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 also 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? We’ll show you with this step-by-step guide!
What is an internal communication strategy?
A well-developed internal communications strategy outlines how teams and departments should communicate with each other to support the company’s business objectives. To be effective, this strategy needs to make sense based on your unique business goals, operations, and the needs/preferences of your team members.
Building successful internal communications requires work, but by starting with a solid plan, you will have clearly defined steps to follow toward your goal.
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?
Creating an internal communications strategy is one of the best things a company can do to promote key messages and impact employee engagement. In turn, this improves retention, acquisition, and productivity within the workforce.
Employees work (and feel) better when they’re engaged with what they do. And when you improve internal communications, keeping your frontline employees engaged and motivated becomes much easier.
A good internal comms strategy can provide a number of other company-wide benefits – from facilitating swift crisis communication in the event of a disaster to easily broadcasting important company information.
Some of the biggest advantages offered by a thorough corporate communications strategy include:
There’s no overstating the benefits of having an engaged workforce, and yet, according to Gallup, only 32% of U.S. employees report being engaged at work.
Engaged employees are more productive, more likely to stick around, and more likely to refer your company to other job seekers. While a lot goes into keeping your employees engaged, effective internal communication is one of the most important elements.
When employers encourage employees to openly express their thoughts and engage with their coworkers, they feel like they are part of the bigger picture. Likewise, ensuring that your employees always have the information they need to do their jobs effectively will also boost engagement.
One of the best communication tools for promoting employee engagement is a social intranet like Workvivo. A social intranet serves as a sort of private social media site for your company, offering a platform for easy two-way communication and streamlined information sharing.
Establishing a company culture isn’t as easy as deciding what you want your culture to be. A strong company culture takes time and effort to cultivate, and one of the biggest keys to creating a beneficial culture is great communication.
There are several reasons why effective communication is vital for creating a strong company culture. For one, communication is key for establishing expectations and helping employees understand how their actions contribute to the company’s culture.
Far too often, employees, teams, and departments within a company work in silos. Without the right communication tools and best practices, collaboration suffers.
One of the major benefits of an internal communication strategy is that it encourages company-wide communication. When employees and teams have the tools to communicate more efficiently, it’s easier for them to collaborate. The ability to easily share information with the entire company also makes it easier to keep everyone aligned toward common goals.
Using a social intranet, such as Workvivo, is one effective way to facilitate communication throughout your company. With Workvivo, employees have a platform for efficient two-way communication that connects the entire company and unlocks the power of company-wide communication.
How to create an internal communication strategy in 10 steps
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.
1. Assess your current situation
Before you develop a new internal communications strategy, you should assess your current situation using the following as a guide:
- Review your internal goals. List strengths and weaknesses in your previous internal communications planning. If you didn’t have a strategy or plan previously, start by determining the goals you’re trying to achieve in the future.
- Run an internal audit. Before making any changes, analyze what’s currently working and what’s not. Hiring a consultant to help 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 from all the teams and departments, you’ll get a 360-degree view 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 (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.
2. Decide what you want to achieve
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 behavior 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 considering these questions, you can set SMART goals for your communication strategy to align with key business objectives.
3. Consider your team members, leaders, and stakeholders
Your company likely has several teams and department types that you should address in your plan, and it might not make sense to use the same language for all of them. After all, your audience might include senior executives, key stakeholders, and numerous departments within the company.
So, when you’re devising a company strategy for strong internal communication, it’s essential to consider and involve everyone who will comprise your internal communication teams. By building your strategy around your people, you can leverage employee communication to improve your company’s employee experience.
4. Think about the overall message when sharing information
How can you ensure your message will engage your employees? Here are three things to consider to make sure you get the right message across:
1. Start with an elevator pitch. This is 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 what your employees need. Determine what information they need to work efficiently and what goals you are trying to accomplish with your message.
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.
5. Encourage two-way communication (not top-down communication)
Two-way communication is one of the most important communication best practices – and there are several ways companies can encourage it.
To start, allow your employees to express themselves more casually. Communication professionals recognize 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 opinions through open communication 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!)
6. Use data and metrics to guide your decisions
If you followed step one and reviewed your current situation, you should have the data to narrow your objectives down to the most effective ones for your company. You should base your internal communications strategy on these objectives.
However, there are other ways to leverage data and metrics to promote effective internal communication.
Start by tracking how well your communication goals perform within your organization, paying special attention to email open rates, click-through rates, and survey feedback. You can then use this data to regularly audit and optimize your communication strategy and channels.
With Workvivo, companies can unlock these valuable workplace insights and use them to develop an optimized communications strategy for maximum engagement.
7. Use the best intranet and communications channels
Your communications strategy provides the blueprint for reaching your company’s internal communication goals – but you must use the right tools and channels to execute the ideas.
When selecting communication tools and channels for your company, be sure to ask the following questions:
- How will you 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 jobs that need doing?
- Is there a way for your staff to articulate their feedback, share their ideas, or raise their concerns?
One excellent communication channel to consider is a company intranet. With a social intranet like Workvivo, you can create a dedicated platform for sharing information and promoting streamlined two-way communication that helps establish a strong company culture.
8. Remember the best practices for corporate communications
You’ve got a lot of options when it comes to communicating with your employees. Some of 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 ideal if you need to keep details from your meetings or reference specific dates
- Emails. These work 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. The most effective way to build a company culture around collaboration and encourage rapport among team members
(Pro tip: You can create social reactions and surveys for company teams, making it easy to ask your employees anything in a fun and engaging way!)
9. Continuously measure your progress with the right tools
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, you may want to prioritize communication metrics such as:
- Attention rates
- Email open rates
- Link click-through rates
- Used devices
- Feedback and responses received
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.
10. Stick to the plan and revise as needed
Your internal communication plan should be more than a yearly record of tactics and messages. It should establish priorities, keep everyone in the company updated, and define your company culture.
You should create a repeatable process for tracking your progress. 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 more engaging surveys.
Commit to revisiting your plan regularly. This way, you can check your progress, make adjustments, and ensure you’re on the right track to hit your objectives. You should also consider adopting project management tools to keep track of your company’s progress.
Let Workvivo help with your internal communications plan
Workvivo is passionate about empowering businesses to communicate effectively with their employees. That’s why we’ve developed this free internal communication strategy template that includes all the key elements you need to begin your planning.
To learn more about how Workvivo can help develop your internal communications objectives and get valuable employee feedback, book a Workvivo demo today!