17 tips for strategic internal communications

Productivity starts with motivation, inspiration and creating genuine connections in the workplace.

Company culture can give your organization a major strategic advantage in these uncertain, turbulent times.

The goals, values and practices that constitute your culture, however, must be effectively transmitted and communicated for employees to buy in. It’s essential to focus not just on what you’re communicating but also on how you’re communicating it.

The 17 internal communication tenets below will help get your team connected, engaged and motivated.

1. Envision, strategize and plan first.

What do you want internal communications to do for your team and your company? How will you get there? Where does it stand right now, and what needs improvement? How soon would you like to reach your goals? Who will be responsible for what?

Use your answers to these questions to create an internal communications strategy.

2. Use the right tools.

To increase companywide participation and get more conversations going, you need technology that’s seamless, user-friendly and collaborative.

You might consider:

  • Implementing company chat software like Slack, Yammer or HipChat
  • Using cloud technology like Google Drive, along with a single platform for all your email, calendars and documents
  • Cutting down on email and increasing the use of visual communications and digital signage

3. Use visuals.

The brain processes images about 60,000 times faster than text . Visuals convey information in an easy-to-digest manner to have a more lasting impression than text.

Instead of printing posters, why not go digital? Mount TVs in your offices to display a rotating selection of visual messaging such as:

  • Company announcements, job openings, sales and marketing metrics, or non-company-specific information such as breaking news and the weather
  • Goals, accomplishments or motivational quotes
  • Social media feeds, live hashtag walls or team photos

4. Make it entertaining

Millennials like to have fun at work. Internal communications can help you create an enjoyable, entertaining workplace.

You might opt for a “random” Slack channel, in which team members can share wacky news stories, funny YouTube videos and anything else they find amusing. It’s a fun way for workers to blow off steam while building camaraderie.

5. Include metrics whenever possible.

Quantifying progress can do wonders for your team’s work ethic and morale. Metrics should inform employees of the company’s current and past performance, trends in performance, goals to reach and progress made toward those goals.

You can use digital signage to display company, departmental or even individual metrics throughout your office.

6. Don’t lose sight of the big picture.

Communicating specific, targeted information is fantastic, but you also should circulate your company’s overarching goals, mission and other culture components.

Communicate big-picture concepts in addition to day-to-day matters. Include them in emails, digital displays or internal newsletters to remind your team that they are part of something larger than themselves.

7. Provide channels for feedback and ideas.

Feedback is vital to any company’s survival and success. This includes feedback from customers, of course, but also employee feedback.

What’s the value of a thought or idea if it’s never expressed? Provide channels for your team to give feedback and share ideas, whether it’s regarding the workplace, the current product, potential future products or the company at large.

It could be a company forum, a designated channel within your company chat software, a whiteboard in the office or a cloud-based service. Without these channels, you’re missing out on brilliant ideas and helpful criticisms.

8. Encourage cross-departmental communication and collaboration.

If one of your internal communications goals is getting your employees to learn from one another, cross-departmental communication is key. Hold a Q&A session or a special meeting between different departments to get them communicating, collaborating and sharing insight.

9. Avoid communication overload.

Access to instant correspondence can be a blessing and a curse. With internal communications, less is more. Keep things simple, brief and to the point.

Consider sending out your internal newsletter less frequently. Focus on sending the right information to the right people at the right time. Your team will thank you.

10. Don’t just inform, inspire action.

Your internal communications practices should ultimately lead to action. Viktoria Tegard, Virgin Atlantic’s internal communications boss, says, “Companies who want to remain competitive and successful need to ensure they involve, motivate and inspire colleagues.”

You can do so by:

· Including calls to action in messages

· Sharing motivational quotes, your company’s mission and goals, etc.

· Offering to reward individuals or teams for certain accomplishments

11. Open the lines of communication.

Having an “open-door policy” shouldn’t be limited to a physical space. It should be easy for anyone to contact anyone in the company, including upper management, through your internal communications system.

Opening the lines of communication will encourage and empower team members to chat instead of staying silent. Whether you’re a large corporation or a startup, this internal communications practice bridges gaps and helps build receptive, honest relationships.

12. Be transparent and honest.

Transparency is crucial to your internal communications because it breeds trust, accountability and open dialogue. If your team members feel that they’re being left in the dark, they may be afraid to ask questions. If you withhold from them, they’ll withhold from you.

Not all information can or should be shared with everyone, of course, but honest, straightforward transparency can boost harmony and rapport within your company.

13. Encourage company-related use of social media.

Your employees use social media. Why not use that to your advantage?

Instead of blocking online networks at work, encourage your team to share photos of themselves working and having fun in the office. Providing space for positive social media activity is great for employee engagement and morale, and it affords you an opportunity to showcase the people who fuel your company.

14. Share industry news, trends, and insights.

Your team members should stay updated on the latest industry scoop, from your CEO to your web designer.

Encourage your colleagues to share news, market trends, opinion pieces and other industry-related blurbs with one another. This is a great way to spark creativity, and get a sense for where you stand compared to competitors.

15. Use internal communications for praise and recognition.

Praise goes a long way, especially in an age when employees want to feel valued and appreciated. A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that employees who feel valued report “higher levels of engagement, satisfaction and motivation.” This is an easy win for companies, but many have no formal praise plan nor procedures in place.

Recognition can simply be announcing individual or departmental successes through your chat software or newsletter. Compliments, kudos and appreciation do wonders for morale, which facilitates more productivity and good will.

16. Create a customer-centric team with personas.

Internal communications can help your employees connect with customers and learn more about them. Allison Davis of Davis & Co. recommends creating “profiles of typical customers, complete with photos, demographics, likes and dislikes—including what TV shows they watch (“Walking Dead” or “Downton Abbey”?) and snacks they prefer (edamame or beef jerky?). That way, customers become vivid, tangible and top of mind.”

17. Promote employee resources and training.

Your internal communications should consistently relay which benefits and resources are available to employees, including health insurance, 401(k) plans, seminars, offsite training opportunities or career-building workshops.

Use a combination of email, chat, digital signage, internal blogs or in-person team meetings to get the word out. Everyone benefits when you encourage employees to invest in their own personal and professional development through your company.

Colin Bovet is the Head of Marketing at Enplug. A version of this post originally appeared on Enplug’s blog.

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