So, what is internal communications?

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.

 

Why is internal communications important?

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:

  • 4% increase in profitability
  • 7% reduction in safety incidents
  • 1% decrease in turnover

 

Organisations with effective communications are 3.5x more likely to outperform their peers

Towers Watson, 2014

 

What makes an amazing internal communications strategy?

Brilliant strategies come in all shapes and sizes, but in our experience, best practice internal communications follow a model similar to this:

Infographic showing what makes an internal communications strategy

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:

  • increase engagement
  • drive business performance
  • build trust with leaders and reduce the rumour mill
  • provide useful feedback and measurement
  • align key stakeholders
  • support exceptional line manager communication
  • create accountability
  • reinforce culture and values
  • help Internal Comms get a seat at the top table.

 

Internal communication challenges

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:

  • 33% of respondents were focusing on helping employees understand strategy
  • 32% were prioritising upskilling leadership engagement capability
  • 32% wanted to embed a purpose-driven culture.

 

Take the pain out of internal comms planning

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:

  • desk top reviews of existing data
  • workshops and focus groups
  • telephone or 1-2-1 interviews
  • online focus groups
  • internal social media chats or sentiment analysis.

 

Why come Home?

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

Gallup, 2019

Want to know more?

We run strategic internal comms planning sessions for several clients. We also offer training to upskill comms teams in all things strategic, providing best practice tools, templates and planning frameworks. Our aim is to make sure every attendee leaves with the confidence to develop a best practice internal comms strategy and plan.

If you’d like to find out more, then we’d absolutely love to hear from you.

Kate Lines

Client Services Director

+44 [0] 117 9411 200

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Sarah Fruen-Neely

Client Services Director

+44 [0] 117 9411 200

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Carol Whitworth

Founder / Inspiration & Innovation Director

+001 917 601 2114

+44 [0] 7710 163 499

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