What is Internal Communication?
Internal communication is all communication that occurs within an organization. It is also referred to as corporate communication or employee communication. Communication within an organization typically includes, but is not limited to, operational messages (e.g. daily tasks, shift notes, scheduling, etc.), leadership communication, human resources (HR) and benefits communication, crisis communication, and employee engagement activities.
Why is Internal Communication Important?
Internal comms is important because it ensures that the right employee groups receive critical, work-related information in a timely manner. It also helps departments across a company successfully implement new processes, tools, and technologies. A cohesive internal communications strategy helps improve the overall employee experience and, therefore, retention, employee engagement, morale, and even productivity.
Who Are Internal Communications Professionals?
Internal communication professionals are the individuals at an organization who are responsible for creating and implementing a communication strategy. Sometimes, human resources professionals fulfill the functions of internal communications or HR has a designated communication professional on their team. These departments are often small in most organizations.
What Are The Most Common Internal Communication Channels?
There are many channels that an internal comms professional uses. Traditional communication channels, often used for communicating with a largely desk-bound workforce, include Intranets, email, and in-person meetings (e.g. Town Hall). These channels are best for deskbound, knowledge workers because this type of employee typically works in offices and has access to secure channels like Intranets and are physically present for town hall meetings.
This is why internal communication professionals also rely on another set of channels for on-site employees, also called frontline or deskless workers. These channels include mobile apps, SMS texting, print signage, digital signage, and auto-dialers (often reserved for emergency communication).
What Are Internal Communication Best Practices?
We recommend conducting internal communication audits annually at your organization to understand your existing channels, audience, and ability to message groups effectively. It is also recommended that communicators actively measure to make data-driven decisions and strategies. Another best practice is to facilitate cross-departmental collaboration and partner with key stakeholders when planning communications campaigns.
What Are the Top Internal Communication Challenges?
The first challenge is that many internal communicators do not have a “seat at the table.” Many internal comms professionals struggle to prove their value as strategic advisors to senior leadership and can become stuck in a tactician role. And not having the seat at the table can often contribute to many of the other persisting challenges.
A lack of resources is another main challenge. Many IC departments lack both budget and human capital. Internal comms teams are often very small even at large organizations, but they have a very big job to perform. The lack of budget this team gets also limits their ability to adopt the right tools and channels to be successful. This results in gaps in access to communication across the company due to an inability to invest in channels that adequately reach and support the frontline workforce.
A third primary challenge IC pros state facing is lack of adequate time in their role (often due to a lower allotted headcount). They state that this impedes their ability to adequately strategize, measure success, evolve and change existing processes, and take on employee engagement tasks (i.e. “nice-to-know” stories and programs).
How To Create an Internal Communication Strategy
Creating an internal communication strategy requires cooperation with stakeholders across your organization and setting SMART objectives. Setting the right goals in advance helps guide your measurement and builds agility into your strategy because you can track your success in real time and course correct. And partnering with stakeholders early and regularly, you ensure that there is alignment across departments so you can all work towards achieving the overarching goals of your business.
How Do You Improve Internal Communication?
Improving the internal communication function does largely depend on your organization and existing challenges. But there are a few key tactics that you can use to begin elevating IC at your company, regardless of your needs.
- Conduct an Internal Communication Audit. This helps to identify any gaps in your internal communication strategy by showing you who your main audiences are, what channels you have, what channels your employee groups have access to, and what messages are shared on those channels.
- Focus on creating communication campaigns and not just one off messages. This is key to successful change management for any program or initiative you are communicating about. It also helps you leverage your existing channels in more thoughtful and effective ways.
- Make measurement part of your day-to-day. Because one of the dominant challenges in the industry is not being valued enough as a strategist, it’s important to bring numbers to the conversation with your executive leadership team. They want to see the ROI of your campaigns and programs. They want to understand why something worked or didn’t and that you have a data-driven plan of attack.
Internal Communication Trends
Many of the trends in the internal communications industry revolve around digitization and modernization of channels. These include leveraging mobile solutions for communicating, relying more on analytics platforms and channels that provide better measurement capabilities, and making it easier to localize the distribution of information.
But there are other trends as well related to what organizations value and how to put employees first. Many organizations have begun focusing on employee listening, which is much like social listening or consumer listening except focused on the employee voice. Internal communicators are often involved in employee engagement and employee experience improvements organization wide. These trends are rooted in the changes in employee trust (as measured by Edelman) which has indicated that employees care more about company purpose and values than ever before.
How Does theEMPLOYEEapp Help Internal Communication?
theEMPLOYEEapp was created by communication professionals who understood the key challenges facing the industry. Our product specifically aims to help organizations with largely deskless workforces to improve communication with frontline employees and frontline managers. By leveraging theEMPLOYEEapp, organizations are able to solve the challenge of frontline workers having access to resources, messages, and senior leaders.