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Why internal communications is important

By Corey Moseley

13 min read

Why internal communications is important
Illustration by Grey Vaisius

It’s astonishing to think that there are companies out there that still undervalue or neglect internal communications. But they do exist. And their businesses are likely suffering as a result.

Some companies may not have the resources to invest in an internal communications strategy, while others have planned a strategy but might not have the capacity or tools necessary to maintain it. And that’s understandable. But if you look at the reasons why internal communications are important (by continuing to read this article), you’ll soon find that it’s imperative for the health of your organization. Why? Because if your organization has people, you’ll need to communicate with them clearly and regularly.

What are internal communications?

Internal communications is how we share information with each other within a company. This means sending messages and campaigns on management’s behalf and having conversations with everyone who works at the company. The idea is to keep everyone in the loop and encourage everyone to be open and involved.

There are a lot of things that go into internal communications, like telling people about new policies, giving updates on how the company is doing, or doing surveys to see how people feel. HR, marketing, or PR departments usually handle this, but anyone can help.

Having good internal communications is essential. It keeps everyone informed, builds a strong culture, gets people excited about work, and helps everyone stay calm when things get crazy. Plus, it can make work a little more interesting and fun.

Seven reasons why good internal communication is important

1. Internal communications (IC) keep your people informed

We’ll start with the most obvious reason why IC is necessary. Keeping your people informed of upcoming events, policy changes, engagement initiatives, headcount changes, and updates on the business’s overall health helps create a sense of transparency and openness that people respect.

Here’s a real shocker: people don’t like to be kept in the dark, like mushrooms. They crave information about the company they’re working for, the projects they’re working on, and the overarching goals of both. Good internal communication is all about getting the word out to everyone, preferably in a way that gets them involved and invested in the bigger picture.

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2. Internal communication gives people a more holistic view of your organization

In that same vein, internal communications is often thought of as top-down messaging written by leaders for the consumption of employees. Really, it’s a two-way street. Sure, you can hone your messaging to direct people’s attention, but eventually, their attention will wane, especially if they feel voiceless.

In other words, it’s not about captivating a passive audience with the right messaging; rather, it’s about promoting two-way communication around what’s happening at your organization. People want to feel like their input matters, and creating a venue for them to do so will do wonders for building engagement.

This works exceptionally well if messaging, news, and announcements are delegated not only to your marketing or HR department but also to representatives of many different departments within your organization. The tech team should have the opportunity to explain what they’re working on, as should the QA and Sales teams. (This is the interdisciplinary approach discussed earlier).

Appointing news reporters and event coordinators from multiple departments to publish their own updates gives your people a more holistic view of the things that matter at your organization. So, use your internal communications to provide different people a voice.

3. Internal communication helps build out your organization’s culture

In many ways, the primary role of internal communications is to help make your company culture manifest. Your IC strategy will bring your workplace culture to life if done well. If done poorly, it’ll leave your people scratching their heads.

After all, each announcement, message, news update, CEO blog article, etc., plays a role in how your people interpret the cultural landscape of your organization: what it stands for, who it values, and why its mission matters. Your company culture is the sum of its parts, and good internal communications take this into account.

In fact, culture should be at the forefront of your IC strategy: built into the messaging, the tone, the back-and-forth discussion, and the news that’s shared and omitted. Your culture should guide your internal communications and vice versa. Why? Because a robust, thriving company culture is essential.

Bring your people together

4. Internal communication gets your people engaged

I can’t emphasize this enough: creating a two-way conversation should be one of your main goals with your internal communications strategy. It’s the difference between boring top-down messaging (probably in the form of mass emails no one reads) and thoughtful, interactive conversations promoting engagement.

Engagement can mean asking thoughtful questions at an All Hands event, commenting on a crucial news update posted on your company’s intranet, and sharing what your team is working on with the rest of the company. Good internal communications creates space for these small yet meaningful acts. Again, it’s not just about communicating ideas as much as it is about encouraging communication among your people.

Employees who feel that their voice matters and that their ideas are worth listening to are more likely to go above and beyond when your organization needs them. And the value of that can’t be underestimated.

5. Internal communication helps keep people calm in times of crisis

Things don’t always go swimmingly. Business sometimes suffers, teams are sometimes forced to restructure, and mergers and acquisitions happen. This is when people need internal communications most. Announcements of impending structural changes must be treated with extra care because the organization’s morale and business continuity are at stake.

Being transparent about what went down, who was affected, how they were taken care of, and what this means for the organization requires a delicate tone and complete transparency, especially in the case of layoffs. People will have questions, and the way you answer those questions will remain in your people’s minds for a long time to come.

Use your internal communications to create a setting for these difficult-to-have conversations, and—promise—you’ll earn the respect of your people. Being transparent and delicate when delivering bad news creates an open and caring atmosphere that can help sustain your organization through tough times.

And besides that, your people will respect you for telling it like it is. This example is one of the most crucial aspects of IC and demonstrates why underutilizing it can quickly turn your people against their organization.

6. Internal communication creates another dimension to your workplace

A lot of people find their jobs dull. They go to work, talk to a colleague or two, attend meetings, get their work done, and then book it out the door as fast as possible. And that’s perfectly fine for a lot of people. However, for those who crave more involvement in their workplace and want to play a more direct role in developing its culture, that kind of work style isn’t satisfying.

This is where good internal communications steps in. It promotes learning and speaking events and leadership training programs, shares customer feedback and media coverage, and provides opportunities for people to get more involved if they want to. For some people, this isn’t important—and that’s OK! But some of us want to get more out of our work, whether through education or training or finding meaning in company values and goals.

If those opportunities exist, but no one knows about or takes advantage of them, your internal communications strategy isn’t working, and to some degree, you’re failing your most engaged people. Empowering members from multiple teams to promote their events and programs or share their news gives your people the information they need to add another fulfilling dimension to their work.

7. Internal communication creates a channel for feedback, debate, and discussion

To promote open communication at your company, your communications strategy must create room for feedback, pushback, and public debate of issues and ideas. This is how collaboration happens, and it’s not always pretty.

Internal communications can be harnessed to create a channel for these challenging discussions. This can happen in a number of ways: employee polls, a link to an internal discussion forum, an event announcement to encourage feedback and criticisms, or even an org-wide invitation to debate a particular goal or project.

The same goes for feedback. One more time: internal communication is (or ought to be) a two-way street. Listen to your people and regularly ask for their feedback. That way, if an update or post doesn’t go as planned, you can learn how to avoid making mistakes in the future. Good IC always finds a way to improve and better serve the organization’s people.

How to build an internal communication strategy

Building an effective internal communication strategy requires planning, collaboration, and a clear understanding of your organization’s goals and culture. Here are some steps you can take to create a successful internal communication strategy:

1. Identify your audience

Start by identifying your audience. Who are the key stakeholders in your organization, and what information do they need to know? Consider factors such as job function, location, and level of seniority.

2. Determine your goals

Next, determine your goals for internal communication. What do you hope to achieve with your communication strategy? Are you looking to improve employee engagement, share important news and updates, or build a stronger company culture?

3. Choose your channels

Choose the channels that are most effective for reaching your audience. This may include email, intranet, social media, or face-to-face meetings. Consider the preferences of your audience and the type of information you are communicating.

4. Develop a content strategy

Develop a content strategy that aligns with your goals and channels using regular newsletters, social media updates, or internal blog posts. Ensure your content is engaging, informative, and relevant to your audience.

5. Create a schedule

Create a schedule for your communication strategy. Determine how often you will communicate with your audience and what types of messages you will send. Make sure your schedule is consistent and that you are communicating regularly.

6. Measure your results

Measure the effectiveness of your communication strategy. Use metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, and employee feedback to determine what is working and what needs improvement. Use this information to adjust your strategy as needed.

By following these steps, you can build an effective internal communication strategy that helps you achieve your organization’s goals and build a stronger, more engaged workplace culture.

Best practices for your internal communications

Now that we have a blueprint for transforming internal comms, let’s discuss best practices. Implementing best practices into your internal communications strategy helps you sustain the benefits. Over time, these tenets will be so deeply ingrained into your company DNA that the processes will be effortless, and the rewards will speak for themselves.

1. Centralize all comms to one platform

Your employees use various channels to communicate internally and externally. Switching between apps or devices to use one or the other is counter-productive and can actually inhibit communication. By centralizing all comms to a single platform, workers have everything they need at their fingertips—video conferencing, email, instant messaging, Slack, etc.—accessed with a single sign-on. Integrating these tools into the employee success platform or intranet removes friction and ensures seamless comms whether employees are working in or out of the office. 

2. Encourage bottom-up and peer-to-peer communication

Encouraging bottom-up employee communication keeps leaders and managers in touch with employee sentiment and needs and informs them what information should be communicated. Peer-to-peer communication ensures open connectivity between employees and their direct superiors, supporting transparency and improving productivity and collaboration. These communication methods should be supported by technology and by nurturing a feedback culture across the organization. Employees should feel empowered to speak up and valued for their input, so make it easy for them to do so. 

3. Spotlight your top advocates

Highlight your top communicators and make them champions of your internal communication strategy. Spotlighting high performers encourages them to do their best, while being responsible for coaching others gives them purpose. The benefits are numerous; employees tend to respond more positively when coached by a peer, and the process itself will foster collaboration. Don’t limit yourself to management or employees in supervisory roles. Champions can be found at any level; what really matters is their enthusiasm and ability to pass that excitement on to others. 

4. Make sure people aren’t getting too many messages

Our days are inundated with emails, texts, and messages coming at us from every direction. Adding volumes of internal comms to the pile isn’t going to help. In fact, it may cause some to tune out completely. Segmenting and personalizing internal messages ensure the message is timely and relevant. We have sophisticated marketing automation at our fingertips, so why not use the same techniques to communicate internally? Ideally, your messages should be specific to the recipient or their department and contain the necessary information. By structuring internal messaging this way, open rates and engagement will improve. 

5. Gather feedback and encourage discussion

Communication should never be one-way. The best way to drive excellence is to ask employees periodically and consistently what they like and don’t like about the technology, systems, policies, and procedures you’ve implemented. By considering their feedback, you will clearly understand what’s working and where comms can improve. Acting on these suggestions shows employees that their input matters, encouraging them to speak up more often. 

Internal Communication Ideas

Now that we’ve framed the building blocks of an internal communication system, it’s time to put it into practice. Your employees already communicate with customers and with each other for various reasons. Still, it’s vital to ensure that all those conversations and interactions connect back to the company and its mission. 

In other words, it’s all well and good to establish a plan and put it into motion but it needs to be consistent, reliable, and have a straight line to the top of the leadership chain. Here are a few tangible (measurable) ways to enable and support internal communication. 

1. Company newsletter

Company newsletters are where you can inform employees of successes, milestones, initiatives, events, programs, and other things of interest. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate and recognize individual or team accomplishments, which gives employees an added reason to open and read. Consider items you can include as a regular feature, such as introducing new employees or profiling existing ones. Here’s where you can also let employees know about open positions, mentorship opportunities, or training courses they can sign up for. Make it interesting, engaging, and relevant to their interests, and they will read it!

2. Create visuals (like infographics)

With all the information we must process daily, a visual document is a breath of fresh air. Explainer videos and infographics are a couple of examples of what you can create. These can be used to introduce new products or explain new initiatives to encourage buy-in. Visuals simplify learning and reinforce the idea that you value your employees’ time. 

3. Polls

Occasional polls can be used to gauge employee happiness or opinions around any number of topics. In best practice, polls should be simple, relevant, and to the point so as not to create poll fatigue. Since sending out polls can be distracting, choose your timing wisely. Monthly polls may be enough to give you the insights you need to inform improvements. 

4. Get to know your people series

Some companies have “employee of the month” or feature star players in their company newsletters. Consider establishing a series dedicated to highlighting people or teams. Randomly choosing someone to highlight may lift up people who no one outside their team would otherwise know. Jostle’s people module is a visual employee directory representing all workers in the company. It provides a place for employees to click and learn more about others’ skills, backgrounds, and interests and may support stronger work relationships and a sense of belonging.

5. Webinars

Webinars are an excellent way to deliver information and training and can be especially helpful when companies have remote teams or multiple locations. Be sure to open up the floor for comments and questions at the end to encourage feedback and interaction. Use live Q&A and chat to satisfy all queries. For a more passive way to relay information, you can also stream the latest on Jostle TV, so employees can connect with company news and happenings even when they’re not at their desks. 

6. Town halls

Town halls, also known as “all hands” meetings, can be held weekly, monthly, quarterly, or whenever you feel the need to bring everyone in the company together. It’s typically where leaders communicate future plans, recognize employees or teams for their excellent work, and generally engage people with the company mission. Town halls can be in-person, online, or hybrid and should allocate 30% of the allotted time to Q&A or open discussion. Beyond relaying information, town halls are intended to create a sense of belonging and connect individuals to a greater purpose. 

7. Open chats

Open chats are essentially online chat rooms where employees can freely discuss a specific topic or project. Establishing chats around topics, issues, or special interests allows others to find and join the discussion and can also inform leadership as to what issues are top of mind in the workforce. Encouraging open chats is a way to validate the employee experience. It also builds community; if one employee is experiencing an issue, chances are they’re not the only one. Open discussion helps bring solutions to the table and builds trust.

Final Thoughts

Good internal communication is a vital aspect of a strong company culture. To ensure the best possible outcomes, provide employees with the right technology, tools, and guidance to enable it. However, just handing someone a tool doesn’t mean they’ll automatically know how to use it. Building internal communications best practices into your culture, staying consistent, and measuring the results will drive continuous improvement. 

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