Category All, Best Practices, Company The Role of Internal Communications in the Company Workplaces thrive in a collaborative climate – where everyone knows what they’re supposed to do, and follow through accordingly in a timely manner. Everyone involved needs to be on the same page for businesses to run smoothly. It’s up to the companies’ internal communications setup to ensure that the workforce is regularly updated and aligned, so employees can better serve the bottom line. July 14, 2022 By Ravijojla Novakovic The way we communicate has changed rapidly in the last three decades. Some would say that the Pandemic speeded up change so quickly that we’ve seen ten years of advancement happen in the course of only two. We experienced a shift towards working in hybrid and remote models. Now we have businesses with functional inter-continental teams spread all over the globe, who communicate and work online via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Discord, Slack, and other tools. Even office-bound workers use various communication tools on a daily basis. Internal communications is, in a way, a guideline for collaboration or signposts providing people with crucial information at a given moment. It allows everyone to be on the same page and work together on common goals. This post will provide insight into internal communications, its benefits, and how to make the most of internal communication to serve the companies’ goals and bottom line. What is Internal Communications? Internal communications is a set of communication processes supported by communication tools and software for organizations’ internal use. It consolidates communication efforts across the company and keeps workplaces aligned, connected, and in the loop regarding company initiatives, goals, and various updates. Internal communications is a mission-critical function that must reach everyone fast, effectively, and accurately. In a nutshell, internal communications is what allows employees to do their jobs. The digital workplaces (namely hybrid and remote work models but also deskless jobs) experience various communication barriers. Internal communications is a solution that directly responds to the shift in how organizations and employees work and provides a remedy to ineffective communication models. The role of internal communications is to enable growth, innovation, and efficiency of organizations, improve employee experience and transform workplaces into inclusive and equitable environments. When we are aligned as a workforce, we collaborate, build relationships, and learn from each other more effectively. Internal communications is meant to bring us together, whether in person or virtually. Benefits of Using Internal Communications As Baby Boomers have started and will complete their transfer to retirement in the upcoming ten years, newer generations are taking more and more space in the workforce. Gen Z has just begun entering the workforce, and Gen X will continue to work for at least one more decade, as the oldest of the generation start retiring about ten years from now. Gen Z, and to some extent Millennials, too, are mobile-first, accustomed to seamless, highly personalized experiences, with limited attention spans that come as a side effect of consuming immense amounts of information on a daily basis. This workforce needs and benefits from being aligned with the latest communication systems that consider this. The link between internal communications and businesses’ bottom lines sometimes isn’t apparent at first sight. Therefore, we lay out how internal communications serve the businesses’ goals. Benefit 1: Communication analytics Sending traditional, mass emails that get delivered to large chunks of the workforce does not come with analytics that informs internal communicators about the success of their communication campaigns. An excellent internal communications tool provides rich analytics and auto-generated reports giving insight into KPIs such as: employee response rates, devices used for reading, average email consumption time, the average time to link click, and other data points. Based on this data, internal communication professionals can make smart, data-driven decisions to improve their efforts and drive a better employee experience. Benefit 2: Increased employee engagement A Watson Wyatt (2008-2009) study found that strategies that engage employees include communication from managers, leadership communication, and a focus on internal communications. When leaders communicate company values to their employees in a straightforward manner, it results in more connection, commitment, and productivity. According to Forbes, productive and content employees aren’t motivated solely by money. Forbes states that there’s a strong correlation between an employee’s personal sense of purpose and organizational purpose. Organizations willing to keep their employees perfectly aligned to their purpose need to have an internal communications strategy in place. Further on, the McKinsey report includes findings that improved communication and collaboration through social technologies could raise the productivity of interaction workers by 20 to 25 percent. In a nutshell, the full potential of social technologies such as internal communications is yet to be harnessed. According to Gallup, 96% of engaged employees trust their management. Those engaged employees are more likely to support their organizations’ goals, be more creative, innovative, and overall – more productive. Additionally, SHRM research finds that employees are 23% more likely to offer ideas and solutions when there is more trust in a workplace. The disengaged employees, in turn, spread distrust and thus negatively impact company goals. The solution? Increase trust in workplaces, and that brings us to benefit Nr. 3. ➼ Get the e-book on the importance of employee communication. Benefit 3: Improved trust as a driver to a better employee experience The foundation of all relationships is trust. The relationships that lack trust are fragile and bound to dissolve. Companies need their employees to trust them as a lack of trust is related to poor retention rates. According to Gartner’s survey from March 2022, executive leaders reported an average turnover rate of 20% for frontline workers and 17% for knowledge workers. Employers looking to strengthen relationships with their workforce understand that trust is based on reliability – and that’s what employees value highly. Lack of communication or ineffective communication is a breeding ground for distrust among the workforce. A good internal communications strategy helps to build trust between employers and employees. According to the 2021 Trust Barometer by Edelman, one in three people doesn’t trust their employer. The latest (2022) Trust Barometer finds that 80% of the general population want CEOs to be personally visible when discussing public policy with external stakeholders or work their company has done to benefit society. In other words, employees want to see their leaders speak out transparently on issues that matter to them. The need to trust could not have been spelled out more explicitly than in this demand. (Also remember that members of Gen Z are unforgiving when a breach of trust occurs). Trust is the underrated currency of success. Here’s one more interesting stat that tells how valuable trust really is. According to a study by Watson Wyatt, high-trust organizations had a total return to shareholders (stock price plus dividends) that was 286 percent higher than low-trust organizations. Benefit 4: Dispel communication barriers and glitches Communication barriers refer to anything that hinders messages from being delivered to the right audience at the right time. Examples include: delayed reception of messages due to hybrid or remote work models, tone of messaging not aligned with the statement or content, or even deskless employees not using the most effective tools. McKinsey found that an average knowledge employee spends 14% of their workweek communicating and collaborating internally, and 19% searching and gathering information. With streamlined internal communications, an employee finds relevant company information faster, and ease of access also allows for better communication pathways. No more waiting for approvals and running rounds to see who is responsible for specific processes. Saving time on finding information is important, but not the only benefit. Further on, the frustration caused by ineffective technology is a hamper on employee experience, so streamlining internal communications helps employees feel they have the right tools to do their work faster and better. The McKinsey report states that “companies that have a high proportion of interaction workers can realize tremendous productivity improvements through faster internal communications and smoother collaboration.” Internal communications also future-proofs an organization when damage control or crisis control is needed. It ensures delivery and provides timely data about who saw or didn’t receive a relevant message. Benefit 5: Improved internal marketing Internal marketing refers to the communication of companies values, goals, mission, and purpose. Organizations use internal marketing to share and promote ideas with their first market – their employees. It is impossible to expect that employees support company goals and values without being well-acquainted with them. Internal marketing addresses this gap and serves employees the right information at the right time, treating employees of a company, as external marketing would treat customers. Some researchers equate internal marketing with HR. Employees who work in environments in which values are poorly communicated do so, too. This is important because, according to research by Zetty, only 50% of employees think that the HR department of their organization is trustworthy, and further 69% of employees disagreed with the claim that in disputes, the HR takes the employee’s side. While internal communicators aren’t technically part of the HR department, they collaborate a lot. A good internal communications strategy could remedy some of the frustration people feel towards HR and improve the image and trustworthiness of the HR department and company as a whole. ➼ Find out how to create and implement your internal communications strategy. Tips to Make the Most of Your Internal Communications 1. Make it engaging and immediate: uninterrupted reaction options for your workforce Businesses need to know their workforce to make adequate decisions to retain top talent during the raging War for Talent. Internal communications that allow two-way communication pathways will provide more chances for learning about employees. As opposed to top-down, two-way conversation models are more beneficial for organizations looking to nourish a company culture that encourages sharing of ideas. According to research by Real Touch Points, only 22% of Gen Z employees are likely to complete a traditional survey. Without knowing their employees’ attitudes toward company initiatives, companies risk working in the dark and ultimately, losing their employees. That’s why businesses must utilize quick and fast ways of getting feedback instead of relying on more traditional surveying that occurs less often. Including an ability to respond to information that’s been shared immediately, via a quick and short survey option embedded in the email and making responding easier – will produce better engagement than lengthy surveys. That way, employees can enjoy a seamless and uninterrupted way to engage in the company’s goals. Most importantly, it happens within their flow of work and their usual communication channels. ➼ Do you want to know how to speed up getting feedback within your Internal communications tool? Learn about actionable emails here. 2. Internal communications integrated with HRIS Integration with HRIS means that internal communications software is immediately synced with the data stored in the host HRIS and instantly updated. Everything that happens with employee data in the HRIS, is available for use in internal communications. For example, when your internal communications is integrated with HRIS, you significantly lessen the chance of sending messages to the wrong audience. When certain employees switch roles, or places of residence, or they’re simply unavailable because they’ve taken off for a maternity or paternity leave – internal communicators will be aware of their status. That way, they won’t be sending the right message to the wrong audiences as all the horizontal and vertical mobility in companies is immediately updated. Another aspect to consider is the ease of work for your internal communicators. When internal communications are integrated with HRIS, they have one less independent and disconnected tool to use, allowing them to send timely, relevant, personalized communications. ➼ Do you want to learn more about the benefits of integrating your internal communications solution with HRIS? Read about it here. 3. Personalization The era of sending depersonalized mass emails that look like they could have been sent to anyone by anyone is over. Employees do not have time to read messages that do not seem to concern them. Consider this striking data gathered by Sanebox: the average inbox contains only 38% important, relevant emails. Add to this that to read through, or even skim an email is an interruption that causes an employee, on average, 64 seconds to recover from a mail. Personalized emails are those that meet the readers halfway. Their responsive design makes it possible to read them on various devices whenever. The tone needs to be adjusted with the audience. For maximum personalization, internal communications software allows collaboration on content with multiple creators and experts within the company, so that the email sent contains the most relevant data possible. The careful consideration of what information gets delivered to whom subsequently increases emails’ opening and reading rates. Audience targeting and role-based-approvals of communication add an extra layer of relevancy and improve the overall impression of internal communications. ➼ Here you can learn more about the Internal Communications solution Nurture. Conclusion There has never been a greater need for solid internal communications software. Dispersed and scattered teams worldwide work well together when aligned and connected. Businesses’ external messaging needs to match the internal messaging, and the entire workplace needs to be aligned with companies’ values and purpose. To create a better employee experience, to increase trust and strengthen relationships at work, to keep everyone engaged and clear about the current happenings in the company – companies have started to utilize the power of personalized and integrated internal communications software. The ideal software meets employees halfway, so as to minimize interruptions and frustration that may arise when the tech stack is disconnected and disorganized. As social technology develops, we can expect further improvements in immersing internal communications in the workflow. Finally, we can expect that the deskless and desktop workers become equally aligned as barriers to reaching them get sorted by responsive, flexible, and integrable software.