Updated: 01 July 2022
Creating an internal communication strategy may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By following a few simple steps, you can develop a plan to ensure your internal communications are aligned with your business objectives.
Engaged employees contribute 20% more revenue compared to less-interested employees
If you want your employees to feel informed and in control, you need an internal communication strategy. This internal communication plan will ensure that everyone is up to date on what’s going on within the company, from changes in policy to new product releases.
An internal communication strategy can help foster a warm and open company culture by providing a platform for official and more casual communication.
So, how do you create a successful internal communication plan? Keep reading to find out!
What Is an Internal Communication Strategy?
An internal communications plan sets business goals in communicating with employees and plans the tasks required to achieve those goals. Your internal communications strategy is the blueprint that guides you to attain internal communications success.
Building successful internal communications requires work, but by building a plan, you ensure there are clearly defined steps to follow every step of the way.
Creating an internal communications strategy is one of the best things a company can do to promote key messages and impact employee engagement, and, as a result, improve retention, acquisition and productivity of the workforce.
According to Harvard Business Review, 71% of company managers with 500 employees or more feel that employee engagement is one of the most important factors for a company’s success.
A well-developed internal communications strategy outlines how teams and departments should communicate with each other to support the company’s business objectives.
Stick with us on this, we’re going to show you how to build your own internal communication plan. Plus to make it a whole lot easier, we’ve created an internal communication plan template that you can use to build your plan. (You’ll find the template at the end of the post)
Why Do You Need an Internal Communication Strategy?
It’s simple: excellent internal communications planning will ensure employees are engaged in their workplace. An engaged workforce is:
- Significantly more productive
- More creative
- Able to provide higher customer CSAT levels than less engaged organizations
There is a ton of research showing that employees work (and feel) better at their workplace when they are engaged in what they’re doing.
Let’s take a look at some statistics:
- Companies with engaged employees perform 200% better than those without, according to Culture IQ reports
- If you extend your investment in employee engagement by only 10%, you can increase your profits per employee by $2,400 per year
- Fabick CAT made a 600% return on investment just by investing $500,000 in its people
- Employees who are disengaged cost companies $450-550 billion every year, according to a report from Gallup
- Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave an organization than disengaged employees
Love statistics, news and advice about creating a great company culture?
Resources to create the culture you’ve always dreamed of
The Benefits of an Effective Internal Communication Strategy
Effective communication can bring several benefits to a business.
- By improving communications between employees, an internal communication plan can help boost morale and increase productivity
- In addition, an internal communication plan can help ensure everyone is aware of the business’s objectives and knows their role in achieving those objectives
- Monitoring employee reactions can lead to internal communication planning based on real insights
- Engaged employees help meet business goals of improved retention, productivity and employee satisfaction!
Our Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Internal Communication Strategy
Anytime you need to get a message across to teams or employees, you should consider using an internal communication plan. It will show you how to transfer information properly and how best to articulate your point so that it resonates.
What follows is a practical framework you can use to create your internal communication strategy.
Later we’ll share our free internal communication plan template so that you can create an internal communication plan of your own.
Question 1. What’s Your Current Situation?
Before you start developing a new internal communications strategy, you should assess your current situation using the following as a guide:
- Review your internal goals — You should list strengths and weaknesses in your previous internal communications planning. If you didn’t have a strategy or plan previously, you should start by determining the goals you’re trying to achieve in the future.
- Run an internal audit — Before making any changes, you should analyse what’s currently working and what’s not. Hiring a consultant to help you with the audit will benefit you as they will provide you with a fresh and independent perspective.
- Run a company survey — Surveying your employees is an effective and direct way to gather their feedback. For example, Workvivo offers a creative approach to surveys, with a huge library of ‘just for fun’ questions and themes.
- Run sample group interviews — It’s nearly impossible to talk to everyone in a large organization. For that reason, group interviews are an effective way to gather quality feedback. If you speak with a group representative of all the teams and departments, you’ll get a 360-degree picture of your company.
- Gather measurable data — Do you have tools to track your internal communications? If you don’t, you need to find a tool that will provide you with everything from social interaction metrics like views, comments and likes to survey result reports.
- Compare results based on timeframes — Having an informative and charted description of your current situation enables you to compare the results of your internal communications plans from previous years to your current situation.
Wondering how you can run surveys, gather data and compare results about your team?
Unlock real thoughts and feelings with Workvivo insights.
Question 2. What Are You Trying to Achieve with Your Internal Communications?
To develop your internal communications plan, you’ll need to consider two things:
- Where do you want to be? — Do you want to increase engagement so you can benefit from less absenteeism and higher quality performance? Or do you want to change employee behaviour and motivate people more?
- What do you need to make it happen? — You may need to hire an outside auditor to show you what changes you need to make to get better results. Alternatively, you may need a new communication platform, one that helps your company function more like a community.
After you’ve considered these things set your objectives, taking into account:
- Effective objectives begin with having a vision
- Make sure objectives have end dates
- The best goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound)
Question 3. Who Is Your Target Audience?
Your company has several teams and department types that you should address in your plan, and you cannot use the same language for all of them. After all, your audience might comprise:
- Senior executives — An endorsement from a senior leader will validate your efforts and encourage other key executives to get involved.
- Key stakeholders — These are the people most likely to be affected by organizational decisions.
- Members of stakeholder teams — Colleagues of your key stakeholders.
- Experts in the subject — For instance, individuals from the HR department can tell if your internal communications plan will work.
- Company support — Organize discussions with people from the IT, finance, HR departments, etc., and they will tell you if your project is feasible.
- Local representatives — If your company has many locations, involving people from other regions can give you fresh ideas and powerful insights into how well your plan fits into different work environments, including remote working.
Question 4. What’s the Message You’re Trying to Spread?
How can you ensure the story you’re trying to tell will engage your employees?
1. Start with an elevator pitch: a summary of the most important points you’re trying to get across. The shorter, the better. After that, you can add and develop the details.
2. Ask yourself these three questions if you need help creating a straightforward message:
- What do your employees want (and need) to know to work efficiently?
- What’s the goal you’re trying to achieve? Faster communication? Clearer information?
- What is the news you want to spread to different departments?
3. Create and encourage two-way communication; if information only moves from the top down, you’ll get very little interest from your staff. Your employees need to be able to respond to information, express their worries and share their ideas without fear of censorship.
Question 5. How Can You Encourage Two-Way Communication
If this is something new to your internal communication strategy, you should ensure people understand the communication methods available and that they are free to share their honest opinions.
Your strategic internal communication plans must provide your employees with the tools and channels to empower them and give them a chance to express themselves. It’s best to have a few well-supervised forums rather than many neglected ones.
Allow your employees to express themselves more casually. Communication professionals recognise that informal communication among peers happens daily in every organization. Don’t try to silence it.
Instead, build your company culture around it — encourage everyone to share their honest opinion through multiple communications channels. As a result, you’ll see massive improvements in company morale and employee engagement, which can lead to business success.
If you want to empower your workforce to share their opinion, create an anonymous forum.
People won’t be afraid of speaking up when they can do so anonymously, and business leaders will see remarkable improvements in company culture. Not to mention, you’ll have a lot of valuable employee feedback.
Question 6. What Is Your Internal Communications Strategy?
If you’ve followed step one and reviewed your current situation, you should have the data you need to narrow your objectives down to the most effective ones for your company.
If not, book a demo with one of our team to see our insights dashboard in action.
You should base your internal communications strategy on these objectives, but there are a few additional things you can do to ensure your strategy is always on point:
- Review your internal communications strategy plan regularly — Senior management from high-performing companies regularly meet to review and update their plans. It’s a great way to evaluate which part of your internal communications plan is working and what needs improvement.
- Plan consistently — Your internal communication strategy should be consistent across all communication channels and tools your organization uses. As a result, you won’t have to change the way you communicate every time you start using a new tool.
- Audit your communication channels — Keep in mind that one size does not fit all. You should look at multiple channels and review which ones your audience uses most. In most cases, the channel that works for remote workers won’t work as well for your regular office employees.
- Measure your internal communications data — Keep track of how well your communication goals are performing within your organization. Pay special attention to email open rates, click-through rates and survey feedback.
- Share your internal communication strategy — You want to be as collaborative as possible and get help from the right people when developing your communication plan.
- Feel free to experiment with new channels and campaigns — Don’t be scared to try something different, such as introducing new channels of communication (if you think they can work better compared to your current ones).
Question 7. What Channels and Tactics Should You Use?
While strategies provide a blueprint for achieving your internal communications objectives, tactics show the specific tools and most appropriate channels you’ll use to deliver on your internal communications plan and the organization’s objectives.
When developing your tactics, keep in mind:
1. Introducing a timeline. This will also help you because all your suggested tactics will work together over time. Make sure to include all the details when creating your timeline.
2. Select your tools and ask the following questions for each of them:
- How are you going to ensure everyone is ready to participate in your internal communications plan?
- How will you engage your stakeholders and employees?
- What tools are in place to create meaningful two-way communication?
- Can your employees easily communicate with you?
Could you run surveys, polls, pulse surveys, etc.?
- Is there a process that helps employees find and communicate content or information to their colleagues about the job that needs doing?
- Is there a way for your staff to articulate their feedback, share their ideas or raise concerns they have?
3. What are the internal communication tools currently available in your company? You’re far more likely to engage and grab your employees’ attention from across your organization if you use a variety of channels. This is because people communicate in different ways. Some people prefer face-to-face meetings. Others prefer surveys and online chats.
Looking for an all-in-one solution communication platform that combines your existing communications tools with new ways to communicate, plus surveys and polls?
Question 8. What Are Best Practices for Internal Communications Strategies?
It would be best to strategize potential tactics and channels with your team.
Organize a session for people to share their opinions and ideas. This way, you’ll find the best approach to the internal communications process.
The best practices for internal communications strategies are:
- Face-to-face —The best way to create a personal connection and encourage change in your employees
- Meetings — The best approach when you want to communicate complicated ideas or get instant feedback
- Notes — This is the best approach if you need to keep details from your meetings or reference specific dates
- Emails — They work very well for those who have frequent access to their computers or phones and don’t need an immediate response
- Videos — When you want to appeal to visual and auditory senses and communicate your story, you should create short videos to help get your message across
- Internal social media — This is the most effective way to build a company culture around collaboration and encourage rapport among team members
Question 9. How Will You Measure the Progress of Your Internal Communication Strategy?
As the old saying goes, what gets measured gets managed.
Depending on the objectives you have set for your company, what you measure will vary. However, you should try to measure every variable and piece of data you can.
If your main goal is to increase employee engagement in the workplace, take a look at:
- Attention Rates
We already talked about how low employee engagement leads to problems within the company. Ensure you’re checking your attention rates and looking for ways to improve them.
To measure them, you should track your company turnover, open rates and click-through rates. This way, you’ll be able to calculate your attention (and retention) rates. Get a spreadsheet and update it with your most up-to-date information from the HR department.
- Email Open Rates
Measuring your open rates shows how well informed your employees are about important company announcements. A low open rate indicates that people ignore what you’re sending them. Plus, it means your subject lines are not working.
- Link Click-Through Rates
The link clicks will show you how well you engage your audience. A low click-through rate should tell you the content you’re sending is irrelevant. This means you should change it up by identifying other audience preferences.
- Used Devices
In today’s digital workplace, almost everyone checks their email on their phones. You should keep tabs on which devices your employees use to consume content.
It’s straightforward to measure link clicks, location and which devices your employees use, regardless of if you’re using Gmail, Outlook or Webmail.
- Feedback and Responses Received
If you haven’t used surveys yet, you’re missing out. They are the best way to understand what engages your employees when it comes to internal communications.
Workvivo enables you to create social reactions and surveys for company teams. You can ask your employees anything in a fun and engaging way.
After collecting all this data, you’ll learn what content to create and how to engage your employees better. By tracking what content works best for any given situation, you can create different audience segments for your internal emails and tailor your content to them.
Question 10. How Will You Stick to Your Internal Communications Plan?
- Your internal communication plan should be more than a yearly record of tactics and messages. It should also establish priorities, keep everyone in the company updated at all times and define your company culture.
- You should create a repeatable process and methodology for tracking how far you have come. For example, if you’re creating a weekly internal employee survey, you should have tools to review and send out your content. You can try using survey templates to easily build surveys in an engaging way.
- You should always keep in touch and book meetings with your fellow leadership team. This will help you stay on top of every situation and understand how your company adapts to changes.
- You need to ensure your senior executives know what you’re working on and vice versa.
- Ensure your work is visible to your entire team. You want to be aware of what your colleagues are doing in the same way that the rest of your team desires transparency.
- Commit to revisiting your plan regularly, even weekly. You’ll be able to check your progress, make adjustments and ensure you’re on the right track to hit your objectives.
- You should adopt project management tools to keep track of your company’s progress. There are lots of amazing internal communication tools you can look at, starting with Workvivo.
Free Internal Communication Plan Template
We’re passionate about empowering businesses to communicate effectively with their employees.
We’ve developed this free internal communication strategy template, including all the key elements you’ll need to begin your planning.
If you’d like to understand more about how Workvivo can help develop your internal communications objectives and recognise employees’ thoughts, book a demo to run through our platform and ask about our analytics tools.