How well does your organization communicate with its employees?
According to a study by KRC Research, fewer than 3 in 10 employees report they are being communicated with, listened to, and kept in the loop.
At the same time, communication is a fundamental factor that impacts employee satisfaction and engagement. So in other words, if your internal communication is lacking, your organization will suffer.
Below we’ll cover why communication matters and how to improve internal communication in an organization.
Why is internal communication important?
Internal communication is all about how you share information and resources throughout your organization—from top leadership to management and employees.
When done well, internal communication can facilitate collaboration and engagement and clarify your company’s core mission, values, and strategies. The better you are able to do this, the more productive and successful your organization will be.
Effective internal communication results in:
- Higher productivity
- Increased employee engagement
- Improved morale
- Increased efficiency
- Greater collaboration
- Fewer mistakes
- Better customer service
Why is internal communication so powerful?
Communication is crucial for building a strong relationship with your employees. In fact, more than 80% of Americans say employee communication is a key factor in developing trust in their employers.
And trust is important.
Employees that trust and feel connected to an organization are more likely to be engaged, resulting in less turnover and increased productivity—which is nothing to sneeze at. Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion a year.
Therefore, how well you communicate with your employees across the organization and within teams and departments can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
Internal communications impacts every part of your business. So it’s important to make it count.
8 tips to improve your internal communication strategy
Internal communications help organizations lead effectively by clarifying goals, strategies, decisions, and by delivering practical information and resources for employees to do their best work. However, from the executive suite to middle management, communications often fall short.
So how can companies bridge the communication gap?
Use the following tips to level up your internal communication plan and engage your employees successfully.
1. Assess your current communication strategy
Before you can create or improve your communication strategies, you have to understand what you are doing right now. What does your current communication strategy look like? What are your current goals and objectives?
Perform audits of the communication channels you are using to connect with employees. This might include email, chat, memos, town hall meetings, one-on-ones, trainings, presentations, onboarding, and newsletters, as well as collaboration tools or platforms. How effective have these methods been? What could be improved?
As you review your strategy, consider what metrics you will use to measure success. These could include employee engagement stats, feedback, and employee adoption of communication tools.
2. Ask employees for feedback
Internal communication shouldn’t just be top-down. Get feedback from your employees and act on it.
Feedback is a powerful tool for understanding your employees’ experiences and perceptions. It’s also a simple but effective way to give your employees a voice. Employees who feel their voice is heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.
Build feedback loops into your regular operations. Make giving and receiving feedback routine and it will become a natural part of your culture. As you incorporate feedback into your communication strategy, be sure to outline the standards and expectations for feedback.
As you develop these standards, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who gives feedback?
- How is feedback collected?
- How and when will you respond?
- What is the goal of feedback?
Answering these questions will help you establish clear expectations and help your managers and employees give and receive feedback effectively.
See how you can gather feedback from remote team members just as easily as in the office.
3. Establish communication best practices and norms
How your company communicates is an important part of your company culture. Design your communication practices intentionally to ensure communication is effective, honest, and engaging at every level.
To do this, you will need to establish best practices and norms for internal communication.
For example, what does your employee onboarding process look like? Make sure you have a standard practice for new employees so everyone is on the same page from day one and receives the right information and training they need to succeed in their new role.
Improve cross-functional communication by developing a common language to standardize internal jargon and terminology. Be sure to share this common language with new employees and when onboarding team members to a project.
Additionally, map out expectations and proper channels for how information is shared within the company. This includes how to share company news on social media, how employees can connect with executives, and how employees should communicate in the office.
4. Foster open communication
Open communication encourages knowledge sharing, collaboration, and feedback. Foster communication by adopting communication channels that make it easy for employees to connect and share.
Lead by example. Thirty-three percent of employees said a lack of open, honest communication has the most negative impact on employee morale. Don’t shy away from employee feedback or tough conversations. Respond to feedback in a timely and respectful manner. When employees see you modeling open communication, and they feel trusted and respected, they will be more comfortable working together and communicating honestly.
5. Be transparent
Transparency creates trust between employees and employers and improves engagement and performance. Without transparency from leadership, employees may feel uncertain about the future and unclear about their roles and the reasoning behind key strategies or decisions.
Act with transparency by keeping your employees in the loop. A whopping 74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news.
You can close that gap in a few ways:
- Communicate regularly with your employees through written updates (like memos and newsletters) and through meetings like quarterly town halls.
- Document company processes and operations and make them easily accessible for all employees.
- Celebrate company (and employee) successes and acknowledge when you make mistakes.
Transparency is about honesty and respect. When you lead with transparency, your employees will reward you with greater engagement and more effective communication.
Maintain transparency in the workplace whether your employees work out of the same office or all across the world.
6. Use visuals
The human brain processes visual information faster and more easily than the written word. Visualizing data and information can clarify and translate complex ideas, reduce misunderstanding and miscommunication, and help people make connections between data and processes more easily.
You can incorporate visuals into your communication materials in lots of ways. For example, include visuals like org charts in your onboarding materials, map out operations to clarify team or business processes, and simplify benefits policies through an interactive flowchart.
Whether you’re presenting strategies or company trends at an all-hands meeting, or you’re sharing ideas for a cross-departmental project, use visuals to improve understanding and make sure everyone is on the same page.
7. Leverage the right technology
As more employees work remotely and companies operate across distributed workplaces, technology is an increasingly important communication solution.
There are many workplace communication and collaboration tools to choose from. Slack, Google chat, Zoom, and platforms like Asana or Lucidchart are just a few. What tools you use will depend on your company size, culture, and communication needs.
As you consider which technology to use, the key is to be strategic. Be careful not to overload your employees with too many communication channels. Too many platforms can make it difficult for people to keep track of information and conversations.
Try to limit where most communication and collaboration are happening so everyone is on the same page and has access to the right people and the right information.
8. Reinforce your company culture
Finally, reinforce your company culture by sharing the company mission, goals, and vision with all employees.
Communicate your company strategy and goals regularly—bring them up during one-on-ones and performance reviews, tie in the company vision to employee and team goals, and share updates on the company’s performance and progress toward those goals.
As you communicate regularly and transparently about company goals and strategies, you will help connect your employees to your mission, contextualize their roles within the organization, and engage them more effectively.
Internal communication is so much more than a quarterly newsletter from the executives or how HR delivers policy messaging. It’s how every person interacts, communicates, and collaborates within your organization—and it impacts everything from employee morale and engagement to productivity, efficiency, and your bottom line.
When done right, your internal communication plan can break down silos, build trust between leaders and employees, and move your organization forward.
Visual communication can help you more clearly get your message across so your team can innovate faster.