It is common these days for a business to develop an internal communication strategy to maintain links with directors, managers and employees. The benefits are as many and varied as the methods involved with implementing and running an internal communications system.
We’re going to look at the subject, starting with an overview and then moving into more specific examples. We will also discuss the importance of effective internal employee communication and examine innovation and improvement in this realm.
What is Internal Communication?
Simply put, internal communication is the function of distributing various types of information within an organisation. This could include information travelling from:
- Directors and management to employees;
- Employees to directors and management;
- Employees to employees.
Although not all businesses have specialised internal communication departments, this is a function that is practiced by almost every company of every size in some form or another. To ensure that this messaging is consistent and able to reach its intended recipients, it is often considered to be a good idea to have a solid internal communication strategy in place.
Internal Communication Examples
The internal communication methods which can be employed as part of a considered and consistent strategy fall into four general categories:
- Online, such as email, conference calls and intranet posts;
- Print, such as posters, leaflets and internal magazines;
- Environmental, such as noticeboards, mounted screens and fixed signage;
- Face-to-face, such as meetings, forums and conferences.
These internal business communication tools can be used on their own or combined in different ways and forms to ensure that they reach their intended recipients and have a desired effect.
Why is Communication Important in Business?
The importance of business communication comes down to the organisation in which it takes place. For example, start-ups and SMEs may have different requirements to larger businesses. However, companies of all types are likely to be able to benefit from at least some form of internal communication strategy. The advantages of effective communication can include:
- Consistency, ensuring that your entire organisation is on the same page when it comes to key issues;
- Engagement, allowing all employees and managers to be able to take part in the communication process and thus feel valued;
- Productivity, allowing for easier collaboration and saving time when it comes to the spreading of information;
- Motivation, giving employees the incentive of appearing in company-wide communication initiatives as a reward for successful work;
- Coordination, ensuring that the goals of the company are known by all and able to be implemented;
- Control, spreading news and information reliably and consistently.
As you can see, one of the primary advantages of having an internal communication strategy is to ensure that employees know and understand the policies and aims of an organisation. A strong internal communication plan will break down silos and encourage growth.
Another major advantage of internal communication is that it gives employees a ‘voice’. This not only helps with motivation but allows for the development of a conversation between all levels of a company’s structure. Based on this, it is possible for directors and managers to better gauge perceptions within a company and to more effectively plan workflow and promotions.
Innovative Internal Communication Ideas
Methods of internal communication in business have improved in the past few years and if you are involved with decision making at any level it is worth keeping abreast of them. Just some of the newer methods which have gained traction include:
An internal blog can be a good way for company members to share knowledge, information and updates in a readable, engaging form. It can also foster employee engagement, as many blog templates allow for commenting.
- Social Media
Social media systems can be used to improve internal employee communication by creating an online community which anyone in a company can contribute to. At its best, this allows for the flourishing of creativity. However, social media systems need to be managed properly in order to ensure that they function correctly.
Sharing videos can be one of the most powerful methods of internal communication in a business. These can be streamed live or saved to a company’s intranet system and watched by employees when they have the time. Video is often considered to be less demanding and more engaging than text, making it a good format for reaching large numbers of people.
Companies often overlook the space in front of most employee’s faces, but it is possible to use screensavers effectively for internal communication. Desktops and screensavers can contain inspiring messages that are aligned with a company’s goals. They can also be updated continually to share news.
Moving away from the online sphere, it can be a good idea to produce a printed internal newsletter or magazine. This way employees will have something tangible to hold in their hands and read. Ideally, they should also be able to contribute to the editorial, ensuring that communication flows both ways.
How to Improve Internal Communication in an Organisation
We’ve discussed a variety of methods of handling internal discourse, and any of these can be employed as part of an effective communication strategy. But it should be mentioned that change tends to occur regularly in any industry.
So, if you are looking to improve the effectiveness of your existing internal communication, it might be worth focusing on the future. Communication methods may require regular auditing and updating if they are to be effective. Your message and company tone of voice may have to change too in order to keep up.
Adaptation is the key to so many business functions and communication is certainly no different.
Image courtesy of iStock
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This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 20/08/21.