Learn more about the most important types of internal comms tools you need to know about, plus our tips on how to build an effective toolkit.
A solid set of internal comms tools can mean the difference between a workforce that’s engaged, informed, and performing to the best of its ability – and one that’s disengaged, confused, and emotionally distanced from work.
But maybe you’re a growing company that hasn’t yet found the need to really invest in internal comms tools.
Maybe your internal comms ecosystem has organically grown over time, without you giving much thought to how everything fits together.
Or maybe you’ve just recently evolved from an in-person culture to a remote or hybrid one – and communicating at a distance is suddenly much more important.
Whatever the reason, if you haven’t invested in internal comms before now, this is the time to start. In this post, we’ll take you through some of the most important types of internal comms tools you’ll need to know about so you can confidently choose the right one.
Why now is the best time to invest in internal comms
Many organizations use a collection of internal comms tools that they’ve slowly added to their tech stacks over the years. And while this may work fine for a small organization, it can start to cause problems as you grow.
Truly effective communications require an internal comms setup that’s been deliberately planned as one cohesive ecosystem – so if that’s not your current situation, this is as good a time as any to start making some improvements.
There are also a few specific reasons why right now might be a particularly good moment to reassess your internal comms tech stack:
1. Remote work is here to stay
Unbelievably, it’s now been almost three years since a huge chunk of the world’s workforce suddenly had to figure out how to work from home. To help us understand how remote work is (still) affecting employees, let’s have a look at what the stats say.
According to Buffer’s 2022 State of Remote Work report:
- 24% of remote workers suffer from loneliness at work
- 25% said they were unable to unplug from work, and 20% said they now work longer hours than before
- 17% reported difficulties with collaboration and communication with colleagues
- 56% said how they collaborate and communicate has changed since they started working remotely
While that last stat might not sound so shocking, think about it for a moment: that means that for almost half of the employees surveyed, the way they collaborate and communicate with colleagues hasn’t changed since they started working remotely.
It doesn’t take an internal comms expert to understand that the methods of communication that work well in an in-person environment just don’t translate into the remote world. If you haven’t adapted your communication methods for long-term remote work, you could be doing your employees a disservice.
2. Employee engagement is at an all-time low
According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workforce 2022 report, 60% of employees are emotionally detached at work – and 19% are miserable. To provide a sort of snapshot of how the world’s workforce feel on a day-to-day basis, the survey also asked people if they had felt certain emotions the previous day – and the results were pretty shocking:
- 59% felt stressed
- 56% felt worried
- 31% felt angry
Clearly, employee engagement is suffering. But having the right comms tools (along with the right strategy) in place can help organizations to boost engagement by showing employees they’re valued, taking their feedback on board, and helping them to feel more closely connected to their company culture, mission, and values.
3. Economic uncertainty means people need transparency
With a recession likely to hit many of the world’s largest economies this year, this is a stressful time for many employees.
For one thing, it’s inevitable that some companies will have to make redundancies if a recession hits. Since many will also freeze their hiring efforts to cut costs, it will be harder for laid-off employees to find another job.
And these concerns about job security come as many employees are already struggling with their personal finances – which is a cause of stress to as many as 90% of Americans, according to a recent report.
In these uncertain times, clear and transparent communication is crucial. Keeping employees informed about any changes or developments that might affect them – and welcoming their feedback and concerns in return – will be key to minimizing distress. And none of that is possible without a solid internal communications toolkit.
5 types of internal comms tools to check out in 2023
So, you’re ready to start building (or improving) your internal communications toolkit. Great! Here are five types of internal comms tools to consider as you embark on that journey.
1. Instant messaging tools
Examples to check out: Slack, Ms Teams, Webex, Troop Messenger, Flock
Instant chat tools allow teammates to communicate with each other in real time, wherever they are. Naturally, this makes them just about the most important comms tool there is in the remote/hybrid era, since popping over to a colleague’s desk for a chat is (often) no longer an option.
If you’ve somehow made it to 2023 without an official instant communications app, it’s time to get one – not least because your employees are almost definitely already using one, even if you haven’t officially approved it.
(We’ll cover why ‘shadow IT’ like this is a problem further on.)
2. Videoconferencing tools
Examples to check out: MS Teams, Zoom, Google Meet
In the post-COVID, post-in-person world, interaction with colleagues is vital. And while a video call will never 100% replace the benefits of a real, in-person, human interaction, it’s about as close as we can get without inventing teleportation.
Videoconferencing tools like Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet allow team members to speak ‘face-to-face’ with colleagues one-on-one or in small groups – and they can even be used for company-wide all-hands or strategy meetings. Many of them also act as instant messengers, and some come with snazzy features like shared meeting notes, screen- and file-sharing, and automatic transcriptions.
And again, if you haven’t officially designated a tool to be used for video calls and meetings, your employees are almost certainly using one anyway – especially if you’re a remote or hybrid organization.
3. Project management tools
Examples to check out: Asana, Basecamp, Proofhub, Trello
You can think of a project management app as a noticeboard, checklist, calendar and meeting space, all in one location. These tools help team leaders to keep track of projects, document progress, and empower their teams to collaborate effectively from a distance.
Exact features differ from one solution to another, but these tools usually include the ability to create tasks, assign them to specific people, and even create automated workflows to keep things moving.
Again, these are valuable tools for the remote environment, since collaboration and organization can be more challenging when you’re not physically together.
4. Employee listening and feedback tools
Examples to check out: CultureAmp, TinyPulse, Officevibe
Most types of internal comms tools are designed to help organizations communicate with their employees, or to help employees communicate with each other. But how employees feed back information to their employers is just as important.
Employee listening is a way of gathering regular, real-time feedback and data from your employees on everything from how your organization is running to how they’re feeling. And, with disengagement on the rise and staff burnout a real risk for many organizations, it’s never been more important to understand what your employees are thinking.
Remember: we’re not just talking about the traditional annual survey that was common a few years ago. These days, things change quickly, and it’s considered best practice to gather feedback continuously throughout the employee lifecycle. Employee listening or feedback apps allow you to easily gather this information through polls and pulse surveys – which are quick and convenient for employees to respond to.
5. Employee intranets or portals
Examples to check out: Microsoft SharePoint, Workplace from Meta, Yammer, Jostle, Workvivo
Employee portals or intranets are tools that employees can use to access all of the information they need about their job and their work. This might include viewing payslips, finding information about benefits, and even checking the shared vacation calendar.
Some of these platforms also give employees access to shared drives and documents, and other things they need to do their work. Since they often include a mobile app, they’re especially valuable in giving frontline workers a way to find information.
A word of warning, though: all intranets are not created equal. In fact, there’s a pretty huge difference in use cases between more traditional intranets like SharePoint or Yammer, and more modern, more all-encompassing solutions, like Workvivo. We’ll talk about Workvivo’s intranet in a bit more detail below.
Our tips for choosing the right internal comms tools to add to your tech stack
These days, there’s an overwhelming number of different types of internal comms tools to choose from. And if you’re just getting started with building a deliberate, unified comms toolkit, it can be a bit daunting. Here are a few tips to help you pick the right tools.
1. Look at what your people are already using (even unofficially)
When employers don’t provide their employees with the internal comms solutions they need, employees have to get creative. As we mentioned above, if you don’t have an officially designated app for instant communications, for example, that doesn’t mean your teams aren’t using one.
This is known as “shadow IT”, which is when employees fill gaps with consumer-grade tech solutions that haven’t been approved by the organization’s IT or internal comms departments. And it can cause a number of problems. For example:
- These solutions don’t always come with appropriate security features, so you could be risking data leaks.
- When different teams and departments use different communication channels, it’s hard to keep everyone aligned. Employees end up missing information, and doubling work.
- When an employee leaves the organization, they might still have access to confidential information. They might also take information with them so it’s no longer available within the company.
- Shadow IT could also create compliance issues, especially in regulated industries like financial services or healthcare. This could eventually lead to fines or litigation.
When you’re building your internal comms toolkit, it’s important to find out exactly what programs, apps, and software your employees are already using, and what they’re using them for – even when those tools haven’t been officially approved. This will help you to ensure the tools you choose meet all of your employees’ needs, so they don’t need to resort to ad hoc, unapproved solutions.
2. Try to keep things simple
The whole point in investing in internal comms tools is to make things easier for your workforce. But if you add too many different tools, apps, and platforms into the mix, you can end up producing the exact opposite effect. Employees will be overloaded with information, but won’t know where to look for the specific knowledge they need. Messages will be missed, and employees might end up duplicating work.
To avoid this, try to keep your tech stack as simple as possible. By prioritizing functions that employees actually need (and not quirky features that won’t really help anyone) and looking for solutions that meet several needs at the same time, you can avoid overwhelming your employees.
3. Think about how everything will work together
When different internal comms tools don’t work well together, this can result in confusion and wasted time as employees are forced to manually copy information from one location to another.
So, when you’re shopping around for internal comms tools, you should always think about the other tools that your team already uses, and consider how any new program will work alongside them. For example, it’s a good idea to make sure your employee intranet works seamlessly with your instant chat platform (like Teams or Slack), since employees will probably have to use both on a daily basis.
Tying it all together with a social intranet platform
Workvivo combines the functions of many different employee communications tools in one intuitive, central hub. We’re not just another intranet; we’re a one-of-a-kind social platform that’s designed to capture the heartbeat of your organization, act as your digital workplace, and truly elevate the employee experience.
Using Workvivo lets you streamline your internal comms processes, and allows employees on every level across your organization to build connections with each other – even from miles apart. Plus, since our platform is designed to look and feel like a familiar social environment, your people will feel at home straight away – resulting in unrivaled adoption and engagement.
The best part? If our platform can’t do it, there’s probably an integration that can. You can integrate Workvivo with workplace tools like Slack, Zoom, Teams, Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 and more, for a totally unified comms experience.
Want to learn more about Workvivo? Book a free demo to get started.