Boosting Business Success: The Power of Internal Communication
Written by: Eveline Jacobse
Last updated: 23 May 2023
Table of contents
- What is internal communication?
- Why is internal communication important?
- What is the difference between internal and external communication?
- 4 Pillars of internal communication
- How can internal communication be improved?
- Does the law regulate internal communication?
- Most popular internal communication tools
- Analogue communication tools
- The 5-phase of effective internal communication strategy
- Choosing the Right Tools
- Internal Communication: The 6 Worst Mistakes to Avoid
What is internal communication?
Internal communication (IC) is exchanging important information within an organisation. This involves verbal and non-verbal communication and often occurs between different departments or levels of management. Internal communication is vital to the success of any business; without this, employees will be left in the dark about company decisions, goals and news.
Internal communication plays an essential role in employee engagement. When employees feel like you're involved in the decision-making process, you're more likely to show commitment to their work and invest in the company's success. Good internal communication can also help build trust between management and employees.
You can use many internal communication channels, including face-to-face meetings, video conferencing, email, instant messaging, and intranets. Choose the right channel for every message; for example, a message that requires immediate action cannot be delivered via email. Internal communications should be clear, concise and timely.
Why is internal communication important?
Internal communication is, therefore, no longer just an instrument for disseminating company information but rather an instrument of corporate management.
HR needs solid internal communication, especially regarding topics such as employer branding or candidate experience. Communication of the corporate culture is essential in order to speak a common language in central HR processes.
Internal Communication Informs
Correct and reliable information enables employees to reach their full potential. Internal employee communication starts with the onboarding process and continues throughout the career. However, in order to generate knowledge from information, it is crucial to understand yourself.
Internal Communication Promotes Dialogue
Employees must have the opportunity to ask questions and give feedback so that communication can be dialogue-based and not one-way, top-down. The most important target groups include HR management, supervisors, employees and the works council (affinity groups are also included in the communication).
Motivates and Retains Employees
Introducing a communication culture in your company can immediately increase your employees' motivation if you use transparent communication methods.
What is the difference between internal and external communication?
Internal communication occurs within an organisation, while external communication occurs between an organisation and its stakeholders (like customers, suppliers and media).
Internal communication is often less formal than external communication and usually occurs between different departments or levels of management. External communication tends to be more traditional and often occurs through advertising, public relations, and customer service channels.
A company must have a strong internal communication system in order to build and maintain external communication in a targeted manner. If internal communication is not working properly, it is very difficult to establish external communication. Therefore, internal and external communication should be consistent and convey uniform business conduct.
4 Pillars of internal communication
Communication is the process of sharing information with others, which is an essential part of any successful organisation. This pillar relates to how information is shared within the organisation through various means, such as email and phone calls. In an ideal world, you'll share all data on time, but that's rarely the case.
Dialogue refers to the informal communication between employees, managers and others within an organisation. While formal communication methods are essential, informal interactions are often just as crucial in building organisational relationships. These informal conversations can help build trust between colleagues and keep everyone engaged.
Employees must be motivated to do their job as well as possible. Motivation is key to any workforce and must be maintained through appropriate communication channels. When employees are motivated by their work environment, you are more likely to do well at the tasks assigned to them by their manager or peers because they feel valued by those around them. If employees don't feel motivated, you can't get results or work efficiently.
When an employee has new knowledge or skills, they must be able to convey them in a way that others can benefit from. Knowledge transfer is one of the most critical aspects of internal communication, allowing employees to share their expertise and grow as individuals. And overall communication skills are important in this process, as they will help an employee to better understand and be understood by their colleagues.
How can internal communication be improved?
There are a few key things companies can do to improve their internal communications:
- Encourage open communication: Employees should feel that they can communicate openly with their manager. You can do this by encouraging two-way communication and providing a forum for employees to share their ideas and concerns.
- Make information accessible: Internal communications should be easy to find and accessible. You can use an intranet or an employee portal to store and exchange information.
- Be timely: Internal communications should be timely and relevant. This means that announcements and updates are sent out in a timely manner and that employees get the information they need when they need it.
- Clarity: Internal communications should be clear and concise. This means avoiding jargon and using simple language that anyone can understand.
- Encourage feedback: Feedback is essential to improve internal communication. Employees should be encouraged to provide feedback on the communications they receive. You can use this feedback to improve communication and ensure employees get the necessary information.
Internal communication is a crucial factor in the success of a company. By carefully planning and executing internal communications, companies can ensure that all employees are on the same page and understand the company's goals.
You can improve internal communication by encouraging open communication and ensuring that information is accessible, timely, and clear. Feedback is also important to ensure employees are getting the information they need.
When done properly, internal communication can help build trust and relationships between leaders and employees. Engage employees in the communications process and ensure that everyone is on the same page to improve company productivity.
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Does the law regulate internal communication?
It is a legal requirement that employers must maintain internal communications within and outside of their organisation. According to the Works Constitution Act (BetrVG), employers must inform, communicate and advise their employees and groups. In the long term, image losses and administrative offences can be avoided.
The following statutory provisions regulate internal communication:
- The individual employee must be informed in accordance with § 81 BetrVG.
- At works meetings, for example, the entire workforce must be informed according to §§ 43 (2) and 110 BetrVG.
- According to Section 74 (1), Section 80 (3), Section 90 and Section 111 BetrVG, the company must inform and communicate with it if there is a works council.
- According to Section 106 BetrVG, a report is to be submitted to the Economic Committee (WA).
Internal communication is based on the following activities:
- information and feedback to employees about their work, their performance and any problems that may arise during their work;
- Providing information about policies and procedures to all employees;
- Providing information about the organisation's goals to all employees;
- Providing information about the responsibilities of each employee, including those of supervisors, managers and officers;
- Training for new employees, including orientation and job-specific training;
- Ensuring that employees are aware of relevant laws and regulations affecting their work environment;
- Feedback to employees on their performance at all levels of the organisation.
Most popular internal communication tools
Internal communication tools are a good way to inform and motivate your employees. Here are some of the most popular internal communication tools:
Intranet or Social Intranet
Intranets are websites that employees use to access company resources such as human resources, payroll, scheduling, and benefits. Large companies use them frequently because they offer employees an easy way to get the information they need in one place. In addition, employees can exchange documents and work together on projects more easily on an intranet than in a personal conversation.
Events are another way to communicate with your employees. For example, you could host a weekly meeting in your office for all employees working in different regions of the country to discuss important issues related to their jobs.
You could also organise team-building activities such as a joint lunch or a meeting outside the company where all employees come together for a meal or an overnight stay. In situations like this, it's essential to make everyone feel welcome and included, so in-person events are a great way to make that happen!
Intranets are online portals that allow employees to access various information, including documents, videos, and other multimedia content. You can also use them for collaboration. Intranets can provide content to all employees or those who need it most (e.g. managers).
A company newsletter is a great way to keep your employees up-to-date with company news and events. It can also be used as an internal communication tool by publishing articles relevant to the tasks of each employee or department. Through your communication strategies, newsletters can help you stay in touch with your employees and build a strong foundation for your company culture.
An internal blog is a great way to keep all employees informed about important events in your company and to share valuable content with them regularly. It helps you build trust among employees and increase employee engagement by providing them with the information they can use in their day-to-day activities.
Internal Newsletters or Emails
An internal newsletter or email is a great way to keep your team members up to date on new developments in the company. You can send newsletters or emails on specific topics, e.g. instructions and tips for employees who need help with specific tasks. You can customise these newsletters or emails based on what information you want to share with your team members.
Chat or Instant Messaging Tools
Chat or instant messaging tools are great for informal conversations between employees when there isn't enough time for a face-to-face conversation during working hours. With this communication tool, employees can easily communicate without worrying about being interrupted by others who might be doing something else at the time.
This is a great way to connect with employees in another part of the world or on another continent. With this technology, you can see participants on a screen instead of hearing them over the phone or internet connection. You can even have multiple people speak at the same time!
Analogue communication tools
Analogue tools continue to be helpful for internal communication. This is especially true when older employees are used to traditional communication methods.
Bulletin boards are a great way for employees to get involved and help their colleagues with questions or concerns about the company or their role. They also make it easy for managers like you to improve employee morale in your company by publishing articles about company news or giving away prizes based on seniority on certain days of the year.
You can create both a digital and a printed edition. A printed employee magazine is ideal for businesses populated primarily by baby boomers. It shows appreciation and recognition to the older employees, which is of great importance to them. However, as printed editions become more expensive, more and more companies are phasing them out.
Personal Appraisal Interview
Employees can positively contribute to shared success and improve their work performance through constructive feedback and recognition from their superiors. Regular employee appraisal allows them to improve their performance.
Company celebrations are not only a good way to strengthen the "we" feeling but also a fun way to exchange ideas and get to know each other better. They take place on various occasions and enable new employees to be integrated into the team and promote cross-departmental communication.
The 5-phase of effective internal communication strategy
Following are the five phases to improve the internal communications strategy:
Phase 1: The problem is identified. This includes identifying the problem, naming it and describing it in detail. It must also be determined who is responsible for solving the problem and what resources they need.
Phase 2: All relevant information is gathered from all sources (internal, external and people). This also includes gathering information from other departments or company areas and external sources such as customers or suppliers.
Phase 3: A target definition is developed based on the information gathered in phase 2 and other relevant data sources such as statistics or research studies. This goal definition should clearly define the problem in terms of its root causes, possible solutions, an action plan, timeline and milestones, and the associated costs and benefits.
Phase 4: Planning is implemented by setting up a process that will allow you to achieve your goals while considering all relevant factors, such as cost constraints, deadline pressures, etc., that may affect the implementation of your business strategy solution(s).
Phase 5: Review the results by measuring how well you have achieved your goals using various techniques (e.g. polls, discussions, results tracking, etc.). It allows you to see the situation and approach it in an organised manner and, if necessary, change course.
These phases can help you improve your internal communications function so that it runs more smoothly.
Choosing the Right Tools
To avoid overwhelming employees with too many communication tools, draw inspiration from the examples, but not too many. It is very important to determine the objective of your internal communication. What is your goal? Everyone involved must know which information is communicated via which channel. A few tools should suffice.
You can consider the following criteria when selecting an instrument to make your decision easier.
- Is the instrument suitable for conveying the desired content? For example, you should convey some content personally rather than via digital means.
- Does the information reach those involved in good times? Is the information conveyed in real-time?
- It may be that younger employees prefer the intranet, while older employees cannot do without the employee magazine. How do the employees feel when using the chosen tool?
- Does the tool allow employees to provide feedback and share their opinions?
- Images and gestures are important to convey recognition and appreciation. A look of appreciation says a thousand words, as the saying goes.
Internal Communication: The 6 Worst Mistakes to Avoid
Internal communication is the key to success for every employee. Getting their messages across clearly and consistently can be challenging for managers and leaders, but it's essential if you want your employees to know what you expect from them and how to improve their performance.
These six internal communication mistakes will leave your team confused and unmotivated:
Don’t Overlook the Importance of Internal Communication
Internal communications helps you communicate with all team members about important issues in a timely manner. It also allows you to understand what is on the employees' minds so you can better help them in future work situations.
For example, if an employee has a question about a new project or their role in the company, they can ask their manager or supervisor for help without waiting weeks or months for an answer!
Don’t Take It for Granted - Plan It and Invest in It
Planning how you will communicate with your team is crucial if you want to open communication channels between departments within your company or different companies.
If you don't plan, it can feel like an afterthought when an opportunity to communicate arises - not including people can create resentment among employees, who may not engage in future conversations about work issues (or ignore them altogether).
Keep Communication Channels Open and Two-Way
This seems obvious, but there are many instances where employees do not feel comfortable sharing information with others within their own organisation. If this is the case for you, you need to encourage more open communication channels by ensuring everyone knows what's going on at all times. So there are no surprises or misunderstandings later.
Respect Employees’ Time, Attention and Information Needs
When internal communication is not done properly, employees feel that they are being ignored or treated unfairly. Respecting their time is important so they feel valued and included in decision-making. This also helps keep them engaged in their work and not feel overwhelmed by all the projects going on around them. Employees need to know what's going on in order to make informed decisions or take appropriate action.
Be Clear, Concise, and Consistent in Delivering Messages
When you're trying to convey a complex idea, it helps to make sure everyone understands what you mean. Using lots of different words, you can get people to understand what you're saying without repeatedly explaining yourself. Don't get bogged down in jargon; don't confuse your audience with complicated language or acronyms. Also, make sure you use the right words at the right time - for example, if someone asks you a question about a product that's not yet available, don't try to sell them the new version right away!
Encourage Feedback and Respond to It Constructively
Don't ignore suggestions from colleagues - they know better than anyone! But don't take everything they say at face value, either. Be open-minded and think about the reasons for their suggestions before you act on them yourself. That way, you can ensure everyone involved is comfortable with your plans for the future and avoid the awkwardness and conflict that comes with a forced change of direction.
Internal communication is essential for any business but is often overlooked or taken for granted. By following the tips above and an effective internal communication strategy, you can ensure that your team is always informed and feels respected and valued. Clear and concise communication can avoid misunderstandings and ensure everyone is on the same page.
By encouraging feedback, you can ensure everyone's voice is heard and that your plans for the future are always supported by the people who know your business best. These internal communications initiatives will save you time and money in the long run, by ensuring that your team is always aware of what's going on and can take appropriate action when necessary - so invest in it today!
Eveline is an experienced HR expert with a passion for content writing in the field. She has distinguished herself by sharing her in-depth knowledge and insights into HR topics and trends through articles that are both practical and informative. Her experience and expertise in human resources add value, and she continues to dedicate herself to informing and inspiring peers with her well-thought-out and well-founded content.
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