At its simplest, internal communications is the way an organisation talks to its people and the way the people communicate to the organisation and each other. Great internal comms can have a huge impact on productivity, performance, teamwork, employee experience and, ultimately, employee engagement.
If you want the right things to happen in your business, you have to understand how communication takes place: is it top-down, bottom-up, peer-to-peer, campaign or cascade-based? How effective is it? And what’s happening in the informal networks – often the places where the real, authentic communication is taking place.
Is the right information flowing effectively? Do your people have what they need to do their jobs well? Is the culture open and transparent? Do people know the leaders, understand the vision and see the direction of travel? Do they know their role in making this happen? That’s all the role of internal communications – it’s big ticket stuff.
When there’s an effective internal communications approach, good things happen. Gallup have stated a 10% improvement in employees’ connection with the mission or purpose of their organisation leads to:
Organisations with effective communications are 3.5x more likely to outperform their peers
Brilliant strategies come in all shapes and sizes, but in our experience, best practice internal communications follow a model similar to this:
Your internal communications plan helps you tell a coherent and consistent ‘big-picture’ story about the organisation’s future and your employees’ role in realising it. This unlocks potential, bringing people together behind the common purpose with shared goals and values. It creates time and space for you to give your people a voice and recognise their contributions. It also helps you demonstrate the impact their work has on business priorities. Phew!
If you (or your board!) need any more convincing, a best practice approach to internal communication will:
We’ve been there. Sometimes internal comms professionals get pushed and pulled in every direction. Sometimes fire-fighting is all you can manage. And sometimes you’ll feel like you have to say ‘yes’ to everything.
As consumers, we’re so used to the noise that we’ve all become experts at screening. It’s difficult to cut through, and hard to land business-critical messages effectively. Relevance and authenticity are crucial – and difficult to achieve in global businesses.
The employee landscape is shifting too. Disengagement levels have never been higher – recent stats suggest 50% of the workforce is looking for a new job. The growing volume of remote and flexible workers brings a new set of engagement challenges – as does the rise of mental wellbeing, the search for more meaning, diversity, inclusion, innovation. Oh, and there’s change. All the change. Change, change, change.
Today’s line managers have never been so squeezed. Whether it’s change, targets, people issues or BAU, they don’t have time to think. Yet their ability to communicate and effectively engage their teams is fundamental both to the employee experience and effective organisational communication.
So, how are internal communications professionals meeting these challenges? Roundel 2020, our latest employee experience survey, found:
Thinking about the complex environments we operate within can make even the clearest head spin, so we’ve devised a tried-and-tested approach to internal comms planning.
To make sense of it all, we always begin with in-depth research. We try to understand the organisation’s reality from many different perspectives, so we can shape a practical approach that will work for all audience segments.
Our research is always bespoke, but typically includes:
If you’d love to take a strategic approach to internal comms, but aren’t sure where to start – or just can’t find the time to think about it – then you’re not alone…
62% of companies don’t have a long-term internal communication strategy
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