Why are internal communications important?
Engaging with employees through effective internal communications is a key part of an integrated marketing communications strategy.
Countless organisations build successful relationships with customers through effective marketing communications (which delights us, of course!), but it is also worth considering how these business relationships are sustained by engaging and motivating employees.
How effective employee communication makes a difference
With all the pressures and strains of the working world, it is easy for employees to become disillusioned and disengaged when things do not seem to be going well. Employment is as much about our sense of self-worth as it is about fulfilling our financial commitments, and shrewd business owners and managers understand this. An appreciated and valued workforce is a loyal one.
Through a programme of well-designed and executed internal communications, organisations can engender trust among supervisors and staff, breakdown the ‘silo mentality’ between departments, communicate business aims, share knowledge and best practice, and work towards common goals.
And, when something internal is affecting an organisation negatively, such as poor financial performance, or an external factor like an economic downturn, ensuring employees are well informed and encouraged to contribute their ideas is imperative.
Different types of internal communications
A quick Google search shows that communications between managers and staff fall under interpersonal, nonverbal, oral and written. While the first two on this list are usually tackled as part of an effective personal development programme, as marketers we are largely concerned with how an organisation’s products, services and brand are conveyed to employees through targeted spoken and written messages that reflect the wider business goals.
We refer to this activity more accurately as ‘internal marketing communications’ because it is concerned with ensuring that your employees – and other stakeholders – understand your organisation’s purpose so that they convey this to the outside world.
Mechanisms for sharing your organisation’s aims with staff (for them to then ‘live’ this externally as brand ambassadors) include daily ‘all staff’ emails and regular intranet bulletins, as well as large-scale change management programmes.
Handling internal comms sensitively
As with external marketing communications, tone of voice (ToV) is an important consideration when preparing staff communications. Not all employees will understand technical jargon. And a business that operates across country boundaries will need to avoid cultural references that don’t translate between languages. Getting this right will always require judgement; depending on the type of organisation, in-jokes and an informal ToV might be acceptable in an established workplace.
Some internal comms channels are more suited to certain types of messages than others. An email broadcast is probably not the best vehicle for announcing a change that involves cuts to the workforce, for instance.
Avoiding mention of commercially sensitive information in an employee communique is also a sensible idea. In addition to staff leaking corporate secrets (accidentally or otherwise), visitors to your organisation might also catch sight of an internal memo left on show.
Don’t let corporate paralysis stifle creativity completely though – with imagination, you can use the intranet, video, presentations, briefing documents and email updates to communicate with employees positively to encourage their loyalty to your brand.
Hiring contractors and freelancers is a great way to access specialist skills and increase capacity.