10 elements of an effective internal communications strategy

An internal communications strategy can make the difference between a company with engaged, inspired and energized workers and a company where employees feel no attachment to your brand at all.

In a widely reported story a couple of years back, Gallup, the research consultancy, revealed that a full 70% of US workers are not engaged at work. The level of disengaged workers is clearly of major concern to employers – poor engagement results in high staff turnover (and expensive replacement costs), low productivity and poor customer satisfaction.

So, how can companies reverse this trend? An internal communications strategy is a good place to start. In a study on the impact of different kinds of software, McKinsey, the business consultancy, revealed that improved communications can contribute to improving productivity by up to 35%. By developing an internal communications strategy, you can start to revitalize employee engagement and build a happier workforce. The following ten steps will show you how to achieve this.

1. What is your internal communications strategy right now?

The first step in this process is to review where you are right now: what kind of communications do you do? How are they conveyed? Who is responsible for them and how do employees react to it? Whether you do no internal communications at all or find your current internal communications strategy insufficient, this stage will give you a benchmark on what you will improve on.

2. Set your vision for where you want to be

What do you want to achieve through your internal communications strategy? You should have a clear idea of where you’re trying to get to. This might involve:

  • Greater employee awareness of company news
  • More interaction between departments
  • Greater company loyalty
  • Or anything else!

Of course, this end goal may evolve over time, but without a clear idea of where you want to be, you can’t know whether your internal communications strategy has been a success. Which leads on to…

3. Measurement

Define how you will measure the success of your internal communications strategy. Will this include a higher rate of email opens? More ‘likes’ on your social networking platform? Surveys with employees to find out what they know about latest company news? Whatever you choose to measure, define it in relation to your end goal and give yourself two or three different metrics to consistently test against over time.

4. Do a little audience research before you begin

Whether it’s interviews, a survey or focus groups, it’s wise to carry out some research with colleagues to find out what they actually expect from internal communications. Simply speaking to them to discover what they’d actually like to know about the company, and in what medium they’d like to find it out may well reveal a lot of insights. These should certainly influence your strategy. It’s also valuable to continue to update this research periodically.

5. Define a clear tone of voice or style

Do you want to create a witty weekly email? Want natural interactions between employees and senior management? Want a slick, corporate tone? Every organization is different and will value a different style that fits around their culture. Nonetheless, you should define what this is in advance in your internal communications strategy and stick to it.

6. Use video

There is a huge wealth of evidence that shows just how engaging video can be, and as a means of conveying messages and capturing audience attention, there perhaps no better current medium. Ensure your internal communication strategy supports video in some form – whether that’s adding videos of team activity days on the intranet or interviews with the CEO about your company’s vision. It’s easier than ever to store video in modern intranets and this facility should be used to full effect wherever and whenever possible.

7. Ensure your communications are mobile-friendly

Employees increasingly expect to access company content portals via their mobile devices. Even if you have the most inspiring and regularly updated company intranet home page, if it doesn’t support mobile, it will be wasted. Many companies only provide company news that can be viewed on a desktop computer – make sure you provide colleagues with mobile access so that they can connect from anywhere. This will also help you engage with employees who rarely work at a desk.

8. Define a budget

A successful internal communications strategy will require investment. If you want decent quality videos, inspiring photos and employee stories, these will all be time and cost intensive. Having a budget, and being able to show how money was spent and its impact will prove the value of what you are doing.

9. Allow for feedback channels

In addition to doing some basic audience research when initially laying out your strategy, allow for feedback throughout. Make it clear that you are open to hearing new ideas about what the internal communications strategy should be and how it can serve your company and its culture. This will also give you exciting new ideas and help keep your content relevant.

10. Make it social and interactive

Social intranets are a powerful means of boosting employee engagement. Indeed, the McKinsey Global Institute report found social technologies can “raise the productivity of workers by 20 to 25%”. So make sure you use social features to their fullest. These should include:

  • Forums
  • News alerts
  • RSS Feeds
  • Blogs
  • Q&A sessions

Valo Intranet provides your company with the center for all its communication and collaboration needs. Valo supports your best practice internal communications strategy. Book a demo with Valo today to begin exploring how it could support you.   

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