23 Internal Communications Tools Your Company Needs
20 May 2021
Updated 23 August 2022
Communicating with Your Team Has Never Been More Important in the Age of Remote Teams
Whether getting employee feedback, brainstorming ideas, or collaborating on a project, having the right internal communication tools can make all the difference. Whether you have a team in an office, working from home, or checking in from another country, keeping everyone on the same page is a struggle. To pull it off, you need a solid internal communication strategy and the right internal communications tools to execute it.
What Is Internal Communication?
Internal communication is a process where a company and its employees have specific channels and guidelines outlining how they talk to each other.
Unlike other types of collaboration, internal communication will only work when everybody involved is transparent, engaged, and active on the company’s platforms. Whatever internal communication tools a company ultimately picks for communicating internally, to be successful, there must also be a shared understanding of how they are used and what goals the company is trying to achieve.
To pick the right internal communications tools, you need to know the different types of internal communication.
Types of Internal Communication
1. Organizational internal communication tools
Your employees work better when they have a purpose.
According to Gallup, receiving information and direction from the top of the company can make a massive difference in how organized your team is. The only way to do this is by setting up an internal communications strategy with a “top-down” approach, so your team regularly hears from those in charge.
This type of communication is essential for large companies, where the CEO or head of a department isn’t seen regularly. If they are communicating with their staff regularly, it helps build a we-are-all-in-this-together vibe.
Using organizational internal communications tools, you can create schedules, send out updates, and rally your team around a shared goal. The reality is that bolder companies at the cutting edge of internal communication are using internal podcasts and live video streams to connect directly with employees.
The result? Employees become engaged and are brought closer to the heart of an organization.
2. Internal communication tools for employee engagement
Employees who are engaged and invested in their work are happier and more productive.
And companies that employ these types of people are more profitable, too. Statistics show that companies with high employee engagement are 22% more profitable than those with less engaged teams, so it pays to invest in the right communications tools.
Just as a “top-down” approach is vital for internal communications, so is a “bottom-up” strategy. The emotional connection employees have to their organization is flatlining fast, and it’s harder for them to feel their voice is being heard. A “bottom-up” communication strategy encourages employees to give feedback, brainstorm new ideas, and build the human connection and belonging that’s key to bringing your team together.
The right internal communication tools will give your team the space to give feedback on projects, ask questions to those higher up the chain, and discuss ideas. These tools come in many forms, but they usually have comment sections, @mentions to alert other team members, and surveys to streamline feedback.
3. Employee relations internal communications tools
Engaging employees is one thing, but retaining them is a whole different ball game.
Research shows that nearly 64% of companies believe retaining employees is actually harder than hiring them, so maintaining a good vibe with your team is essential to keep them around. Employees want a good relationship with their company, too. A 2019 LinkedIn report found nearly half of all employees would give up some of their salary for a job with a sense of purpose.
And this is why internal communication tools are so important to building (and keeping) good relationships between companies and employees. Not only can they keep employees engaged, but by allowing teams to voice their opinions and get direct feedback from their boss, tools can give everyone in the company a voice.
So, how can you achieve all of this in your workplace?
Keep reading as we dive into 23 specific employee communication tools with examples.
Free Internal Communication Tools PDF
If you’re keen to get started, our free guide can help you find the right internal communications tools for your organization.
- Assess your own internal communications landscape
- Match the best internal communication tools to your goals with our matrix
- Get tips on improving employee engagement through employee communication tools.
You can download it here, so when you choose tools from our list, you can be confident they’re the right fit for your team.
Now it’s time to look at our top 23 internal communication tools ????
23 Best Internal Employee Communications Tools
Tool #1 – A Social Intranet
Visualize an office environment and try to imagine what that looks like online — a place where information is shared, documents are stored, and ideas are talked about over coffee.
A social intranet is a digital answer to achieving this for remote teams. In this internal communication tool, everything needs to be digital by default to create an equitable experience so people working from home can get to know their colleagues in a richer, deeper way.
With a social intranet, businesses can fuse culture with collaboration and improve employee engagement and the company itself.
Social intranets differ from traditional intranets because they focus on more than just work. They give your team a place to connect and build relationships, even when they’re working on a project. This is key for hybrid workplaces, where fostering a sense of connection is one of the biggest barriers facing companies and CEOs today.
Here’s what Workvivo’s social intranet tool looks like:
Not only can teams publish articles and ping their teammates, but they can also give feedback, post comments, and invite people to upcoming events.
This internal communication tool is a way to fuse calendars, social media feeds, and project collaboration under one roof. But it also does something traditional intranets do not — it encourages your team to invest in their colleagues’ wellbeing and stay engaged with their work.
The result? A more enjoyable, engaged workplace for your entire team to participate in.
Tool #2 – Employee App
With our workforce moving online, companies are scrambling to find new ways for their teams to stay connected.
A great way to make that a reality is investing in an employee app. Having a central hub your team can use to communicate (whether on their desktop or phone) is the next step in keeping your workforce connected, no matter where they are.
It also cuts down on the number of employee communication tools in your company’s tech stack — with one employee app that acts as a single internal communication tool, you won’t have to bother connecting a bunch of third-party tools to keep your team talking. It’s like having your entire company in your pocket!
Workvivo’s employee app combines activity feeds, collaboration spaces, and resource integrations, so your team can stay on top of important announcements and updates without drowning in their email inboxes.
Once everybody has downloaded the app, they will receive every essential piece of internal communication through a single interface. Easy.
Workvivo’s employee app allows your team to share updates, comment on articles, and gives everyone a voice to communicate.
Businesses that have used our app have seen employee engagement improve by up to 90%.
Tool #3 – Company Newsletters
Sending out regular newsletters to your customers is a great way to keep them updated on what’s happening at your company — why not use them for internal communications, too?
Company newsletters are a great (and cheap) way to provide regular internal communications to your entire team. You can add images, reports, and videos to make them more exciting, and it’s also a great space to shout out to employees of the month or any successful projects your team may be working on.
I love this internal company newsletter from Discovery Creative:
It’s split into sections, which makes it easy for employees to digest and pick out sections they want to read. The graphics also make it fun, and there are nuggets of positive feedback that will lift the team’s spirits.
Tool #4 – Employee Pulse Surveys
An important part of internal communications and the most accurate way to gauge employee health and wellbeing is to get regular feedback from them.
According to Forbes, Gartner predicts that this year, 75% of organizations will include employee experience improvement as a performance objective for HR and IT groups. Feedback is especially important for remote teams and those with lots of employees, as it can be hard to gauge sentiment with larger or dispersed teams.
Using employee surveys, you can gather regular feedback about how satisfied your team is, their morale, and what they really think about new policies or workflows you are trying to implement.
Interact’s Louise Berry suggests starting with some simple sentiment questions and asking your team to answer on a scale of 1-10 to gauge where they are at. She suggests statements like:
- “My manager is a great role model for employees.”
- “I am proud to work for [company name.]”
- “I know what I need to do to be successful in my role.”
Seeing how your employees engage with these simple, broad questions can give you a rough idea of the overall sentiment of your team. You can then use this as a foundation to build on for future pulse surveys. Look for internal communications software with polls and surveys built in to make this tool really work hard for you.
Tool #5 – Internal Social Network
With more and more teams working apart, Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) give companies a chance to engage employees on an equal playing field. When a team interacts on an internal social network, there is no hierarchy — a new employee can comment or give feedback on a blog post that the CEO has written, and it creates a safe space where your team can learn more about each other’s personal lives.
The only way to truly make internal communication effective is to break down barriers and offer a democratic solution for every single member of your team. Workvivo’s ESN helps companies centralize and organize their content and resources to be easily available to every employee, with push notifications for urgent messages.
It’s safe to assume that your team will know how to use existing social media networks like Facebook or LinkedIn, so there will be no learning curve. They can comment on posts, see personal activity feeds from other team members, and like articles they find interesting.
And because the space merges company content with goals and values, it becomes an internal communications hub where your team can go to ask for information or wish someone in their department a happy birthday.
Tool #6 – Instant Messaging
One of the most popular communications tools is instant messaging. Having an instant messenger tool in your internal communication toolkit is essential for collaboration.
Email just doesn’t cut it when someone needs an answer to an urgent question. With an instant messaging tool with push notifications, your employees can quickly ping another team member, text them, or send an image. More importantly, they can ask them to jump into a file they’re collaborating on or get instant feedback on an important project without waiting for an email answer.
However, while instant messaging tools have done a great job of boosting productivity, keep in mind that they’re not ideal for building cultural alignment.
Tool #7 – News Center
Keeping your team in the loop is essential, and if there is an important company news update at your company — they should be the first to know. Luckily, the right communication tools can help.
A news center should be open and available to your entire team and show important updates like press releases and news articles. It’s also a fantastic arena to post photos and updates of top-performing employees and products. Drift’s Newsroom is an excellent example of a simple company news portal that employees can use to stay updated on the company’s latest news.
The portal is split into sections (news, press releases, images), and employees can sign up for email alerts whenever an update is posted.
Tool #8 – Employee Recognition and Rewards
The idea of having an “employee of the month” is a little old school, but recognizing work from top employees is now built into some communication tools.
An employee recognition portal is an integral part of any internal communication strategy because it gives you a place to congratulate team members — virtually. It’s what every employee is craving after over a year of working from home and is a great example of internal communications.
Cisco created a global, peer-to-peer recognition and reward program centered on its core values to help engage and keep its employees. With a massive team of 60,000 employees, the company wanted to create positive interactions within its team and improve employee satisfaction.
So, it created the “Connected Recognition” program, where the most engaged Cisco employees receive an award every 30 to 40 days, and people can nominate other team members. The program has been a success, with over 85% of employees engaging with it.
“We wanted to put power in the hands of people through peer-to-peer recognition because they’re the people who see you every day.
We know the power of teams—your manager may see just one piece of your work.”
Gabrielle Thompson – Senior Vice President, Cisco
Tool #9 – Onboarding
Successful onboarding can make a huge difference in how well a new employee adjusts to an environment at a new company, and internal communications play a big part in that.
To make this happen, you need to create an onboarding experience unique to your company and give every new hire the tools they need to succeed in their role. After all, building human connections through personal communication from onboarding will be crucial to retaining talent.
An internal communication strategy that integrates social interactions, training, a knowledge base, and a people directory will go a long way towards successful onboarding any new hire and ensuring they’re ready on day one.
Tool #10 – Video Library
Videos are an ideal way to keep your team’s attention on training, onboarding, or updates.
An Institute for Public Relations study found that video updates have been among the most effective internal communication tools for companies, beating out other channels like recorded calls and mobile apps.
With a digital workplace, you can integrate video into your internal communication strategy and educate your team on everything from culture to new product releases and events.
Tool #11 – Document and File Storage
The way we collaborate has changed a lot in the last decade.
A key part of any internal communication strategy should be where documents and files are kept so your team can work on them — together.
You should aim to build and maintain a central library where every important document lives so that anyone on your team can access them at any time. In the library, you should keep key policies and documents and ensure they are all kept up-to-date, so when a team member accesses them, they’re confident it’s the right one.
Pro-tip: We recommend integrating your central library into your intranet so it’s easy for your team to find and access documents without having to use an extra tool.
Tool #12 -Activity Feeds
Keeping your team updated and in the loop about the projects they’re working on is an important part of any company’s internal communications.
With real-time activity feeds, your team will get notifications and alerts each time an article is posted onto an intranet feed or they’re mentioned in a comment. Activity feeds are particularly useful for cross-collaborating teams or those with lots of people, as it’s easier to keep everyone in the loop without sending out blast emails.
The cornerstone of any employee communication and engagement effort won’t be faster conversations or token perks but human connections. Employee communication platforms give your company the social glue it needs to spark emotional connections and spontaneity and inspire the conversations your team craves.
An employee communication platform like Workvivo has inbuilt activity feeds in its intranet portal:
Every time content, images, attachments, or links are posted in the portal, they will show up on activity feeds in real-time.
Tool #13 – Analytics/Measurement
Reporting tools can help gauge your employee’s sentiment and see how productive and happy they are.
By tracking your team’s interactions with content posted inside a social intranet, you can see which posts perform best. For example, you can tag content posts with cultural values and see how many daily interactions it receives from your team and if it performs better than other content, like policy or news announcements.
HR and Internal Communications leaders want to know how to deliver targeted content, but the most important question is always the same — how do we know if people read it?
You can also measure the best day and time to post important content to get maximum interaction with your team. Workvivo’s measurement tool will track which pieces of content have the most interaction, the best time and day to post content, and the most active team members.
Tool #14 – People Directory and Organizational Chart
Making your entire team’s contact details available is a big part of showing them how important transparency and accessibility are for your company.
The best way to do it? Build a people directory and organizational chart.
Creating profiles for every person on your team and adding a photo and contact details makes it easier for everyone to find who they’re looking for.
Adding an organizational chart ensures your team can find the right person by checking their role and title before reaching out to them for help.
Tool #15 – Application Launcher
App launchers are a handy tool that can bring your entire tech stack together under one roof.
There’s no need to change your existing systems. All you need to do is integrate your most popular work tools that your employees use for anything and everything.
With an app launcher, you can integrate external tools into your intranet and make it easier for your team to access them when needed. For example, Workvivo’s app launcher allows you to add external tools like annual leave apps and career portals so your team can use them whenever they need to.
You can also add specific apps to a “Featured” category to draw people’s attention and improve accessibility for frequently-used apps.
Spearline’s Chief People and Culture Officer, Lorraine McCarthy, says having an app launcher has streamlined her team’s processes.
“The fact that the “app launcher” is integrated with most of our other applications makes it even easier to do things like book some time off, update a document or sheet, or even check on how your performance is progressing,”
Lorraine McCarthy – Chief People and Culture Officer, Spearline
Tool #16 – Events Calendar
Calendars can get messy, especially if your team holds lots of meetings and events.
To streamline your internal communication, your company should aim to have a single source regarding event calendars. Creating an event calendar for the entire company can do just that.
With the right intranet tool, you’ll be able to plan and schedule essential Zoom meetings, social catch-ups, and virtual town halls with your entire team. With Workvivo, you can easily create an event and schedule it into your team’s calendar by setting a date, time, and place:
Once the event is scheduled, it’ll appear in the company calendar as well as on the right side of the dashboard of every team member’s intranet page. You’ll also be able to track who has RSVPd and send out any important updates to attendees!
Tool #17 – Internal Podcast
Podcasts have continued to grow in popularity and are now one of the best tools you can use to interact and engage with your employees.
According to Forbes, over 100 million people now listen to podcasts at least once a month. And it’s easy to see why they’re so successful: it’s real content spoken by real people, and that’s why podcasts can be a huge asset when you are growing your internal company culture.
In our social lives, we send videos, go live, listen to podcasts, and send voice messages. So, why not harness that creativity in your workplace?
When PTSB, one of Ireland’s leading providers of personal and business financial products and services, was exploring ways to engage with its team of over 2,500 people, it had an idea — why not podcasts?
Creative Designer Stephen Donnelly says the company now uses podcasts to tell stories to its team and deliver authentic, personal messages. And they love it — the first episode had a click-through rate of 64%, and soon employees were approaching him with ideas for future episodes.
“Corporate messaging is supplemented with personalized content containing real stories and ideas from colleagues,” Donnelly says.
“And it’s proven to be a powerful vehicle for connecting and engaging employees across every level of the business.”
Tool #18 – Employee Feedback
Giving your team constructive feedback is one of the best ways to improve their performance, yet over a third of employees wait over three months to receive it from their managers.
Any internal communication tool worth its salt will allow employees to ask for feedback and managers to deliver it — promptly. Depending on your company culture, you can solicit feedback in many forms, from simple surveys to open discussion forums.
Workvivo’s pulse surveys give employers a quick, simple way to get feedback from their team on anything from health and wellbeing to leadership, personal growth, and ownership. Here’s an example:
Once everyone has given their feedback, Workvivo automatically correlates it and turns it into a report. You can then look for ways to improve your processes and see what you are getting right.
Tool #19 – Knowledge Base
Your team can solve problems independently — as long as you give them the tools to do it.
An in-depth internal knowledge base can help your employees troubleshoot problems and should contain as much information as possible to allow them to do so without asking for assistance. The difference between an internal knowledge base and the type you build for your customers is that the one you create for your team will also have access to confidential documents, like processes and passwords.
It takes time to build an internal knowledge base from scratch — but it’s worth it because it can empower your employees to solve their own problems and learn more about your company along the way.
Tool #20 – Social Advocacy
Encouraging your team to advocate for your company on social media is a great way to build trust with the general public.
An internal communication tool can allow your team to post and amplify specific internal content, like product updates or workplace satisfaction, with their personal social channels.
Not only will you be able to leverage your team’s personal networks, but one-click sharing makes it easy for them to spread the message if they wish. A bonus is that your team may be on some networks, like Twitter or Weibo, that your company is yet to build a following on, so you can reach new audiences.
Tool #21 – Collaboration Spaces
Collaboration spaces are ideal for building micro-communities within your team, from planning social interactions to working on specific projects.
Instead of posting content to your entire team, you can use collaboration spaces to share content with specific people. Each time someone posts in a collaboration space you are involved with, you will get an update on your activity feed, so you never miss out on anything.
Tool #22 – Broadcast Alerts
Do you ever need to tell everyone in your company the same message at the same time?
Instead of sending out an email, try using broadcast alerts.
Broadcast alerts are a key tool that can be used to notify your team about critical events, especially for often-forgotten deskless workers.
If you have an internal intranet, you can use the tool to send out important, time-sensitive alerts and updates. Your team members will then get a push notification to log in to the intranet portal to read it in full.
Using a tool like Workvivo, employees don’t even need an email address to receive alerts, so you can truly communicate with everyone — no matter where they are.
Tool #23 – Strategic Alignment (Company Goals and Values)
Finally, let’s talk about how important it is to have your entire team working towards a shared goal.
To successfully merge your team with your company strategy, you need to find a way for employees to align their daily activities to your overall goals. Harvard Business Review (HBR) found that tying purpose to strategy is the key to reaching company goals.
HBR’s Jonathan Trevor says this only happens when companies have a tightly managed value chain.
“To win, enterprise leaders must find their own distinctive approach to aligning their business strategies, organizational capabilities, valuable resources, and management systems to fulfill their enterprise’s purpose,” he says.
Using a digital workplace to share values and goals by posting and sharing content can make this a reality. By having a central, single source of truth for all your cultural, strategic, and social goals, you can create a hub full of inspiration, resources, and collaboration.
Thanks to the rise of remote work, creating a space for your team to communicate, collaborate, and build relationships is now more important than ever.
The good news is that there are many ways to keep your team connected, even if they are physically separated. Investing in the right internal communication tools can empower your team to plan events, give feedback, and keep up-to-date on important announcements, all under one roof.
Now comes the hard part — what internal communication tools are the right fit for your team?
How to Pick the Right Tools for Your Team
With so many great communication tools available, it’s tricky to know where to start. Our guide will help you to:
- Assess your digital communications
- Match the best internal communication tools to your goal
- Provide you with tactics to improve your employee experience.