What are Internal Communications Best Practices?
Internal communication is what companies and organisations do to stay connected with their employees and is a way for departments to keep their teams up to date with their objectives and goals.
With more of us working remotely than ever before – a trend that is looking like it is here to stay in Australia (78% of Australian office workers believe remote working is the new normal) – internal communications within your team and the wider workplace have never been more important.
How many times have you deleted an internal company newsletter or email before reading it?
Answer: many times!
That’s important news and announcements either not being opened or not being read at all. And if you do happen to open the newsletter or email and read it, how much of it do you actually take in and digest?
In this blog, we will learn the top 10 internal communications best practices and tactics that will ensure your workplace and team stay connected and engaged.
What is Internal Communication?
Internal communication is what companies and organisations do to stay connected with their employees. It’s a way for departments to keep their teams up to date with the objectives and goals of the department and company.
Internal communication is in place to make sure employees are informed of company news, company announcements as well as to understand and communicate the organisation’s overall company objectives.
Types of Internal Communications Tools
Internal communications require tools to carry out their practices. These are tools organisations use so they can carry out their internal communication. These tools can include but not limited to;
- Marketing Automation Software
- Social Media and Social Media Management Tools
- Video and Video Conferencing Tools
- Forums and Chats
10 Internal Communications Best Practices
1. Create an Internal Communications Strategy
Before you go ahead and do anything, you need to make sure you have an internal communications strategy in place.
An internal communications strategy is very much similar to how you would build out a marketing communications strategy. You will need to outline your personas, identify the communications you will use to target them as well as the tools, put together a content calendar and also plan out the content.
In summary, your internal communications best practices for your strategy should include:
- Research and identification of personas
- The medium used to communicate e.g. newsletters
- The tool you will use to communication e.g. marketing automation
- A content calendar
- Content plan e.g. industry stories, company success stories
There are a number of key elements and questions that need to be raised when planning an internal content strategy.
- Who is the target audience?
- What are the goal and objectives of your internal communication? SMART objectives
- How will you measure success? I.e. number of opens, engagement rates, quizzes
- How will you be communicating and responding? E.g. via email, on social media, internal intranet
2. Use Effective Communication Tools
To ensure you are able to communicate effectively it is best practice for your internal communications strategy to have a tool that will work for you and your internal communications objectives. Different tools work effectively for different mediums and organisations.
Below we have highlighted the top 3 tools that are used for internal communications.
Marketing Automation – If you are looking to find out who has actually engaged with your communications, then marketing automation would be an ideal tool to use. You can use it to send newsletters and emails internally and monitor open rates within your organisation as well as monitor engagement rates.
Video – Video is a great way for organisations to get the message across quickly and in a more digestible way than reading. Video statistics can provide insight into viewing rates.
Intranet – Lots of larger companies use intranets to broadcast important messages and information. It is a central source that everybody has access to and can view at their leisure.
3. Provide Channels For Feedback and Debate (Polls etc)
It’s Internal communications best practice to create an open, interactive environment. Your internal communications should be a two way thing as opposed to just one way communication. To create an open environment your internal communication strategy should include ways in which employees can respond and engage with your comms.
For example, you could include a poll in your monthly newsletter where your employees can provide feedback on subject matters. This is also a great way to continue the conversation and understand what interests make your audience tick.
Ensure you don’t over monitor your feedback channels, and also allow for people to reply anonymously, you will receive more honest feedback and see better results.
4. Share Company and Employee Successes
A little bit of praise can go a long way. A monthly newsletter email is an ideal place to include updates on employee achievements and the perfect place to announce company and departmental successes.
If the internal communications of your company are slacking then working remotely can sometimes make people feel out of the loop or distant from their organisation, so acknowledging individual achievements and highlighting these is a great way to keep people engaged.
5. Be Visual
What we mean by this is, make sure your internal communications are visually appealing, whether this is your newsletter design or the video format you use for internal announcements, make sure they are looking good. 80% of people remember what they see, compared to 10% of what they hear and 20% of what they read.
With 90% of the information processed by the brain being visual, it would be a bad idea to not put the effort into how your internal communications look.
3 tips for visual internal communications best practices
- Use different themes or colours for each communication type.
- Use graphics and images to highlight messages, announcements and stories
- If you are using videos to communicate internally, make sure the videos use a range of graphics, real-life footage, stills and infographics.
6. Promote Employee Training Opportunities and Resources
Use your internal communications to promote and inform employees about what training opportunities are available. Keeping your employees up to date on training and resources can make sure they stay current, engaged, and knowledgeable.
The intranet is a good place to display the training and resource information, you could follow it up with an email explaining how to access these, along with a short explainer video or webinar. Continue to promote these sessions in your weekly or monthly newsletters and across your internal social media channels if you use them.
7. Create Personas
Just as you would do for your marketing strategy for your external customers, create personas for your internal organisation. Internal communications can be thought of as ‘marketing internally’.
Curate a survey asking your employees about themselves, what’s their interests and hobbies, what does their typical day look like? Try not to ask anything too personal or your response rate may end up very low. You may be surprised at how little you actually know your own colleagues.
From your answers, draw up some personas. Some of these might look a bit like:
- Marketing and/or creatives
- Full/Part-time workers
- Millennials/Gen X/Gen Z
8. Embrace Social Media in the Workplace
Many organisations are still opposed to accessing and using social media in the workplace so this may not be feasible.
With that being said, more people are continuing to work from home, and social media in the workplace is becoming more of a norm to continue the conversation, improve communication and facilitate collaboration. Social media isn’t necessarily a bad thing for organisations to embrace; it’s just about convincing your boss of its benefits for internal communications.
Use your social media platforms to encourage your team to share their wins, their stories and use hashtags that people can follow to keep up to date.
9. Encourage Action and Engagement
A sure fire way of knowing whether your teammates have read or watched your internal comms is by measuring their engagement.
How? Add things like polls into your monthly newsletters, or if you can organise a giveaway, then do so. You could incentivise participation. E.g. First 10 people to fill in the survey receive free tickets or a voucher.
10. Avoid Content Overload
If you are using email as your internal communication tool, internal communications best practices are to keep them brief, to the point, making sure your information is easy to read and digest.
Another tip to make sure people read your internal comms is to ensure you send the right information at the right time. Review your open rates to see what is the most popular time your emails are opened and A/B test your subject lines. Segmentation can also help you reach specific target audiences at the right time with the right content.
Internal Communications Trends For 2020
With the changes that have taken place in 2020, it is inevitable that we will be doing things a little differently when it comes to our internal communications.
We highlight our top 3 internal communication(s) trends that we will start to see in 2020.
1. More focus on employees wellbeing and the need to stay connected
This is an interesting one as the technology to enable this to happen has been around for quite some time now. Think Zoom, Skype and other video conferencing tools. Skype has been around since 2003.
However, we will start to see a shift in the ways organisations stay connected with their employees. As people see less and less of each other physically, we will see organisations use these tools to ensure they keep teams well connected.
With employees increasingly working remotely, we predict that we will see organisations using internal communications to encourage remote working best practices and to communicate stories that help monitor wellbeing.
What medium will they likely use? Email newsletters and video
2. More alignment between HR and Marketing for internal comms
Second prediction is that we may see more synergy and alignment between marketing and HR teams in the future.
Why? HR are going to be tasked with ensuring companies embracing remote work continue to stay connected with their employees. This may include arranging one on ones, lunch workshops, peer to peer monitoring etc.
We may see more HR teams adopting internal communications best practices which will include the use of traditional marketing channels and tools. i.e. marketing automation and social channels.
What medium will they likely use? Intranet, marketing automation and social media
3. Multi channel approach
Lastly, final prediction for internal communications best practices trends for 2020 is that we are going to see more multi channel platforms being used together to ensure the internal communications are being communicated effectively. We are likely to continue to see the use of marketing automation for segmentation and mass communication.
We are also going to see some work places looking to use mobile apps and SMS as a more direct communication tool. Traditional tools like the intranet will still be used, but to tie all these tools together we are likely to see more central workforce communications platforms being used to truly reach employees wherever they are on their preferred channel.
What medium will they likely use? This will likely see the introduction of workforce communication platforms.
How Your Internal Communications Can Benefit Your Organisation
Having an internal communications strategy and following internal communications best practices is the key to ensuring that your organisation and company culture can continue to thrive through trying times.
Creating an internal communication strategy and following the above best practices will reap an abundance of benefits. Some of these include:
- Keep employees in the loop with what’s going on at the organisation
- Keep colleagues connected during remote learning
- A platform to broadcast organisations messages
- Create encouraging environments in which people feel free to share their ideas without judgement
- Make employees feel valued
- Build out your organisation’s culture and shared values
- Keeps employees engaged with the organisation
- Great for creating a space for feedback and discussions
- Help to create a space away from the day job. A new world or dimension
- Help to create a space away from the day job. A new world or dimension
So, that’s our top 10 internal communications best practices. Do you need help with creation and automation of your internal communications? Here at Swift Digital, we can help you with your overall internal communications strategy by providing tips on email best practices to make your internal communication campaigns a success!
To find out how your business can get the best out of Swift Digital’s platform, contact our team today on 02 9929 7001.