Over the last decade, technology has exponentially grown and revolutionized people’s lives. In many ways, these technological developments have influenced how people communicate with each other. Today is an era of fast communication — answers are simple and quick but meaningful.
The advancement of communication channels also permeated the workplace. With systems in place to support it, employees are now able to connect in different ways and work with more mobile options. Internal communication has become more important now than ever — employees want their voices heard. They want to be able to speak to their tasks and insights whether they’re in the same physical space or not.
Besides technology, the demographics in many workplaces are beginning to change. The oldest millennial is now 38 years old, and Generation Z has begun entering the workforce. Both these generations place importance on collaboration, transparency, and inclusivity; they value text communication over any other modes. And by 2020, they will have comprised nearly half of the total working population.
What Is Internal Communication?
Internal communication is the circulation of information between employees within an organization. This communication can flow downwards (from top management to subordinates), upwards (subordinates to top management), and horizontal (employees of the same level in the organization).
The Need for an Internal Communication Strategy
An internal communication (IC) strategy lays the groundwork for communication within the company to achieve short-term and long-term goals. This strategy should be a holistic approach across all touchpoints in an employee’s stay in the organization — onboarding, daily communication, meetings, among others. An internal communication strategy should ensure the company follows a process to send a coherent message to all its employees no matter the channel.
Poor internal communication comes at a cost. When employees don’t feel included, they can feel disengaged which can to low morale. This is where workplace gossip can often arise as people tend to draw conclusions in the face of ambiguity and anxiety.
A lack of IC strategy greatly affects productivity and can influence employee turnover rates later on. According to a 2012 study by the Center for American Progress:
- For all positions except executives and physicians, the typical (median) cost of turnover was 21% of an employee’s annual salary;
- For employees earning less than $50,000 annually, the cost of turnover was 20% of their annual salary
What’s Holding Companies Back?
According to Gallagher’s State of the Sector on Internal Communication, 60% of companies still don’t have a long-term internal communication strategy. Some companies still don’t see the importance of having one in place, while others feel like it’s only the human resources (HR) department’s job to strategize internal communications.
Other businesses choose to hold onto outdated communication methods that don’t suit all types of communication. The best example is using the email thread for communications that need quick answers. In a sea of many emails, people will have to traverse very long threads to find a simple answer. A communication tool, on the other hand, could allow for instant messaging that saves employees the time and effort they would have spent going through their emails. A strategy along with supporting tools increases efficiencies without losing hours of work to inefficacious communication methods.
The 6 Ways an Internal Communication Strategy Can Help a Business
(1) It keeps employees involved, valued, and empowered.
Having an IC strategy makes the values, mission, and vision clear to everyone in an organization. The goal has always been to ensure that employees get a sense of the company’s big picture — allowing them to visualize how their roles align with the direction and purpose of the organization.
More excitingly, the different departments of an organization can come up with a pool of insights. They can share their news, promote events, or acknowledge a team member’s effort. Through this, top and middle management can gain valuable input from parts of the company they don’t directly manage.
The ideal IC strategy would also have policies for issue management — potentially decreasing the attached discomfort when raising concerns. These policies keep the employees secure and help them immediately address any ambiguities that arise.
(2) Having an internal communication tool/platform that provides metrics to gain insight and improve employee experiences.
Every internal communications strategy requires a communications tool or platform. This includes collaboration tools, instant messaging platforms, communication apps, and intranets.
Besides being used for workplace instant messaging, a good communications platform should provide management with a granular view of an organization’s data. This directly links to how an IC strategy evolves depending on how employees digest the information presented to them. Management may find that News A has lower engagement metrics than News B. They can then shift how the data is visualized by employees based on this finding and track its performance again.
The LiveTiles intranet gives managers the ability to see employees’ departments, geolocations, device types and page interactions so they know where to target improvements. Should the greater percentage of employees be on the younger side, management may opt for a more interactive or visual presentation of data (as opposed to long chunks of text).
PHOTO: LiveTiles Analytics
(3) It helps the company culture thrive and creates a great work environment.
An internal communication strategy can promote a culture of open communication and healthy feedback-giving. To build a culture that supports overall employee growth that encompasses their physical, emotional and financial wellbeing, meaningful communications need to occur in the workplace.
(4) It allows for faster response time — especially in times of crisis.
In the event of a contentious issue or a big company crisis, management should be on top of managing the flow of information to the employees. In the same way, employees should be able to ask about these issues openly. Hearing it within the walls of the company will lessen the likelihood of workplace gossip, and employees will be more than willing to involve themselves to help solve the issues that have arisen.
(5) It supports the rise of the mobile workforce.
From today going forward, employees expect to be offered more flexible working options with the technology being around to support it. Globally in 2022, the mobile workforce is set to increase to 1.87 billion people (42.5% of the global workforce) – which is up from 1.7B in 2016.
A strategy ensures that any mobile employees won’t feel disconnected from anyone present in the physical office. It keeps them up to date with the information that they need to work collaboratively on projects.
(6) It improves retention rates and reduces high turnover issues.
Engaged employees are likely to be happier in the workplace. From the moment they’ve started their role in the company, they should have been introduced to the company’s business philosophy and communication style. This includes knowing which communication channels are used for certain purposes — as well as being an open invitation for feedback and/or insight whenever necessary.
According to the Harvard Business Review, companies with high turnover problems who took steps to address low employee engagement saw a 25% drop in employee turnover.
There is no doubt that an internal communication strategy is vital to creating a more engaged workplace. This makes it more about the people in the organization — seeing value in what they do and how they play a crucial role in the company’s success.
When executed properly, internal communication bridges together a multi-generational and mobile workforce. Learning styles and work ethic will always vary per person — internal communication is the thread that binds them together. It paves the way for what matters: a shared understanding of the company’s vision that inspires contribution in achieving a common goal.
Want to take a holistic communication approach? Request a LiveTiles demo today.