For any organization, a strong internal communication strategy will keep everyone on the same page and set the precedence of a collaborative environment. This builds team unity and makes employees feel valued.What is internal communication? It’s inclusion. It’s taking care of your employees and making them feel appreciated for what they do every day. This is the key to your success. The point of a strong communication strategy is to unite your workforce in its message, so it’s working together as a team, and to fuel employee engagement. If you take care of your employees, success will follow.
"Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients." -Richard Branson, founder of The Virgin Group.
Companies with engaged employees are 21% more profitable because their employees are 17% more productive, according to a Gallup study.
Productivity increases because your employees are passionate about their jobs and where they work. It’s a simple rule of thumb that all executives need to understand and it should come as no surprise. Supporting employees leads to better productivity, which leads to higher profits. Do the best you can to support your employees.
The responsibility of a company is to serve the customer. The responsibility of leadership is to serve their people so that their people may better serve the customer. If leaders fail to serve their people first, customer and company will suffer.— Simon Sinek (@simonsinek) March 29, 2018
In order to support your employees, you need to implement the right cultural practices. People across the organization need to know that collaboration is a must. People should work together, encourage each other, bounce ideas off one another, and listen to the perspectives of different people.
They also need to have the right tools in front of them. Communication and collaboration software is key for internal communication. Make sure you give employees tools they’ll actually use, and train them appropriately on them so they have no barriers or hurdles.
“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other.” -Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft.
There is a clear benefit to internal communication in any organization, but what is internal communication? And how can you implement it?
What is internal communication?
Internal communication is the system of processes and cultural support in the workplace that fuels employees to stay connected, in the know, and collaborate with each other.
Internal comms need to be part of your company culture in order for employees to understand that collaboration is not only welcomed but encouraged. Your internal communications strategy requires the right tools that make sense for your specific organization and its processes. For example, if your organization is fully remote, has to abide by strict compliance regulations, and works internationally across several time zones, it will require different tools and policies than an organization that does not.
An internal communication strategy unites your workforce, creates teamwork, and is a part of your company culture. Valuing your employees, encouraging them to work together, and keeping them involved in decision making, leads to stronger company culture and better results.
A strong internal communication strategy benefits your employees by making them feel involved, valued, and more connected to their job.
But what is internal communication to the organization?
It’s a way to boost productivity. With all your employees on the same page, working together, and feeling more valued and connected to their job, they’ll be more productive.
If you think your organization already has a strong culture, think again.
Only 27% of US employees strongly believe in their company’s values, according to Gallup. This means that a large majority of U.S. employees do not feel passionate about their organization’s mission. They don’t have a strong connection to their job or the brand they work for. It’s likely that your workforce is not on the same page.
While this statistic may be eye-opening, it also presents an opportunity. If your workforce is on par with others out there, think about how much more productive it could be with just some small improvements to your internal communication strategy.
To improve internal communication, you need the right internal communication tools in place. Cloud applications allow users to collaborate and communicate from anywhere. You could be editing a doc in real-time, sharing files, and talking face-to-face over video chat.
There are plenty of tools out there that let you do almost anything, and it’s up to you to find the right ones to solve the problems of your specific organization. What allows your internal communication strategy to thrive depends on tools and culture. Picking the right tools is a big part of that, and that’s up to you and your colleagues, as is building the right culture.
Each person who works at your organization has a huge impact on your company culture, especially if you work at a small business. It’s extremely important to keep that in mind during your hiring process. Hire people who match your brand values. Bring in people who are collaborative, genuinely want to learn, and are passionate about what your organization does. That is exactly what makes a good hire for your workplace.
What is internal communication? It means a better workplace culture.
If you infuse your cultural values into your hiring process, then after a while you’ll eventually have a large number of employees who fit exactly what you’re trying to build. It’ll be easier to sell people on your values if you hire them knowing they’re a good match.
When your employees buy into your company’s mission, it fuels employee engagement at your organization. This leads to higher productivity since they are more connected to their jobs and more passionate about your brand. And, that leads to better profitability.
In fact, highly engaged teams tend to show 21% greater profitability than then unengaged counterparts. And when teams are highly engaged, they exhibit more energy, heightened passion and purpose, and tend to be more creative in solving problems.
When they’re more connected to your organization, they’re less likely to leave.
There is a slew of reasons why you want strong communication and employee engagement across your organization, and internal communications is a huge driver of that.
According to a white paper published by Robert Walters, 74% of professionals feel demotivated when at an organization when they’re a poor cultural fit, and 47% said they struggle to work effectively. An overwhelming 69% of those employees want to leave their job as soon as possible.
But when employees are appreciated and feel as though they are a valued part of the team, it has a polar opposite effect. Employees who feel their voices are heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered and perform their best work, according to Salesforce.
Engaged employees are driven and passionate about what they do. They believe in their organization and their role in it and they want to do the best they can. When you have a whole team of people who feel this way, only good things happen.
Your internal communication strategy may require a shift in business processes. You need to encourage open communication with your employees. Let them know their voices matter by being open to their ideas.
You also need to acknowledge employees for the work they do. Small things like a company-wide email or Slack message highlighting a person or a team of people can go a long way. So can boasting about your employees on an employee advocacy platform, where their peers can share the good word with their social networks.
You want to create an environment where people know they’re valued, their voices and successes matter, and they have free range to share ideas with colleagues and management.
What is preventing you from implementing this company culture? Maybe it’s not a cultural barrier. Maybe you don’t have the right tools in place. This is a common problem, especially for remote employees.
You want to identify the difference between where you want to be and where you are now. What’s holding you back? What are you doing now that isn’t in line with where you want to go?
Identifying these internal comms barriers is the first step in turning them around. Have your executives and managers let the organization know that you want employees to ask for help from each other and managers. You want employees to share ideas with each other. Encourage them to do so and put your processes and communication strategy in place.
To get people on board with a more collaborative work environment, you need to communicate to them what you’re trying to accomplish and have people in your organization be the examples of the goal.
If your workplace is very siloed and people don’t tend to help each other out or collaborate, introducing internal communication tools will be a big shakeup to your company culture. You want to communicate your internal communication strategy from the top down. Have your executive team let employees know the direction you’re moving, and get influential people throughout your company to buy-in early on.
If employees are still not comfortable with the change of a collaborative environment and communicating more often when executives encourage it, they will be when they see influential people in the workplace doing more of it. The change will be more accepted by employees when they see other employees doing it.
Encourage departments to have weekly one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers to encourage transparency and teamwork. This should not be a performance review meeting. Instead, it should be a way to work together, stay on the same page, and bounce ideas off each other.
The departments and organization as a whole should have open meetings with the rest of the department and the rest of the organization, respectfully, where employees will know goals, how the department or organization is doing, future initiatives, and more.
Being transparent makes employees feel included and builds that strong connection between the employee and the organization.
Internal business communication is not segmented by department. It’s not segmented by types of people. It’s something you want your whole company to do. This is why you need your whole company to buy-in.
You need to work with the leaders of each department to let them know what you are trying to accomplish and adhere to their requests. If you want people to work together and collaborate throughout your organization, the introduction of your initiative is a great place to start.
People can be resistant to change. For example, You could have an organization using AOL Instant Messenger for a collaboration tool despite the fact that it sunset years ago, and hasn’t been popular for almost two decades. If it still works internally at an organization that has many employees who’ve had their jobs since AIM’s glory days, then they might still be using it.
Introducing a new communication tool such as Slack would be a big shock to these people. Can you imagine jumping from AIM to Slack? It’s a completely different interface, and there are way more features. People might not like using it at first, and some might not even try.
You have to work with these people to get them to buy-in, rather than just giving them a new tool and expecting them to start using it regularly on their own.
Maybe there are specific tools they like more than others. Maybe there are goals they want to adjust. Whatever their requests and ideas are, hear them out and give it some serious thought, but help them buy-in to new ideas too.
In many cases, your communication strategy is all about your tools. But what is internal communication and what are tools you can use to improve it?
Tools that allow employees to work together easily and allow for collaboration are great internal communication tools. If people in your organization can’t work together easily because of the limitations of a tool you have in place, you should consider replacing that tool.
There are many cloud applications that can help with your internal communications efforts whether you’re a remote workforce or all under the same roof. Microsoft Teams and Slack are both great for messaging, while Zoom, Skype, and Cisco Webex, among others, help with face-to-face conversations and presentations via video chat.
You can collaborate in many ways with Microsoft Office 365 or G Suite by Google Cloud. And there are a host of apps to choose from for working with others in real-time on editing web pages, videos, working with customer contacts, and more.
In terms of helping employees get on the same page, and keep your messaging inline across your workforce, employee advocacy tools such as GaggleAMP are a great way to bolster your internal communications efforts.
Using internal communication channels, you can have discussions and share content in a walled garden that no one outside of your organization can see. However, if the Gaggle Manager (what we like to call our admins) likes the content an employee shares, they can pick up that post and suggest it to all employees or select groups to share externally to their social media platforms.
This is a great advantage in your internal communications strategy. You’ll be able to see what content employees think everyone in the organization should share. Over time, you’ll have a better idea of what types of content employees like, so you’ll be able to suggest posts they like to make them more active on social media. You’ll also have a much easier time curating content since they’ll suggest content for you.
What is internal communication? It’s listening to other employees, getting everyone on the same page, and collaborating on initiatives.
Your internal communications strategy is never complete.
You will get to a point where you’re happy with it, and you’ve accomplished what you wanted to accomplish, but you need to keep it going. Make sure it stays part of your hiring efforts across the organization. Make sure it’s still working well in each department and across the organization.
You want to check in on how these areas and more are working every so often. Eventually, you’ll see a shift in your culture, the attitude of your employees, and the productivity and profits from internal communication.
Ramin Edmond is the former Content Strategist for GaggleAMP. Outside of work, Ramin likes to run, hike, and take pictures of Boston's best views. You can get in touch with Ramin by connecting with him on LinkedIn.
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