The circulation of information, team motivation, and involvement, cohesion around unifying projects… These aims are all facilitated by effective internal communication in a business. But how can an internal communication strategy help mobilize employees? Discover how to establish an impactful strategy, using the right tools to boost employee loyalty, and find out the role it can play in leading your teams to success.
What is meant by effective internal communication?
Internal communication should encourage commitment, and therefore demands consistency. It needs an intelligible message that is in tune with the company’s values so that it creates a favorable climate for exchanges between the management and the workers. In addition, it needs to work both ways: workers’ views on the messages sent out by the management must be heeded. Internal communication must be a part of circulating messages, helping managers communicate effectively and create a stimulating atmosphere.
Internal communication covers all communication activities aimed at circulating information for employees. Values, strategic direction, but also targets, and results are all examples of data that needs to circulate in a business. Disseminating such information serves needs that go beyond the simple transmission of facts between workers: more than anything, its role is to help build cohesion and motivation across all personnel. A real driver of success for the company, it has to power to bring greater consistency and heighten the productivity of employees who are more engaged, more motivated, and united around common objectives. To work, it needs to be absolutely consistent with the values of the company and the messages it sends to the outside world: what it says must not be out of step with external communication, otherwise it risks causing mistrust.
The 3 types of internal communication
There are 3 types of communication used in business. They are specifically adapted to their target, and to the type of information to transmit:
- Top-down communication: meaning from managers to workers. Traditional and hierarchical, this is the type of communication most frequently used in the professional world. The subject matter generally conveys information or explanation;
- Bottom-up communication: from workers to managers. This type of communication is used to feedback to management about the needs, problems, and failings encountered by employees;
- Lateral communication: also known as “horizontal” communication, this is egalitarian in style, with no implied subordination or hierarchy. This is the type of communication most valued by employees because it encourages exchange and communication.
A strategy to suit the business
Whatever the size of a business and its human and financial resources, a proper internal communication strategy can only be a good thing for the wellbeing of all employees. The challenges are clearly different in the case of a business with multiple geographically dispersed offices but also depend on its history, its size, or the different departments of which it is composed. A specific department is generally responsible for creating and implementing an internal communication strategy, which can then be relayed by the managers passing it on among their employees. It is those same managers who feedback information from their teams so that senior management can assess the suitability of its actions. In smaller organizations, which often do not have dedicated departments, the model will of course need to be adopted, but with the same objective: the cohesion and motivation of all employees.
6 steps to establishing compelling communication
Internal communication has crucial strategic importance. A true lever for mobilization, loyalty, productivity, and pulling power, it allows people to be drawn together around common values and aims. Inappropriate and haphazard internal communication may be very badly received by employees, so it is vitally important to approach it in the same way as a true marketing strategy, deployed via different channels and serving a number of defined objectives.
Set a budget
You must establish a budget, just as you would for a marketing strategy. The introduction of an internal communication plan demands an assessment of actions taken in previous years, to understand which measures have been the most effective. Good questions to ask:
- What was the total budget?
- What was the expenditure?
- What actions were put in place? Are they worth continuing? If so, must they be increased?
- What benefits were reaped from them?
Naturally, some tools which are necessary for the introduction of the internal communication strategy should be prioritized according to the campaign budget. At this stage you need to involve your colleagues who are experts in communication, marketing, and/or human resources, to establish the methodology most suited to the needs of the business, capable of leading the teams to surpass themselves.
Characterizing your workers’ expectations
Any operation must be undertaken with a real strategic long-term aim: to vary media and update information for adaptable, stimulating, and lively communication. Questioning employees and gathering their expectations allows you to set up the most beneficial processes: what are their favorite formats? Their habits? The campaigns that work most successfully with them? If you remain consistent with the organization’s values, then workers engage more naturally. A significant disconnect between internal strategy and external communication can destabilize or even annoy, and undermine the credibility of the process.
Establishing an internal communication plan
A precise diagnosis enables you to identify lines of communication, an editorial schedule, and the rate of recurrence of each type of content and each distribution channel, to maximize the impact of the information you wish to pass on. Regularity is in fact an essential condition for engaging and making the most of your actions and maintaining a consistent campaign over the long term towards its target audience. Thinking ahead allows you to keep control of your communication and the topics covered but also steers you clear of any risk of falling out of tune with the company’s external communication. However, a communication plan may need to change or evolve for many reasons: you need to remain flexible and agile, in all situations.
Measuring the effectiveness of your communication
It is by constantly assessing the results of the actions you have put in place that you can measure their effectiveness. Measurement of those results is particularly based on canvassing the employees’ views. Questioning the project’s stakeholders by means of surveys and satisfaction questionnaires allows you to quantify the impact of your strategy, and adjust it if need be. The effectiveness of content can be assessed by relevant indicators such as email opening, forwarding, or engagement rates. Finally, employees’ involvement in the life of the company is an expression of their wellbeing: if they are inspired, they will want to participate in a common project, to discuss, contribute and cooperate. These human factors are an integral part of estimating the success of your campaign.
Determining your objectives
Internal communication is a fully-fledged management tool, maintaining the link between the management and employees, for effective collective dynamics. It can be used to hit numerous targets, which must be clearly determined and consistent with the company’s overall vision and brand image. It can be aimed at informing and passing on information, increasing loyalty, motivating and gathering people around values or a project, or communicating about your company’s results, plans, or strategic changes. Proper consideration is needed to present a stable, transparent, and reliable picture.
What are the goals of internal communication?
Internal communication is primarily intended to send messages and present the company’s values to its workers. It provides a response to the essential aim of transmitting information, a true and revealing indicator of the quality of a company’s operations.
Successful internal communication comes from the constant circulation of information between all the company’s stakeholders. The three types of communication in a business enable you to spot and defuse conflicts, but also to propose suitable solutions. In addition, trust can only be built if communication is free-flowing and information comes from the center. Whenever there is something new or a change, workers appreciate being informed about the company’s strategic direction at the opportune time.
An internal communication plan has the effect of integrating employees into the company’s collective project and capitalizes on their expertise. Aware of the role they have to play, it results in greater commitment to the project and greater involvement. This is the best indicator of a successful strategy, with a positive impact on company results and the overall atmosphere. Motivated teams with firm anchor points, enabling them to overcome the difficulties should a crisis arise.
Arousing a strong sense of belonging among your workers is a powerful lever for holding onto your talent, and thus leading them to success and fulfillment. By capitalizing on the company’s image, values, and shared objectives, you obtain a commitment from your employees. Corporate culture has major importance. An overwhelming majority of employees say they are minded to move to a different company if it has a better business culture than their own.
Having the workers’ values aligned with those of the company gives meaning to activities and involves all the actors in the ecosystem. Clear strategic objectives provide everyone with a clear vision of the role they have to play, resulting in an improvement to the service given. It is the frontline employees who embody the company’s image and pass it on to the outside world.
How to improve your internal communication?
For solid teams and a climate that favors outperformance, internal communication is an absolute must. For a strategy to be seen as successful, it requires steps to be taken to meet the following targets:
- communicate more effectively with all workers;
- foster cohesion;
- have a favorable impact on productivity.
Collecting employee feedback
As a common and unifying business project, the internal communication strategy needs to consider the views of all employees. Intra-enterprise collaboration encourages commitment to the brand image, strengthens team spirit, and allows good practices that are useful to everyone to emerge. It also brings standardization of the brand image, which in turn allows alignment of your vision and messages outside the business.
Gathering your workers together
The sharing of values is fundamental to the smooth running of the business; consistent and clear internal communication helps generate a commitment to the collective project. Managers need to set out their vision clearly and explain their strategic choices, whilst workers need to be convinced and asked for their views. An encouraging debate has shown itself to be the best strategy for mobilizing talent: lateral communication offers an opportunity to see innovative ideas emerging, but also improves the response to their needs.
Involving the hierarchy
Effective collaboration will only happen if all the members of a business are mobilized. Because involvement does not just mean the commitment of the employees! Managers embody the company’s wishes and set an example. Open to dialogue, they must listen so that they can keep links open with their team. Fluid bottom-up communication enables the manager to get information directly from their workers so that they can put suitable measures in place. When they set an example, managers will see their work being held in higher regard by their teams.
Choosing the best tools
Many spoken and written tools can be put to use in successful and effective internal communication. It is sensible to prioritize certain ones according to the type of communication:
- Top-down: newsletters, face-to-face or online meetings, notice boards, welcome kits, or intranet, to pass on information associated with the business, its news, its projects, and its activities. These tools help create or strengthen the link between employees and the business, and to pass on its values and its codes;
- Bottom-up: surveys, polls, individual interviews, discussion groups, to gather the views of the workers, and to establish a favorable climate for exchanges and the introduction of better processes;
- Lateral: informal meetings or workgroups, feedback meetings, launch procedures, exchanges on business social networks, to share in real-time. They facilitate the transmission of information of interest to the group, in a real collaborative space that is less formal than email.
Digital signage in business is an effective transmission channel for these three types of communication. Highly flexible, it allows you to be connected permanently. This innovative technology integrates all workers in the company so that they can communicate via screens placed in various strategic positions. From the latest trading figures to safety instructions, digital signage allows you to circulate relevant information in real-time and at the most opportune moment, managed centrally. Intuitive and performing well in terms of ROI, the Cenareo solution enhances the impact of communication, simplifying the management of your screen network, irrespective of size. More than a simple content management software application, it offers users a unique experience and meets the growing digitization needs of the business.
Following performance indicators
Measuring the effectiveness of your internal communication comes down to considering many indicators that show optimal operation. Employees’ turnover is one of those indicators of the health of a business. Free communication contributes to the well-being of employees, their commitment, and their loyalty. Involving and motivating your employees comes when their work is celebrated: it naturally encourages them to participate in achieving common objectives, of investing in them. This encourages a drop in staff turnover and a rise in productivity. This virtuous circle quite naturally leads to an increase in company turnover. Many studies have pointed out that engaged employees help boost annual turnover.
Do you want to transform your company’s internal communication using digital signage? Involve your workers by means of engaging and relevant content circulated via your screens instantaneously. Cenareo offers tailored support for effective and impactful communication which is beneficial to all workers.