Whether they consider it or not, every organization has an internal communication strategy. It is impossible to avoid because business leaders will need to communicate information to and receive information from company employees. The way that this information is communicated can either make or break company culture, employee engagement, and overall morale.
It is also the only way to ensure that information is being communicated effectively is to create an internal communications plan that everyone on your team can follow. Without effective internal communication, team members will struggle to understand and act on the shared information, which can lead to setbacks or conflict.
This article will discuss what an internal communication plan is and the reasons for developing internal communication strategies for employee communication. Next, it will outline the considerations you should make regarding your current plan and whether or not you need a new internal communications strategy. Finally, it will outline some tips to keep in mind when developing an internal comms strategy to maximize employee engagement, including an internal communication strategy example or two.
Defining an Internal Communications Strategy
An internal communications strategy is a strategic plan to ensure that the messages and the communication channels that employees have and use are properly transmitted to support the overall business goals and company mission. An effective internal communication strategy will outline how managers and executives communicate certain types of information to engage employees and ensure that information is being shared widely and effectively.
It considers the message itself and how to tailor it to a specific audience or group, noting whether specific communications channels, such as the company intranet or internal social media, will keep more employees engaged. It also provides a way for employee feedback to make its way to department heads, senior management, and key stakeholders. When everyone understands the internal communications strategy, it ensures that the company’s business objectives are reached.
The Benefits of Having a Well-Developed Internal Comms Strategy
Several benefits can be realized by teams that have created a strong internal communication strategy. While the benefits may not seem necessary for every company, implementing communication tools to better a personal connection to employees and hit key metrics for success, a business will thrive overall. Each benefit is one of the key elements for business success and the company vision.
Increase Employee Engagement
One of the best results of developing a robust strategy is the uptick in employee engagement levels within the company. By focusing on an effective internal communications strategy, a company can boost employee engagement by ensuring that every employee feels both respected and heard. They can better retain the information that is passed on to them and know the best practices for sharing communication that they may have with other team members.
By increasing two-way communication channels and ensuring that key messages are shared effectively throughout the entire organization, the organization will likely see engaged employees thriving within the workplace.
Another major benefit of internal communications planning is the boost in productivity that the company will likely see as the internal communication channels improve and the company begins to see internal communications success. One of the biggest issues when workplace communications do not meet standards is the lack of clarity around tasks, deadlines, and expectations. The internal communication efforts will ensure that the company’s employees can understand the business goals and the tasks they are given, helping each employee to achieve their tasks promptly and to meet expectations.
Another common issue when communication goals are not met is the inability of employees and staff to deal with change well. If changes in management or company structure are not communicated well, it can leave employees feeling left out and impact performance. When you have a great internal communication strategy, the appropriate communication platforms are used to help employees understand both how the change will impact them and why the change is taking place. This will help improve employee engagement throughout the shift and beyond.
Problems will pop up, even when you have the most successful internal communication plan. However, with internal communications plans, management understands how to address the problem with employees and implements the problem-solving models that they have created to help address such situations. Without the proper internal communications tools, the problem will likely become bigger. Effective communication will stop problems before they escalate.
Considerations to Make When Developing an Internal Communications Strategy Template
Now that you have a grasp on the reasons a robust internal communications strategy is vital to company culture and part of the best practices you can have, we can shift to the considerations for developing your template for your internal communication plan. The following steps or considerations will help you to develop your best practices for internal communication.
Define Your Current Plan
The first thing that you will need to do is define your current internal communication strategy, whether or not you and your team are following a formalized plan. By defining the current plan, you can create a strategy to build upon with anything you create in the future. Two major aspects of communication strategy and influences will need to be evaluated.
One of the first aspects to consider is the audience within the organization that will be receiving communication. Within a larger corporation, you may have multiple locations around the world. For smaller companies, there may only be a few employees. Understanding what makes each location, employment level, and employee unique will help influence the ways that you engage with each person.
How do you make adjustments for organization-wide communication that spans multiple time zones while ensuring that no one feels like they are receiving the new late or have been forgotten? Are there cultural differences between employees that will need to be identified and honored? If these considerations are not currently being made, you will need to conduct a company survey to ensure that you can address these situations in the future.
For some employees, it may be difficult to receive information through certain channels due to their work environment. If you have a hybrid workforce where some employees are working from the office and others are working at home, it may not be a good idea to announce a meeting without the remote employees looped in and accounted for. Similarly, it may be hard to contact employees in certain environments, such as newsrooms or customer service centers.
It is also important to evaluate the various points throughout an employee’s tenure that you are interacting with them. When they join the team, there is likely some kind of welcome and training that they go through to learn about the organization and their role. Employees often have performance reviews that help them understand how to better align the work with the goals of the business.
If an employee needs to be disciplined for one reason or another, there is likely a plan on how that is communicated. Finally, when an employee leaves an organization, they usually interview to let the company know what they enjoyed about the job and ways that the culture could improve.
These touchpoints are vital to gathering information about employee well-being and engagement, and they are also important to consider in the overall strategy that you and your team may develop. Your communication strategy should involve both the company-wide information and necessities and the individual information that needs to be shared. Identifying the weight that these are given will help you develop a better system.
Identify the Important Business Goals
This is especially important for businesses starting from scratch, but once you have an idea of how your communication strategy is working, you will need to identify the most important goals and aspirations for the business, because each decision you make regarding communication tools or anything else will need to be in furtherance of these goals.
When you have these goals in mind, whether it be an open channel of two-way communication with employees or world domination with your product, you will need to identify what parts of your current strategy are serving these goals, and which parts are not.
Look at your current internal communications content and determine if it aligns with your company goals and whether it accomplishes the goals that you have set for your work. If it meets these expectations, you may be able to make minor adjustments for efficiency or to encourage high employee engagement. If it fails to meet these goals, you will need to redefine the internal communication standards that you have set for your team and business.
These goals will also help you to identify guideposts for an internal communication strategy that can impact whether your team can make progress toward these goals.
Make a Plan
Once you understand where you are and what your goals are moving forward, it is time to make a plan to achieve these goals. You can identify changes that need to take place within each area of communication mentioned. You can also look at an internal communications strategy example to help guide you when you are unsure of how to proceed. The following examples may be helpful for ways to change up your strategy and accomplish your goals.
Internal Communications Team
For some companies, the best way to ensure that internal communications are accomplishing the goals they need is to create a team of employees focused specifically on internal communications. This team will put together meetings, create internal channels for communication, and often receive communication and feedback from employees. This allows other management to delegate these tasks and allows a team to be focused solely on the internal comms strategy. You will also want to make sure that individual teams have a point person for communication as well.
As we identified before, each employee will respond to communication differently, which may require tailoring messages and addressing concerns. While it is not possible to tailor messages to an individual employee in a large company, understanding the barriers that may come into play and having a plan to avoid them is key to overall communication strategy. An example of this may be reaching out to the same team several times through various means or channels to ensure that they have received the message and understand what the expectations are.
Evaluate the Plan
Once you have created and implemented strategies to help change the way messages are communicated throughout the organization, you will need to ensure that you have ways to measure the success of the changes and address any issues that are still popping up. This can include an annual review of the communication plan to ensure that it is still accomplishing the necessary goals or a system of feedback from employees to measure their engagement.
If the changes made are working, you can continue to let them play out. If they are not pushing you and your team toward your goals, you may need to return to the steps above to accomplish these goals. Changes within a company will likely influence the way that important messages need to be communicated, but with a robust internal communication plan, you and your team will be ready for any new challenge that comes your way.
Having an effective internal communication strategy is a vital element to the success of your organization. Once you have answers or outlines for the above-mentioned steps, you can start to see what can be improved and adjusted. Measuring the effectiveness and success of a communications strategy is a constant task that will continue to evolve as your business and teams develop. Each part of the plan has an impact and the strategies will define the success of your business.
To learn more about building an internal communication strategy and mediation tactics and more, contact ADR Times today!