If you work in internal communications, you’re pretty much the beating heart of your organization. Seriously. We’re not just flattering you.
You can tell if your company has a strong team. You can tell whether people know when, and where, they’re supposed to be working. And you can tell if everyone understands the organization’s goals.
Equally – you can tell when a company doesn’t prioritize internal communications.
Because everything’s, well, a bit chaotic.
Things might work, in a way, but productivity drains and inefficiencies run wild. All because your organization didn’t map out a solid internal communications strategy.
Yep. It’s only logical to place a high value on employee communications.
In this ultimate guide, we’ll talk about building a cohesive internal communication strategy (also known as an internal communication plan) that helps you unite and motivate your workforce. You’ll never need to look anywhere else, promise.
What’s an internal communication plan?
High employee engagement is the holy grail of running a profitable organization. There’s a ton of research that engaged workers are more productive than their disengaged counterparts.
For instance, did you know:
- Organizations with engaged workers perform 202% better than those without.
- 71% of business executives think employee engagement is a crucial factor for the success of a business.
- Engaged workers are 87% less likely to leave an organization.
Let’s face it: Without engaged employees, you can’t build innovative products, deliver exceptional support, or meet customer preferences.
But improving employee engagement is easier said than done. Many organizations are still using outdated communication strategies, tactics, and channels, such as employee newsletters and message boards. And it’s costing them time and money.
That’s where an internal communication plan comes in. This is a document that shows a) where you want to get to, and b), how you’re going to get there. A roadmap. A game plan. Done right, an internal communication strategy should clearly document your employee communication objectives and lay out a concrete path to achieving them.
Drafting an internal communications plan doesn’t just clarify your path to improve employee engagement and performance. It also contributes to the overall workplace culture. It puts you on the way to build a strong, closely-knit network of workers unified around common goals.
Why create an internal communication plan?
Internal communication isn’t the corporate activity it used to be. The days of one man, standing on a plateau, holding a mouth-speaker, and talking down to workers? Over.
Internal communication is now an organization-wide exchange of ideas that includes everyone — not just the C-Suite.
Compelling ideas can come from every corner of your organization, especially from the employees closest to the customers — frontline workers.
Nothing has the power to strengthen culture more than authentic, user-generated content. Stories move people. So every member of your workforce should be involved in your organization’s internal communication.
But this can make it harder to control the narrative. People with different job types and seniority levels may have different thought processes and agendas. So if you don’t know what you’re doing (and why), a democratic approach can have the opposite effect. This “what” and “why” are answered by an internal communication plan.
Would you start building a house without a blueprint? Or making a movie without a script? Absolutely not!
Yet many organizations take the same approach to their internal communications. They don’t establish clear goals, messages, timelines, or performance metrics.
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 in this kind of planning. Or maybe the solutions your company has explored so far have been prohibitively expensive.
Then again, perhaps developing a company-wide internal communications strategy simply got sent to the back burner and forgotten.
As overwhelming as it can be to implement an organization-wide communications plan, you need it to create a unified voice throughout the organization. Even more so in large companies with workers out in the field, and those with multiple offices.
With a concrete internal communication plan, you’ll ultimately reap some big benefits.
1. Change management
When Nokia and Kodak were leading the mobile phone and camera markets respectively, they saw a big change: the launch of smartphones with touchscreens and built-in cameras. But they failed to adapt and were left in the dust, making Apple and Samsung the new market leaders.
Tens of thousands of dollars have been poured into research for this one area of business: managing change in organizations. And for good reason. In the modern-day and age, things move fast. In many cases, the success, or even survival, of a company depends on how quickly it can adapt to change.
But change can’t be forced, especially if you have a large number of workers. And not managing change effectively can lead to even bigger problems. When employees are unable to cope with change, they become disengaged – and ultimately, quit.
An internal communication plan helps you determine the best way to communicate change. According to AGS, a respected change management publication:
Did a server just crash? Suddenly lose a big client? Last-minute curfew guidelines issued by a Covid-19-panicked government?
Problems are a part of running an organization. But as a business leader, it’s up to you how the solutions to those problems are implemented and communicated. Not having an internal communication plan would just make the issues bigger, and riskier.
When problems arise, an internal communication plan can help you determine the best way to share solutions in time, convey your stand, and keep everyone on the same page.
3. Customer satisfaction
In the current climate, customer service counts for a lot in the minds of customers. It’s not just a boring, back-office function.
The more informed your employees are, the better they can serve customers. So good internal communication is essential to your organization’s success.
4. Easy collaboration
Whether your company is small or large, your employees need to collaborate – and they need to collaborate well.
So 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.
4. Better internal messaging
To err is human. No doubt, the recent developments in instant messaging and social media sharing have empowered us to convey ideas fast, but our articulation hasn’t kept up with the pace.
Frequent typos, unintentional mishaps, and people being trolled – or even fired – for something uttered in the heat of the moment.
These days, organizations and business leaders are held to a higher standard than the regular folk. And an internal communication plan can help you think things through in advance, such as how to inform workers of a potential merger or acquisition. Depending on how you convey the message, it can be a cause for celebration or fear. So you’d want to tread with care.
Building and sticking to a concrete internal communication plan doesn’t just boost employee engagement, but also leads to a more productive and profitable organization. If your strategy is tailored specifically to your workforce, even better.
How to create an internal communication plan
There’s no ‘right’ way to develop an internal communications plan. But there are certain components and activities essential to a robust strategy. Below, we cover all the planning and must-knows you’ll need before writing an internal communication strategy.
All that’s left to do is write it.
1. Assess your current situation
Like any business project, the first step must be introspection. Otherwise, you’ll end up back at the drawing board sooner or later. Yes, it may be painful – but better to do this right the first time than to keep running in circles.
So: be brutally honest. Do you currently have an internal communications plan? (If it’s just all in your head, it doesn’t count.)
If you do have a real, live internal communication strategy, skip to answering the following questions.
- How effective has your strategy been so far? Does the plan you’re using meet our current needs? What are its strengths and weaknesses? 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.
- Is essential operational information getting through to every team in the business?
- How are your employee engagement levels looking, and how could your new internal communications strategy improve them?
- 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 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 – the most up-to-date internal communications app money can buy, an unlimited employee wellness budget, a company smartphone for every employee…you name it. 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?
If you can involve your employees in this assessment, even better! Conduct a quick survey to ask everyone what they think of your organization’s internal communication efforts. Most of the modern intranet has integration with survey platforms like Survey Monkey or Typeform.
Other research methods include:
- Internal audits.
- Group interviews.
- Gathering and analyzing data from a dedicated system like Microsoft Sharepoint.
Examine your current channels: Next on the list is a thorough audit of your current internal communications channels and who uses them.
You’ll need to compile a list of every. Single. Communication. Method. Including how frequently you use it and who’s in charge of running it.
If you’re a smaller company, this could be a relatively short list. For bigger organizations, this might include several methods:
|Channel||Used by||Who runs it||Frequency|
|Intranet||Office-based workers; remote salaried employees||IT/HR||No real schedule – as and when|
|Break room noticeboard||Frontline employees||Mostly line managers, though anyone can stick things up||No real schedule – as and when|
|Employee app||Everyone who has a smartphone||HR and management but everyone has the ability to communicate||Daily|
|Email newsletter||Unknown – most people who check their email regularly||Marketing/PR||Weekly|
|Notes with payslips||Anyone on a weekly wage||HR/Payroll||Weekly|
|Team stand-ups||Every team in the business||Team leaders||Theoretically weekly (though don’t always happen)|
|Department all-hands||Every department||Department heads||Monthly|
Let’s be honest, no one loves an audit. But take your time here – rushing will only cause oversights which could really scupper your strategy further down the line.
Examine your interaction points: as well as ‘general’ management-to-employees comms, you should also include points at which staff will have individual, one-on-one contact with someone representing the company.
Impressions of what your company culture is and how much your organization cares about its employees are often made or broken here, so it’s important to understand how well these work.
Your employee journey map is an obvious place to start here. This will obviously vary between organizations, but at the very least it should contain:
- New employee intros: the welcome you give new employees when they join. This usually includes a brief about the organization and its values, a ‘who’s who’ of senior figures, key information about fire safety, introductions to people they’ll be working with regularly, and maybe a free company hoodie if you’re being trendy about things.
- Performance reviews: you might do a traditional annual review with their line manager, or you might opt for a system that’s more modern and flexible. Either way, it’s important that your employees have regular, expected contact with their line manager to reflect, receive praise for good work, and flag any issues they’re having.
- Disciplinary action procedures: obviously you hope it never comes to this! However, in the event that things seem to be going south with a particular hire, it’s important to have an established procedure in place to get them back on the right track.
- Exit interview: they’re leaving, so you want insights into how they found their time here. This is an opportunity for you to identify issues that might be affecting other employees, but also to leave a final good impression with the departing member of staff – they might come back, or recommend your company to others, after all!
2. Set goals and KPIs
Consider your what and why. What do you want to get out of your internal communications? Why do you want to create an internal communications strategy at this point? Is it because:
- Your company has expanded, and can no longer rely on word of mouth or everyone seeing each other most days at work.
- You have one already, but people don’t adhere to it and this is causing operational issues (for example, employees accidentally missing shifts).
- Your customer service is suffering due to employees not being informed of key events, promotions, or campaigns.
- Your employees feel disengaged as they come to work and go home again, and don’t seem to know and/or care about your organization’s brand values and reason for existence
- You feel your senior management team needs more of a presence among your on-the-ground staff
These are just a few examples of why you might be reviewing your internal communications strategy. Notice how they’re not all to do with operational concerns?
That’s because your organization’s internal communications strategy should be as much about employee engagement as making sure that everyone has the right information to do their job well.
Potential customers and investors won’t love your company if your employees don’t – because happier employees are more productive, better ambassadors for your brand, and, crucially, deliver better customer service.
Whether you want to boost engagement, change certain behaviors, or increase morale, the goals you set should consider both long-term and short-term scenarios.
For example, you could start with quarterly milestones and work your way up to your goals for the whole year. Also, whatever objectives you set should align with the big-picture organizational goals. For example, the smaller goal of minimizing the usage of office printers speaker to the larger goal of cutting operational costs.
Finally, set some KPIs to track – otherwise, how can you tell your efforts are working? The final piece of your internal communication plan is to select the right metrics and KPIs.
60% of professionals aren’t measuring their internal communication results. And as the old adage goes, “what can’t be measured, can’t be improved.”
Only by monitoring and analyzing the tactics and channels you have in place can you put an effective strategy in motion. The metrics you should track on a regular basis could include:
- Reduction in unplanned absences
- Increase in reported engagement with company goals and values over next few pulse surveys
- Base percentage of workforce engaging with new channels six months post-implementation
- Improvement in employee satisfaction
- Post engagement, shares, and impressions
- Attention rates
- Email open rates and click-through rates
You’ll have your own ideas too – just add them to this list! And one more thing: don’t forget to take baseline measures of the status quo before making any changes so you can decide if your switch was effective or not.
3. Zero in on your target audience
Understanding your employees is undoubtedly the most critical part of our groundwork before building an internal communication plan. You don’t want to fall into the one-message-fits-all trap. Segment your audience based on:
- Job role
- Seniority level
- Communication needs
- Whether they are desk-based or frontline workers
This will help you understand the unique requirements of each segment. Then you can analyze your previous engagement data to see what type or format of content works best for them, such as video, email, live chat, etc. It will help you formulate a multichannel approach for maximum reach and engagement.
4. Plan the types of internal communication
For each of your audience segments, define the most important types of internal communication you need, and the messages you want to convey or allow in your chosen timeframe.
For example, if one of your chosen segments consists of new joiners, your messages will relate to onboarding. But the same messages will not make sense for senior workers. So they shouldn’t be sent to everyone. Consider the most common internal communications types and examples:
Management to employee communication: For example, weekly work schedules, daily announcements, policy changes, employee satisfaction polls, performance reviews, CEO announcements, new product launches, and new performance incentives.
Employee up communication: For example, internal reports, performance reviews, and employee award nominations.
Peer-to-peer communication: For example, onboarding and training documents, social events, internal vacancies, and new starter documentation.
5. Pick your communication channels
Another crucial part of this framework is the selection of tools and channels. Once you’ve got a good oversight of exactly what channels your company uses for internal communication, it’s time to drill down into your results.
These should empower your workers rather than get in their way. Take an inventory of all the channels already being used in our organization, and the new channels you want to begin with.
It’s useful, before you start, to decide which of your internal communications needs will be met by in-person meetings and which will be met electronically.
Your plan of attack here should have these elements:
- Consider whether the communications channel is useful in a general sense (and who better to ask than your own employees?)
- Consider whether the communications channel is useful for the goals you laid out in step one.
- Assess whether the communications channel could be improved in any way.
- Check if it’s time to upgrade our internal communications technology to reflect the times we live in.
- See whether you could possibly replace a channel with another channel you have.
Each channel – whether it’s an enterprise collaboration software, a notice board, a town hall meeting, a video, or a webinar – has the potential to reach and engage a different segment of your audience.
So based on the audience segments that you prepared during the preliminary analysis, see if your chosen channels and tactics make sense.
For example, if you are targeting frontline workers, a notice board may not be the best way to communicate as the workers are mostly in the field. The noticeboard in the employees’ break room might be useful if checked religiously for shift and traffic info, but is updated erratically at best when it comes to general company announcements and it is easy to miss changes.
Are your drivers generally aware of the announcements on the board or are they missing updates and revised shift schedules?
Once you’re clear on this, it’s time to decide whether it’s worth keeping as part of your new strategy. Three options here:
- Keep it
- Improve it
- Replace it
As a general rule, you’ll be wanting to reduce the number of communications channels rather than increasing them, as well as looking for the most effective options.
- 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. Instead of choosing too many communication platforms, it’s better to have a few well-moderated and active communities.
A large part of your internal communications strategy should involve efficient information dissemination. Wouldn’t it be more effective to move most of this onto one single platform?
Traditionally, this platform used to be an intranet. 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.
A McKinsey study found that social tools in the workplace help employees communicate more freely, with 80% interacting with co-workers, and 63% saying it helps them organize better.
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.
The internal communications app – or any other 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.
For example, 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. Blink can culminate all the different channels in one place to make life much easier for you and your audience.
6. Create an internal communications calendar
You’ve done the hard work…now it’s time to zero in on your communication frequency and cadence. Plan for how the messages will be shared and when with a calendar.
Making investments here can make things so much more efficient in the long run, and save your HR team a lot of hassle with the day-to-day maintenance of your internal communications.
Apart from giving you a concrete roadmap, a calendar also helps you anticipate the practical side of each event. If you want a monthly in-person all-hands led by the CEO, for example, you’ll have to make sure you’ve got a room you can book out regularly which will fit everyone in, and book time in their diaries well in advance.
Building your internal communications calendar can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry – with a bit of planning and a practical, realistic approach, it doesn’t have to be.
The key to creating a successful internal communications calendar is to approach it methodically. If you rush and put everything on without proper forethought, you could end up with a calendar that isn’t possible to maintain in the long term.
Here’s an internal communication plan example so you can get an idea of what to aim for:
|Monday||06:00: weekly email newsletter 06:00: update app 07:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers, catering) 09:00: weekly stand up (marketing, IT, finance) 13:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers, catering afternoon shift)|
|Tuesday||06:00: update app 07:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers, catering) 09:00: new starter company induction 10:00: weekly stand up (sales, HR, ops) 13:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers, catering afternoon shift) 14:00: all-hands (pre-book conference room)|
|Wednesday||06:00: update app 07:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers, catering) 11:30: send out pulse survey (first Wed of each month) 13:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers, catering afternoon shift) 14:00: all-hands (pre-book conference room)|
|Thursday||06:00 update app 07:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers, catering) 11:00: weekly CCPA training (sales, 6 weeks commencing 25/11) 13:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers, catering afternoon shift)|
|Friday||06:00: update app 07:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers, catering) 11:30: Friday Q&A with C-suite member (pre-book small meeting room) 13:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers, catering afternoon shift)|
|Saturday||06:00: update app 07:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers) 13:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers afternoon shift)|
|Sunday||06:00: update app 07:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers) 13:00: daily briefing (factory, drivers afternoon shift)|
Of course, this is a very basic internal communication strategy template for illustration. If you’d like, you could keep your content calendar in an Excel sheet with each day of the week as columns and the different channels as rows or you could even break it down hour by hour.
Alternatively, you could create a shared Google Calendar with all comms visible ahead of time for department heads.
As you build your internal communication plan template, the following tips will come in handy:
Start with the ‘bread and butter’: These are the regular methods of internal communication that are essential for your organization to function safely and effectively. Pencil in these regular catch-up meetings first and work everything around them. Your strategic department all-hands can wait. Your daily factory floor safety catch-up absolutely can’t.
One thing that’s essential to keep in mind here is that there’s no point making things difficult for yourself.
Some departments will have their own preferences for their regular catch-up meetings – get in touch with department heads to understand what this might be. As long as these don’t contradict what you discovered in the ‘analysis’ phase, try to accommodate them as much as you can.
It might be that, for whatever reason, IT wants their weekly stand-up on a Tuesday but you’ve scheduled ‘team stand-ups’ as a Monday morning thing. If it works, let it slide – doing otherwise will only breed resentment, and ultimately you have better things to be getting on with than passive-aggressive email exchanges with upset department heads.
Assign ‘slots’ for regular meetings: You might have types of in-person meetings that happen regularly, but not always for the same people.
An example of this is a department all-hands. It might help, organization-wise, if you scheduled an all-hands in the same place at the same time each week, but alternated the department each time. Other examples include:
- Open Q&As with C-suite members
- New starter induction sessions (it’s good to have a couple of group sessions a week so that new hires get to know new starters from other departments and get a sense of the organization in its entirety)
- Regular training sessions for new software/regulatory changes etc.
Add in regular electronic communications: Once you’ve got the backbone of your in-person communications schedule, you can add in your electronic communications.
It’s worth putting some thought into the best times to schedule these. If you send out a weekly email newsletter, for example, consider when most of your employees can access their computers to check their emails. For non-office staff, this might be on their lunch breaks or when they are at home.
Ditto if you’re using a social media style employee app for internal comms – if you know that most of your employees check for updates before they come into work, schedule them to go out at 05:00 so that they’re there, waiting for your employees to wake up.
Most modern tech offers scheduling tools that allow you to queue emails and other forms of electronic communication in advance – so there’s no need for someone to be awake to press the button at some unholy hour in the morning!
Here’s a quick checklist of all the channels you should think about at this stage:
- Regular intranet updates
- Email newsletters
- Employee apps
- Pulse surveys
Consider where to put ‘one off’ announcements: You’ve now got a working model for your weekly internal communications calendar – congratulations!
It’s important to visualize your internal communications strategy weekly, because employee engagement is boosted by a ‘little and often’ approach. But there’s more to internal communications than a weekly calendar.
You’ll need to adapt your strategy to fit around big, one-off announcements, like:
- New product launches, campaigns, or sponsorship deals
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Changes in senior management
- Social announcements (Christmas party dates and venues, large charity drives)
Whether they’re good news (acquisitions, expansions, unveiling the Christmas party venue) or negative (redundancies, being bought out), you’ll need to let as many people know at the same time as possible.
Having all your electronic communications marked on your calendar makes it easier to understand where these should fit. If you want to announce to the company, in person, that the CEO is retiring, it’s useful to be able to place this just before, or just after, employees would be checking their apps or emails for a regular update.
(Obviously, in the case of special announcements, you can and should plan separate comms around them – but it always helps to reinforce messages using your regularly scheduled updates too.)
Get company-wide feedback: An internal communications team shouldn’t be producing and delivering messages in a vacuum. If you want your internal communications strategy to work, you’ll need to get every department in the organization involved.
The communications team will probably be more involved at a strategic level than others, but everyone has their part to play – team leaders need to know when they can expect key information, and when and how they can pass it on.
Ask department heads to confirm that your calendar works for them. Try to be reasonable in making accommodations to requests to tweak it. It’ll generate a huge amount of goodwill that will be invaluable in getting everyone to buy into your strategy.
Facilitate two-way communication: Your calendar should lay the groundwork for two-way communication. It’s not just another way to send information top-down from upper management to all the employees. That’s not how you’ll engage today’s employees.
You’ll engage employees when they can contribute and participate. They should be able to respond, express their concerns, and share their stories without fear of censorship.
7. Make arrangements for mandatory communication
Right now, are you sure that your communications are reaching the intended recipients? You don’t want your employees to miss important updates. And neither do they.
If you often find yourself wondering whether employees received the annual budget updates, office holiday calendar, or project outlines, a simple ‘message received’ can reduce frustration at all levels of an organization.
You’ll score big bonus points with your staff if they can personalize your internal communications app so they never miss important info. With Blink, for example, you can receive push notifications and can mark priority posts that require acknowledgment from certain (or all) team members.
8. Lead by example
If you want your employees to adhere to the communication channels, tools, and schedule laid out in your calendar, you have to show them the way (and not just by sending around a dry how-to email).
For example, to increase the adoption of a mobile communication app, you can make sure all of the relevant information for the upcoming year to your project road maps – can be found in it. When people ask questions about anything related to the coming year, direct them to your new internal communications 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.
9. Make it easy to follow
The easier you make for people to stick to your strategy and access internal communication, the better adoption you’ll see.
For example, if you want your calendar to be widely shared and adopted, people should be able to follow it:
- Don’t make it over-complex.
- Keep the formatting and design super-simple.
- Color-code communication types.
- Make sure that there’s plenty of white space.
- Blow up text size if necessary.
If you have the luxury of having a designer on hand, ask them nicely to knock you up something that’s well laid-out and easy to follow. Or there’s always Excel or a handy Calendar tool with shared calendar options.
Similarly, your employees should never have to chase down the information they need, whether it’s your company’s PTO guidelines or cross-departmental data.
49% of US workers face difficulty in finding documents, as per a Nintex survey. Have your employees struggled to find certain documents, templates, and information in the past?
Ideally, the most important information should be easily accessible from anywhere. App switching is distracting (not to mention a waste of precious company time), so keep as many important documents in a single portal as possible and integrate as many of the other apps employees use on a regular basis into it.
10. Monitor adoption and make adjustments
The final stage in building an internal communications strategy is just… to let it run for a bit, and see whether it works. Crazy, right?
Give your strategy some time to penetrate the organization. It’s not going to run 100% smoothly the week after you launch it. Let things settle down and wait for your calendar to become part of everyone’s routine.
Scheduling an initial review three months after the launch date, with a more extensive one six months down the line is a fair framework to work with – though you might want to adjust this to suit your own timescales.
Introduce KPIs: Above, we discussed how it was important to identify a few KPIs to track to measure how well your internal communications strategy is working. These should be your first port of call when reviewing how well your strategy is working.
What are the key metrics that will tell you if your internal comms strategy is contributing to a less stressful and more lucrative outcome? 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 internal communications app?
- Which integrated tools aren’t getting used?
- Are there messages that aren’t being read?
- Are communications coming from the top down only?
You can view these metrics in the reporting capabilities provided by the communication tools you use. For example, if you’re using modern email software to send messages in bulk, it probably comes with analytical reporting built-in.
Soliciting feedback: 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.
Adjusting your strategy: Armed with these metrics, you can test how your tactics and channels are working and make necessary changes to your internal communication plan. Plus, you’ll also have a solid foundation to experiment with new channels and campaigns. And the data you get will also help you create progress reports.
You might not be hitting all your targets in your first review. This isn’t necessarily any cause for alarm. It might simply be that your targets were too ambitious, or that with a little tweaking, you can get yourself back on track.
Would more training with your internal communication technology (for example a new mobile app) help? Are line managers clear on the responsibilities they need to take on under your new scheme? Analyze, make some changes and track what difference they make.
Say, in the first three months you achieved 30% of the target you were aiming for, so put your department heads through extra internal communications training and send out important email updates at a better time of day.
If in the next three months you hit your target by 65%, it’s a good indication that something’s working and you’re gradually overcoming the initial issues you encountered.
There’s a myth that KPIs are absolute and must never change. Nothing could be further from the truth – you should adjust your KPIs with the changes you make along the way.
Internal Communication Strategy FAQs
What is an internal communication strategy?
Done right, an internal communication strategy should clearly document your employee communication objectives and lay out a concrete path to achieving them.
What should be included in an internal communications strategy?
Your internal communications strategy should include the following, the internal communication channels you will use, a calendar, goals & KPIs and clear audiences you will be speaking to.
Why is an internal communication strategy is important?
An internal communication plan is important because, by its very essence, it will be the lifeblood of communication throughout your business. Providing an effective flow of information between departments & colleagues up and down the management chain. This can help foster employee engagement, retention and enpowerment.
Modern workers are no longer desk-bound – and 39% of them believe there isn’t enough collaboration in their organizations.
You need an internal communication plan to guide you through this new reality, to implement tactics suitable to the goals of your business, and to adopt the right communication technologies.
An ideal internal communication strategy considers both the communication and organizational objectives, demonstrates a solid understanding of your intended audience, and leverages the right technology to reach your workforce.
Of course, an internal communication plan is not the only thing you’ll need, but you won’t be successful without one. What 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.
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.
By following these best practices as you formulate an internal communication plan, you’ll give your company the best chance of sustainable success for years to come. Blink is an internal communications tool that does everything your intranet does, but better. Try it out today! Request a free demo to get started.