Internal Comms Checkup: 6 Symptoms of an Ailing Approach

Lisa Ardill

Content Editor at Workvivo

30 May 2023

Overdue for an internal comms checkup? Realizing that an apple a day won’t make your employees stay? We’re here to help.

Whether your internal comms is floundering or flourishing, it requires regular checkups. Taking its temperature is a crucial task if you want to build and maintain a healthy company culture. And since culture is one of the most powerful tools in your kit as a leader, investing in an internal comms checkup is entirely worth it – it all comes full circle!

We’re here to help! Read on to learn more about some of the symptoms to look out for in an ailing approach to internal comms.

Symptom 1: You don’t know how your employees are feeling or what they want

If Chris Tarrant asked for your final answer to the question, ‘what do your employees tell you that they want from their workplace?’, and you had to go with Option D – I Don’t Know, you’d be missing out on much more than prize money. That’s because establishing a rapport with your teams where they feel comfortable being candid about their needs is priceless. 

You might ask to Phone a Friend, but it’d be a little too late in the game to get any real answers in an obvious rush job. 

The solution doesn’t mean taking Phone a Friend to its extreme and Phoning Every Employee in the Company, but it does mean asking your people to share their feedback. 

> Prescription: Draw on a variety of means to strike up meaningful conversations with your employees. Employ regular surveys, but keep them short to prevent fatigue. Run deeper questionnaires less frequently but just as consistently. Set up live Q&As where you can answer questions candidly in real time. Give every employee a voice and a place they can use it, and take tangible action as much as you can.


Symptom 2: The only time you find yourself talking to staff is when you have a corporate announcement

Every company needs crystal-clear communications about important updates – that’s a given. But it’s hard to build a culture – one that enriches the employee experience and gives your people the opportunity to make meaningful connections and get the most out of their job – if the only times they hear from you are during corporate announcements.  

Building a company culture that resonates means you’ll need to get more open, more personable, and more vulnerable with your internal comms. It’s much harder to engage your staff when they feel like they’re on the other side of a divide between their department and the leadership team.

> Prescription: One solution? Encouraging people to talk about things beyond their day job, and doing the same thing yourself. If someone’s reached a personal milestone – having a baby, getting married, getting a new puppy, achieving a personal goal – celebrate it! Get to know employees for their whole selves, and they’ll feel like they can bring their whole selves to work. That’s a telltale sign of a healthy culture, and it’s largely driven by how you choose to communicate.  

Symptom 3: When you need to tell your teams something, email is your go-to

Internal comms strategies that rely solely on email are outdated. They’re not inclusive, they add to information overload, and they’re not conducive to two-way conversations.

According to Forbes, a 2021 survey showed that email fatigue could drive up to 38% of workers to quit their jobs. The same article says that for 89% of employees – yes, almost nine in ten – sorting through their inboxes is one of the worst parts of working remotely. 

61% of employees ignore emails in the workplace and 48% feel fewer emails at work would improve their job satisfaction. A 2021 survey found that email fatigue could push up to 38% of workers to leave their jobs and that for 89% of employees, sorting through their email inbox is one of the worst parts of working remotely. 

> Prescription: An email is never going to carry the same weight as a platform that lets you share different kinds of messages in different ways. Employee apps that let you live stream Q&As, host podcasts, tie updates directly to company values, and give your colleagues shoutouts, for example, are your best bet if you want your internal comms to thrive.

Symptom 4: Your people are turning to shadow comms

You’ve heard of shadow IT, but is shadow comms on your radar? Shadow comms evolves in an organization when employees turn to tools outside of the workplace to talk to each other and get their jobs done. 

For example, a company that provides its teams with comms tools that aren’t user-friendly – or with no tools at all – is much more likely to experience shadow comms. Shadow comms poses a few problems, with a lack of security as one of the biggest risks. 

But it also means you haven’t implemented a suitable work environment for your staff, and that you certainly can’t scale it.

So, how can you turn this shadowy horror story into a happy ending?

> Prescription: Provide your people with comms tools that meet their needs so they don’t have to go searching for acceptable alternatives on their own. These should address as many employee needs as possible, from inclusivity and easy access to important information to a place where people can get to know each other and have fun. 


Symptom 5: When you send out surveys, you don’t hear back

If you’re asking employees to share their thoughts but getting no result, there’s something that needs to change. This is a symptom that could be caused by several underlying issues; perhaps the surveys you’re sending are too long or aren’t asking the right questions, the culture is a traditional, top-down setting that doesn’t encourage open communication, or the tool you’re using to issue the surveys isn’t right (see point above regarding email!). 

> Prescription: To get to the root of this symptom and treat the issue, you’ll need to assess each of these areas. Brush up on survey etiquette to ensure you’re not overloading people with information, or giving them too little. Learn what a true open comms model looks like and take steps to achieve it. And if you’re sending out surveys via company-wide email, consider a transformative platform like Workvivo.

Symptom 6: People aren’t using the tech stack you’re providing

It’s critical that you keep a close eye on adoption rates of tools you’re bringing into the lives of your employees. If they’re not using particular systems, they’re not finding value in them, and that can lead to greater disengagement

So, if you’ve implemented an internal comms tool, how will you know that it’s adding value to your teams? Any platform worth its salt will have a comprehensive analytics function, giving you insights into its adoption, monthly logins, and engagement. 

How you communicate about the tool is also key. If people don’t know it’s there, they can’t be expected to use it regularly. And if you don’t lead by example as a user of the platform yourself, don’t be surprised if nobody else does either. 

> Prescription: Do your research and find a tool that your employees will love. Measure the value it’s adding to their roles regularly. Communicate the importance of the tool, and also use it to build open, inclusive, and engaging conversations between colleagues. 

Workvivo’s just what the doctor ordered!

If your communication strategy is falling short, it’s a good idea to carry out an internal comms checkup (or an audit) to identify where you need to improve and how you’re going to do it. It’s an even better idea to consider Workvivo as your partner in transforming your company culture. Want to find out how? Book your demo today.