledging the event's gravity, CEO Kevin Johnson called the arrests "reprehensible" and visited Philadelphia to meet with the men, employees, and community leaders. Starbucks closed 8,000 stores for several hours on 29 May 2018 to conduct anti-racial bias training. It also changed the company restroom policy and held open forums for employees to share their experiences and concerns.
While we all hope to avoid crises, we know they are sometimes unavoidable. As COVID-19 showed, a plan is essential for when an emergency strikes. As shown in the example above, it's important to give your staff the tools and guidance to know what to do.
This relates to your internal communication about specific marketing campaigns. Employees hold the power to determine the success of any new products or campaigns you run. Your job is to give strong internal communication so that they are informed on the matter and can help with its rollout.
It can often be a challenge to engage a large workforce. The beer company Heineken meets this challenge by using global webinars and broadcasts that reach employees all over simultaneously. Webinars provide Q&A sessions and deep dives on campaigns, clarifying their strategy and execution.
This type of comms is results-specific, so everyone is on the same page. For Heineken, this type of communication helps generate readiness and enthusiasm for business campaigns that help it meet the challenges ahead, and it is a good internal communication campaign example.
Strong workplace cultures unite and motivate people. A company’s culture refers to its structure, communication style, and the collective values it seeks to reinforce. Internal cultural communication is the glue that brings this all together, creating a sense of belonging and a shared sense of purpose.
One company that excels at its strong cultural internal communications is Zappos. It has built a reputation as an online shoe retailer as a unique workplace. And this boils down to the culture.
It created ten core values (with the help of its employees), such as “Deliver WOW Through Service" and "Create Fun and A Little Weirdness,” that employees are encouraged to adhere to. They used to publish an annual "Culture Book," meant to serve as an internal guide to its culture.
Culture can have a huge impact on individual and company performance. How a company communicates with staff can help shape a healthy work community and shine through to external stakeholders. Zappos got the best from its employees by showing them that they are its most valuable resource.
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Communication between colleagues or teams is essential to everyday operations and business performance.
Shell uses Microsoft 365's Yammer service, an enterprise social networking service, to connect its teams. Shell uses these to share videos and knowledge and offer a more authentic and dialogue-based approach to its team communication. It's a step away from the mass email approach to team comms and is one of many great employee communication examples.
Companies are increasingly turning to digital communication to inform and bind teams. This can help align employees with their roles and help them understand their contributions. Shell has seen a 470% increase in engagement due to its team communication strategy. The use of videos can also aid engagement and learning.
Working with others to achieve a common goal is the norm for most, and communication occurs between teams with different skill sets whose daily tasks differ. The exchange of information and workflows between different teams or departments is known as inter-team communication. It is crucial that teams who rely on each other to perform their roles can easily communicate with one another to reach the desired goal.
Netflix is well known for its inter-team communication. For example, a lot of emphasis is placed on feedback. This is not limited to team members. All levels of management and entry-level employees share direct feedback. Job performance is measured, at least in part, by cross-functional partners.
Collaboration is key to successfully meeting the objectives of a company. This is where inter-team communication comes in. It’s easy for teams to become inward-looking and even suspicious of others. Through inter-team communication, we learn how our roles fit in with others, if we want to learn new skills and contribute to a different team, and most importantly, develop a way of working that benefits the organization.
When someone new joins the team, communication is two-fold: First, it’s important to introduce them to everyone and explain what they’ll be doing and whose team they’ll be joining. This is where a short bio comes in useful. Their name, background, and some fun facts can help existing colleagues put a name to a face and be a useful icebreaker for conversation starters. Second, new hires should be made to feel part of the team as soon as possible, and personalized internal communication can help a lot here.
It's famously hard to get into Google, but once you’re in, you’ll find their new hire communication top-notch. They even have a special name - noogler. As if that wasn’t enough, It is common practice for newbies to receive onboarding emails from managers and teammates before they start, making them feel part of the team before they even set foot in the building. Managers receive a checklist of items to make the new joiner feel welcome. These include helping the new hire build a social network, arranging a buddy system, and discussing roles and responsibilities.
All of the above can add to an engaging new hire experience and make them more likely to write a positive review about you on sites like Glassdoor. This provides a great opportunity to boost your internal branding. Google’s new hire comms prioritize the new joiner experience, ensuring they receive all the information and resources they need to perform their role and making them less likely to leave.
Work processes can change frequently, and there can be plenty to keep track of. This is where information comms come in. Having everything together in one handy place saves time and creates an accessible reference point. We suggest using an HRtech platform that lets you reach employees who can use these information centers for such things as FAQs, process flows, and training documents.
Like many international firms, AstraZeneca needs help reaching its people, who are spread worldwide. It uses webinars, choosing video over text to increase engagement. Webinars also can be recorded and sent to people in different time zones. Another tactic involved employee-created mobile phone footage put together in a 20-minute film titled ‘One Day’ to show how individual employees around the globe were helping the company to grow.
People have little time to ‘hunt’ for information, so webinars and videos are great ways to manage your internal information comms. Company intranets with a search function can narrow the time spent scanning through lots of irrelevant info when it could be spent on a core role or function. It can also work on mobile, making intranet access available anywhere and anytime.
We all want to be recognized for our hard work. Employee recognition communication mentions, highlights, or praises employees for an exceptionally well-done job or great effort. It could be signing a lucrative new client, hitting a sales target, or anything else noteworthy.
Cisco's Employee Recognition Initiative recognizes exceptional employees from peers and colleagues outside the organization for their achievements. Cisco managers can submit nominations for awards from outside groups, such as Black Engineer of the Year, Asian Engineer of the Year, Women of Color Research Sciences and Technology Awards, and the YWCA Tribute to Women and Industry.
Employee-directed internal comms can encourage employees to go that extra mile. You can create a sense of connection with your audience by highlighting notable examples and mentioning employees within your newsletter. It offers a genuine opportunity to reward your high-performing staff and motivate others.
Internal communication on people's mental health and wellness has increased recently. Businesses that focus on employees' physical and mental health experience greater engagement, and encouraging people to discuss and share their experiences is a great way to increase the health and wellness of your team, leading to fewer instances of burnout.
Patagonia emphasizes commitment to employee well-being in its internal communications, all employees get access to Unmind - a workplace mental health platform, and the business communicates its commitment to the well-being of staff by offering flexible hours to fit their needs, onsite yoga, and allowing staff to post daily surf reports and make companywide announcements when the surf is good enough to get out on.
Businesses that communicate their concern for employee well-being can attract and retain the best talent, while workers benefit from resources that will improve their lives. Mental health is increasingly becoming part of the workplace discussion, and we think this is good.
For a workplace to be genuinely representative, all its members must feel they have a voice. This is the purpose of diversity and inclusion (D&I) communication. It aims to communicate and encourage diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace and can involve communicating the results of D&I initiatives, future initiatives, and upcoming educational experiences.
A standout example is Accenture, which launched its internal initiative #InclusionStartsWithI. The aim was to demonstrate how bias can creep up on us in our everyday endeavors and how employees can work to prevent this.
This type of communication allows many companies to engage with their workforce. A diverse workforce brings fresh perspectives and ideas and enriches a company. It is also a big factor in attracting talent who can thrive in your organization.
It's more important than ever to keep abreast of industry news and stay ahead of the competition. Industry updates can inform your workforce about the latest developments impacting their role and your industry.
Cisco has an internal news portal called "Cisco Beat" that shares industry news, trends, and forums where people can join industry-related discussions.
The working environment is fast-paced. Staff must now have access to real-time updates to perform their role. Industry bulletins can help with this. There may be new regulations you need to be aware of, and you don’t want to be told after it's too late.
Technology has not completely removed the need for in-person meetings. Face-to-face meetings are still the best way to connect with colleagues. Your one-to-one and performance reviews are probably done this way. And for a reason, there will always be some things that need to be done in person.
This has become more important since the restrictions COVID-19 placed on us. COVID showed us we missed our daily interactions at the coffee machine and in-person collaborations. Previously, we took this for granted. In some ways, it is nice to know that there are some things in life that tech cannot substitute.
Face-to-face is how we connect meaningfully with colleagues and gauge their thoughts. This is useful for offering support and throwing a lifeline when someone needs help with their work. It also allows you to share important information and discuss sensitive personal issues.
From the above examples of good internal communications, you’ve probably seen that a holistic approach is needed for your internal communications.
Internal communication should be about what your audience needs to hear, not what you want to say.
It is also wise to think about segmentation. Your audience may need to be segmented and treated as individuals, so targeting is important.
Consistency of voice is also crucial to building trust, whatever the communication. Remember the empathy factor and keep your audience in the loop, even if you don't know the full picture yet. Collaboration is also key to strong IC, so consider how to use resources to maximize this.