When it comes to company culture and employee engagement, solid internal communication is key. While organizational leaders create strategies to disseminate their core messages and reach their business goals, many are left asking: What exactly is internal communication?
According to a study conducted by IBM, 72% of employees don’t understand their organization’s strategy due to poor communication. Even more, 44% of employees feel that managers don’t provide clear information about the company’s vision and 72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of the company’s strategy. Internal communication in an organization delivers clarity, promotes collaboration and strengthens the overall common mission.
As an internal communications agency, Communications Strategy Group (CSG®) operates with the belief that internal alignment begets external success. Though it might seem overly simple, alignment truly does begin with internal communication. Creating alignment might be as simple as taking steps to understand and articulate the value the company offers specifically to employees. Effective internal communications tools make employees feel valued and help them see the value their company has to offer them. Morale is not just feeling like you have a seat at the table — though that is essential — it’s also feeling like you have a seat at the best table that continues to share value, effectively communicate and constantly evolve.
What is Internal Communication?
Internal communication keeps everyone within an organization properly informed on an ongoing basis. An internal communications plan provides an effective flow of information between an organization’s departments and colleagues — both up and down the management/employee chain as well as employee-employee interactions.
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, employee productivity increases by 20-25% in organizations where employees are connected. A strong communication strategy successfully nurtures company culture, boosts engagement and leans on employee feedback.
Internal Communication in 2022
While an internal communication strategy has always been essential to the ongoing success of organizations, the definition is more important in 2022 than ever before. According to a study by IBM and Globoforce, 44% of employees feel that managers don’t provide transparent communication about the company’s vision and 72% of employees don’t have a full understanding of the company’s strategy. From how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected employees and placed an emphasis on work-life balance to the great rise of remote work and transformation of company culture as a whole, a strong plan is key to weathering the spectrum of unique challenges organizations are currently facing.
Different Types and Sources of Internal Communication
As workforce demographics are constantly changing, so does the need for different internal communication channels. Consider a recent communications survey that found that 71% of employees don’t read email and other internal communications, 36% of employees were unhappy with the format in which most communications are delivered, and some employees didn’t even know where to find their company’s information.
From in-office collaboration to fully remote communication or a hybrid of both, organizations that leverage tools are best set up for success. There are five overarching sources of internal communication:
Company leaders who dispense key organizational information, such as strategies, results, internal and external information, and other important general news.
Effective communication between colleagues who work together to achieve the same end goal.
These interactions include all in-person briefings on tasks and situations.
Peer sources include informal discussions between colleagues to share information, which can occur within work walls and channels or outside.
Internal communication channels, such as a company intranet, email, social media, messaging, video calls, telephone and other internal communication tools fall into this resource category.
What Makes Internal Communication So Crucial For Companies?
Why is internal communication in an organization so important? Companies’ success rates are directly correlated to their employees’ understanding of how their role impacts the overall organizational mission and strategy. While effective communication is vital to this aim, it’s often lacking. In fact, just 40% of internal comms professionals believe that employees understand ‘well’ or ‘very well’ the contribution they’re making to their organization’s strategy. Here are 10 benefits of strong internal communication in an organization:
1. Increases employee engagement and productivity
Creating and maintaining a strong internal communications plan encourages collaboration, boosts engagement and spikes productivity. When employees are encouraged to submit their ideas and share feedback, they feel valued and heard. When employees are actively engaged, they are motivated to work harder and do better quality work on the job.
2. Facilitates information sharing
Effective internal communication ensures employees don’t suffer from information overload or burnout. It also increases work-life balance by avoiding the need to spend hours sifting through emails, messages and comments.
3. Promotes the brand
Organizations cannot move forward without passionate and engaged employees that get the job done each and every day. Positive external communication is the key to strengthening an organization’s reputation. When employees talk about the company and share information they become valuable advocates that bolster an organization’s mission.
4. Aligns internal team members
Before making major external announcements, aligning internal members is critical. Strong and effective communication ensures all teams sing off the same song sheet, understand message discipline and are completely informed from an inside-out perspective.
5. Enhances employee satisfaction
Organizations can leverage internal communication to improve the employee experience, promoting employee retention and reducing costly turnover.
6. Facilitates goal-sharing
A clear roadmap of your organization also emphasizes the overall strategy so everyone has a defined view of where the company is heading. This employee-wide clarity is instrumental in making decisions, carrying out roles and achieving results.
7. Highlights key points
Strong internal communication guides employee teams on how to prioritize and distribute efforts. This focus emphasizes how every project — no matter how small — fits into the overall picture and why deadline targets are important.
8. Inspires action
Internal communication that instantaneously communicates clear and effective information promotes both internal and external action.
9. Promotes teamwork during challenging times
In times of crisis, internal communication is a valuable tool. Internal communications teams quickly disseminate accurate information and eliminate the strength of rumors — both internally and externally.
10. Makes room for change
Technology is fast-moving and an effective internal communication plan allows businesses to best respond fast to climatic, environmental and unexpected situations.
11. Overcomes borders
From remote organizations to global businesses, internal communications are essential in aligning employees who work in various time zones, speak different languages and experience cultural diversity.
How to Build an Internal Communication Plan in 2022
An effective internal communications plan serves as a singular roadmap that motivates employees across the organization to take action by sharing information. Tactics for transparent communication should be unique to your organization to support the specific initiatives and actions needed to achieve your business goals. The channels and tools leveraged should directly resonate with the target audience and should be tailored to the overall goal. Here are seven steps to building an effective internal communication strategy:
Step 1. Assess your current situation
Start by evaluating your organization’s current communication status to identify what is working and which areas need improvement.
Step 2. Identify communication goals and objectives
To track progress, be sure to create specific communication goals that can be measured.
Step 3. Define your audience
Who are your core audiences? Define audience groups by department, location, skills, generation, etc. Specifics are key to effective communication.
Step 4. Solidify your core messages
Develop your organization’s core messages alongside your internal comms teams to create a clear and concise guidepost.
Step 5. Develop tactics and communication channels
Next, evaluate which communication channels and platforms are needed to achieve your unique goals — from email and internal newsletters to messaging programs and work management platforms.
Step 6. Create an internal comms calendar
Keep track of how core messages will be disseminated within the organization with an up-to-date communications calendar.
Step 7. Determine key performance indicators
Lastly, establish a system for tracking results to measure the effectiveness of your internal communications plan.
Common Challenges Companies Face
When communication breaks down, damage reverberates throughout the organization. Eventually, it can be difficult to identify where the source of challenges occurred. Here are five common challenges that companies face:
Lack of transparent internal communication
Effective communication is timely communication. When leadership withholds key information about important decisions or leaves employees guessing about updates, issues occur.
No avenue for feedback
Employee feedback is vital for organizational growth, but when employees don’t feel supported to share, valuable communication comes to a halt.
Neglecting remote workers’ needs
Organizations today must meet the rising needs of remote workers. Lack of consistency can cause remote employees to feel isolated, out-of-the-loop, undervalued and lonely.
Mixed messages can be confusing at best and detrimental to the organization at worst. Consistent messaging leverages communication tools that allow engagement monitoring in real-time, access to two-way communication and mobile-friendly mediums.
Not measuring results
Internal communications plans must constantly evolve to keep up with the changing needs of the company and employee demographics. Measuring results is key to understanding how effective your tactics are and invaluable for informing future strategies.
No matter the size of your organization, an internal communications agency can provide a broad perspective and breadth of expertise to help you overcome these common challenges.
Create Your Internal Communication Strategy With Us
What is internal communication? It’s the incredible potential your organization has to boost retention, engagement, transparency, growth and profitability through the way it communicates. Contact us today if you’re searching for an efficient path to utilize employee feedback to identify opportunities for engagement and support higher-order business goals. As an internal communications firm, CSG offers comprehensive communications plans for everything from mergers and acquisitions to crisis communications and ongoing corporate communications.