Your company probably prioritizes effective communication. It’s only logical to place a high value on communications, since connecting with customers, partner firms, job seekers, and the media is crucial to business success.
But have you considered that there may be a big gap in your company’s communications strategy? Internal communications are just as critical to long-term success as external communications, but they’re often undervalued.
Maybe there hasn’t been time to invest this kind of planning. Or maybe the solutions your company has explored prior to now have been prohibitively expensive. Then again, perhaps developing a company-wide internal communications strategy simply got sent to the backburner and forgotten. Whatever your company’s reasons for ignoring internal communications needs, know that it’s never too late to implement a new strategy.
With that, the new year is a great time to revisit internal communications! You’re likely already setting goals and making plans for 2019. Maybe you’re making adjustments to employee benefits or company procedures. Implementing or updating an internal comms strategy should be a part of your company’s Q1 goals.
Why Internal Communication Matters
As overwhelming as it can be to implement an organization-wide communications plan - especially in larger companies with workers out in the field, and those with multiple offices - you’ll ultimately reap some big benefits.
First off, firms with strong internal communications tend to have more engaged, more productive, and happier employees. They also, unsurprisingly, have less employee turnover.
Maybe you’re more interested in your bottom line than in employee satisfaction, in which case you should still take the need for internal communications seriously. The Holmes Report found that companies with effective internal communication strategies offered their shareholders 47% higher returns. Among the 400 companies surveyed, $37 billion was lost because of employee misunderstandings or errors caused by poor communication.
Clearly, having a strong company-wide communications strategy in place can mean the difference between making money or losing money.
As noted above, the new year is a clean slate for your business in many ways. With that in mind, here are 8 ways you can create and implement an internal communications strategy that will make planning out the new year and sharing your plans with employees easier than ever before.
Step 1: Assess Your Current Internal Comms Strategy
If you have no internal communications plan in place… if you’ve never even thought about how to enhance your company’s internal communications… skip this step. But if you do have a strategy that you’re trying to follow (or ought to be following), then ask yourself the following questions:
Does the plan we’re using meet our current needs? If your company’s internal comms strategy was developed back when there were 50 employees and now there are 500, chances are that the answer is no. Ask yourself what is working and what isn’t.
Who is overseeing the implementation of the plan? Is anyone? Consider whether the person in charge now is the right person and think about who else could take ownership of this important facet of your company’s operations.
What are your objectives? Identify the problems - big and small - that you’d like your internal communications strategy to solve in 2019.
What would the perfect strategy look like? This is where you can invent a pie-in-the sky-plan that would only be possible to implement with unlimited resources. Remember, there are no bad ideas when you’re brainstorming.
What would a more realistic strategy look like? Take all those crazy ideas you wrote down and see which ones might actually solve some of those issues or help you meet your organization’s communications objectives.
What’s it going to take? This question is first and foremost about resources (both financial and human), but it’s also about adoption and oversight. Who are the key champions from across the business who can help you sponsor this initiative?
Step 2: Look for Tools that Empower Everyone
Large organizations used to spend top dollar building custom branded intranets on the company network that were supposed to reach everyone. The only problem? They didn’t always inspire collaboration. Communication was a one-way street. Higher ups could publish news, procedures, calendars, to-dos, and other formal content, but most employees wouldn’t have a compelling reason to start the day on the intranet homepage.
So does that mean you should abandon the idea of a company intranet? The quick answer is not exactly. Replace ‘intranet’ with ‘employee engagement app’ and you’ll have found what can become the backbone of your internal communications plan. What you should be looking for is an employee app that can reach employees in the field, doesn’t require stopping the flow of work to use, and can be integrated seamlessly with other apps so employees only have to log into a single portal to stay up to date and stay connected.
Whatever internal communications tool or tools you choose should also allow users to create personalized feeds that empower collaboration - not just within teams, but also across departments. Basically, you should commit to using only productivity tools that actually make workers more productive.
Step 3: Lead By Example
If you want your employees to use your employee app, you have to show them the way (and not just by sending around a dry how-to email). First, make sure all of the relevant information for the upcoming year - from your 2019 goals to your project roadmaps - can be found in it. When people ask questions about anything related to the coming year, direct them to the app.
Next, make sure you’re spending time on the app. If you’re not using it, your employees probably aren’t either! Monitor activity, and make sure you’re sharing, giving feedback, commenting, and answering questions. Your employees will quickly realize how responsive you are in that forum and they’ll be inspired to tap into the full potential of the app. Remember, employee engagement begins with communication!
Step 4: Commit to Foregoing Unnecessary Meetings and Emails
One of the best things about employee apps like Blink is that they can replace endless email update threads and face-to-face meetings that interrupt employee workflow. Do you really need to call everyone into a conference room to share next year’s priorities and schedules? Does HR really need to do a lunchtime presentation to explain minor changes to your benefits package? Should a project update mean 100 unread emails? Probably not. A large part of your 2019 internal communications strategy should involve efficient information dissemination.
Step 5: Commit to Keeping Everything in One Place
Your employees should never have to chase down the information they need, whether it’s your company’s PTO guidelines or cross-departmental data. Ideally, the most important information is easily accessible from anywhere. App switching is distracting (not to mention a waste of precious company time), so keep as many important documents in your portal as possible and integrate as many of the other apps employees use on a regular basis into it.
Have employees struggled to find certain documents, templates, and information in the past? A review of old communications challenges will help you determine what absolutely needs to be in your employee engagement app moving forward.
Step 6: Make Sure Everyone Gets the Message, Every Time
You’ll score big bonus points with your staff if they can personalize your internal comms app so they never miss important info. Right now, are you sure that your communications are reaching the intended recipients? With Blink, you can receive push notifications and can mark priority posts that require acknowledgment from certain (or all) team members. Now you can stop wondering whether employees received the 2019 budget updates, office holiday calendar, or project outlines. It’s amazing how a simple ‘message received’ can reduce frustration at all levels of an organization.
Step 7: Make 2019 the Year You Start Tracking
What are the key metrics that will tell you if your internal comms strategy is contributing to a less stressful and more lucrative 2019? The right strategy probably has a ton of moving parts and analyzing its impact on your organization may be complicated, but you can start by looking at these metrics:
- Are employees actually using your engagement app?
- Which integrated tools aren’t getting used?
- Are there messages that aren’t being read?
- Are communications coming from the top down only?
Blink doesn’t just track key metrics; it also provides stats for every post so you can easily measure the reach and the impact of your communication.
Step 8: Let Internal Communications Move in All Directions
If you believe in the value and the potential of each and every one of your employees, then you should welcome their input and opinions. As your internal communications strategy takes shape, make sure that you’re not so focused on top-down messaging that you disregard the value that vocal employees can bring to the table. The insights of workers in the field can be invaluable, as these are the people who often spend the most time with your products and with your customers.
Obviously, you don’t want your company priorities to get lost in endless chatter, but never discount the usefulness of staff feedback and democratic idea gathering. Make sure that peer-to-peer communication is actively encouraged in your organization next year. The best ideas can come from anywhere.
Small Companies Need Internal Comms Plans, Too
Your company may only have a handful of employees, but don’t assume that you can wing it where internal communications are involved. Effective communication is especially vital when you have a high percentage of employees working remotely. In that case, you literally can’t sit down in a conference room to hash out your upcoming calendar, priorities, budgets, and production schedules, so staying competitive will mean identifying your needs and then investing in the latest communications technologies that will meet them.
The bottom line is that the people at every level of your company will be more productive and more passionate about their work if they can clearly see what lies ahead. The internal communications plan you put in place now will not only make it easier for your employees to do their jobs, but will also go a long way toward making them feel like an important contributor to your organization’s overall mission.
Want to learn more? Start your new year off right with Blink’s mobile employee app that doubles as an employee intranet. Try it out for free today!