Internal Communications Strategy: Definition, Importance and Best Practices 

Learn all about internal communication strategy’s importance and best practices to apply in your workplace communication.

October 31, 2020 By Sara Ana Cemazar Share on Twitter! Share on Facebook! Share on LinkedIn!

internal communications strategy

Internal communications strategy is an essential document that every internal communications specialist should use. This document outlines the ways in which you communicate with your employees and defines the key metrics to track your communication effectiveness. 

However, not all companies have an internal communications strategy in place. This is especially true for companies with smaller internal communications teams. Still, having this strategical plan ensures that internal communications and HR specialists coordinate their efforts to achieve specific goals. 

➡️ Before we start, repeat the basics: learn why effective employee communication is essential for business success

internal communications importance

Why Having an Internal Communications Strategy Is Important 

In short, internal communications strategy is a plan that outlines main aspects of your employee communication in order to achieve certain business-related goals. It aligns your choice of communication channels and key metrics with a specific goal in mind. It also tends to improve the quality of overall communication in the company, which greatly assists in optimizing the employee experience. 

Moreover, internal communications strategy serves as a key document for every new employee communications and HR team member because it helps them define their tasks and responsibilities.  

Here are some advantages of having an internal communications strategy. 

Quick response to crisis 

Although you should first look to your crisis communication plan when crises occur, your internal communications strategy provides initial answers on how to respond in critical situation. It should have defined voice and tone policies that ensure you are consistent across your communication channels in all situations. 

Increased employee productivity 

Employee motivation and productivity are closely related to employee communication. McKinsey found that when employees are connected, their productivity rises by 25%. As you will find out, a well-designed internal communications strategy can shorten your employees’ time to find information and therefore increase productivity. 

internal communications strategy

Ensure high policy compliance 

By following your internal communications strategy guidelines, you will try to engage your employees and ensure they read the content you send their way. That way, your employees will be aware of new company policies and more of them will comply to them. 

➡️ A good example is proper workplace communication about new work safety measures that were introduced in the initial phases of COVID-19 pandemic. 

Reduce employee stress 

According to research, 80% of employees are stressed out by ineffective communication at work. This is often caused by sending either too much or too little information your employees’ way. Namely, 34% of employees say their internal communications are not working because important information gets buried by too much other information. 

internal communications strategy

Encourage employee innovation 

Employee innovation needs to be encouraged and cultivated. However, that is easier said than done. Still, by ensuring proper flow of information – which is one of the main goals you will set for your internal communications strategy – you will try to allow for bottom-up communication that is crucial for innovation to happen.  

internal communications

How to Build a Successful Internal Communications Strategy 

If you already have an internal communications strategy in place, review it and try to identify gaps in it. However, if you still don’t have one, just follow these simple rules. These questions will help you think of the best practices to include in your internal communications strategy and optimize the employee experience throughout your employees’ journey. 

  • Why: what are your intentions? Why do you want to implement an internal communications strategy in the first place? 
  • What: what should be communicated, and what should be left out of internal communications? 
  • When: in what volume and at what times should different information be sent out? 
  • Where: what will be your main internal communications channels? Why? 
  • Who: who should be recipients of your different communication materials? 

Now let’s introduce specific steps you should follow when developing your internal communications strategy. 

1. Define your goals 

As mentioned before – start with the why. What results do you want to see due to improved employee communication brought on by carefully designed internal communications strategy? These goals could range from increasing brand awareness to improving employee relations. 

What matters is to create goals according to SMART framework, meaning specific, measurable, achievable, relatable and time-based. This brings us to the next point – measuring the performance of the goals you set in your internal communications strategy! 

smart goals

2. Identify key metrics to track 

The metrics you choose to track will also have a lot to do with communication channels you decide to use. Here are some usual KPIs that can help you determine the impact of your internal communications strategy: 

  • Open and click rate for email communications 
  • Time spent on communications 
  • Page views or video views – depending on the content you send 
  • Employee survey response rates 
  • Repeated employee survey results determining employee engagement, employee collaboration and more.

3. Determine your main communication channels

This is where you should really listen to what your own data shows you. You can experiment with more communication channels at first and then stick to what works best and eliminate the noise from ineffective channels. For example, even though email response rates are lower than ever and younger employees prefer leaner employee communication apps – 34% of Gen Xers still prefer email to chat at work. 

internal communications strategy

4. Share responsibilities 

Your internal communications strategy should outline not only internal communications and HR team members’ responsibilities but should also entail directions on communication that comes from other departments or different hierarchical levels.  

In other words, give guidelines to managers on when and how to communicate with their teams. Continuous communication should be essential to their role, no matter their management style.  

5. Segment your audience 

You want to avoid your employees feeling overwhelmed by information they receive yet informed. How do you do that? 

One of the main steps in your internal communications strategy is defining guidelines for audience segmentation in different cases. That means that you must decide which information should be received by whom – depending on various employee data you already have. 

For example, managers and their subordinates are not always interested in the same information, nor are employees from different countries or regions. Therefore, make sure to segment recipients by:  

  • Job roles 
  • Hierarchy 
  • Geographic locations 
  • Languages spoken 
  • Departments.

6. Manage your approval process and standardize communication efforts 

Who is responsible for creating, editing and dispersing which content? Sometimes it is complicated to decide on these matters. However, having an internal communications strategy ensures that everybody involved in internal communications is aligned and knows what their role in the creation, approval and dispersion of content is. 

Furthermore, try to create shared libraries and templates that can help you ensure consistent use of brand guidelines in your content materials. 

7. Track and optimize your content 

According to the key metrics you have defined, you should track your performance and adjust it according to best practices for certain communication channels. Although this seems like a final task on the list of implementing an internal communications strategy, the whole process is circular. Having the best strategy in place takes continuous optimization, modification of goals, rules and other. 

➡️ This whole process might seem overwhelming: however, here is why employee communication software like Nurture comes in hand. It allows you to segment your audience, manage your approval processes and track your internal communications performance through key metrics.  

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Keep your workplace informed with Nurture.

Best Practices for Internal Communications 

Internal communications are changing just as the world of communication rapidly changes. These days, it seems like there is a new way of online communication every day. Furthermore, the relationship towards authority is changing worldwide – leaders are realizing they need to be open to constructive feedback. 

All these worldwide trends should be reflected in your internal communications strategy. Here are some of the best internal communications practices. 

Regularly ask for feedback 

Business leaders are realizing that they need to hear from employees to ensure their productivity and growthTwo-way communication ensures high employee engagement and facilitates employee learning, so try to conduct employee surveys regularly. 

Tailor your internal communications according to your employees 

Although there are numerous trends in employee communications, your main guiding principle should be your own employees. Allow for experimentation with content and channels, especially in the initial phases of implementing a new internal communications strategy. 

Go mobile 

Did you know that only 9% of companies use mobile phones and apps as a communication channel? Considering how embedded mobile technology is in our everyday lives, there is so much room for improvement. Going mobile will be especially appreciated by your Millennial and Gen Z employees who prefer online communication to phone calls and live communication. 

internal communications

Include leadership in your communication 

Leaders that are involved in their company’s communication are more trustworthy according to employees. Your employees need to know they are being led by engaged, knowledgeable leaders. For example, a good way to include your leaders in the internal communications strategy is to propose a weekly or monthly occurrence on company’s social media via video. 

Send timely content 

There is a whole science behind finding the best time to send content your employees’ way. Just like in marketing, you will increase the chances of employees reading your content by optimizing your timing. That is why a little research into your employees’ habits of reading internal communication content goes a long way. Naturally, a good scheduling software will make this easy. 

At the end, it is important to remember to experiment and adjust according to your own data. Since internal communications are circular, you always need to question your practices and look at the content you provide from your employees’ perspective.