Internal communication is in many ways the Cinderella of the PR world. All too often, it is treated as an afterthought and a nice to have, lacking the importance and value of external communication. However, this perception couldn’t be further from reality.
Communication is all about delivering the right message to the right audience, and internal communications focus on the most important audience for any business, their employees.
A company’s internal communication efforts are potentially the single most important driver of employee satisfaction. Employees are a company’s biggest asset, so those who feel more involved and aware of the company’s objectives and activities are likely to be happier, promoting better performance and employee retention.
Good internal communication is more than just gimmicks, giveaways and competitions; it must become an essential part of your everyday activities. Without it, management decisions may be made in a vacuum without the buy-in of employees, which can lead to disengaged staff. The rumour mill often spreads speculation much faster than the facts. Misinformation kills employee confidence and damages an organisation’s internal reputation.
At Onyx Health, we’re strong advocates of the value internal comms can add to a business; we’ve developed four tips we think all companies should focus on.
Advances in technology have changed the nature of internal communications, with businesses increasingly embracing internal communication apps, software and internal intranet platforms.
While the technology has changed, the fundamentals haven’t. One of the golden rules of communications is don’t launch into tactics before you’ve nailed down your strategy. Using the latest technology can add value to your internal communications, but it won’t work effectively unless it forms part of a wider vision. Before even writing your internal communication plans, determine what you want to achieve. By understanding your goals and the needs of your employees, it is easier to work back to ensure your internal communication is fit for purpose. Getting the strategy right isn’t always easy, but it pays huge dividends in the long term.
It’s time for businesses to think beyond just sharing information; a company newsletter may inform, but it does not engage, and it is crucial to remember the importance of dialogue. Do you want to motivate your employees, do you want them to work better together, collaborate on new ideas or perform better?
The social media interaction revolution is here to stay, so think about how you can best use it to your advantage to interact with your employees. This isn’t just about sharing information in a top-down fashion. It’s about creating a wider dialogue between employees that makes them feel valued and engaged. To be effective internal communications should be a conversation and not a monologue.
One of the best ways to use internal communications is to foster a sense of company culture. Businesses need to consider how their communication strategy embodies their brand values.
Your values need to be like the letters in a seaside stick of rock and run through everything you say and do. Making this happen in reality requires authenticity. Developing an authentic brand narrative is essential to giving your internal comms credibility and getting employee buy-in. This culture should run throughout the organisation, from the Chief Executive to the Receptionist, creating a compelling vision and a sense of shared purpose.
Employee disengagement can be a big issue for any business. Having an effective employee comms strategy is one of the best ways to facilitate a positive working environment and an engaged workforce. A communication culture where people on the ground are always “the last to know” can be very alienating.
A great way to achieve employee empowerment through internal comms is setting up coaching and mentoring schemes. This enables senior, more experienced staff members to pass on knowledge and skills to more junior team members. Creating a supportive culture based on knowledge sharing can add huge value to your business.
We’re always happy to chat with businesses about their internal communications; if this interests you, then drop us a line.