Great internal communication can have a massive positive affect on an
organization, but not if leaders don't recognize its power.
Internal communication teams must always do those functional (sometimes
boring) tasks, such as telling employees when annual reviews are due or
that the expense-report policy is changing. This is basic, but vital, and
if not done right, the power if internal communication won't emerge.
However, there is much more to internal communication. It can affect
employee engagement, and it plays a significant role in encouraging better
employee and business performance. It can even influence the bottom line.
most business leaders don't understand employee engagement; for that
matter, neither do many communicators. Employee engagement isn't just having "interested" employees, but
employees that go the extra mile and pour themselves into their work
There is significant research about what leads to higher levels of employee
engagement, and communication is at the top of the list. Here are the top
three factors that influence employee engagement:
1. Leadership communication
Research shows that leadership communication is the top internal
communication factor that statistically correlates to employee engagement.
Internal communication teams have a powerful role in supporting, coaching
and reminding leaders of communication's importance. Line managers
especially need robust communication training; many become managers not
because of their communication skills, but because they're good at their
Senior leaders (CEOs, directors and their leadership teams) must be an
organization's best communicators, but they're usually not. That is why
business partnering has been a positive move within internal
communications. Internal communicators should be part of senior leadership
teams, not only to keep communication at the top of the agenda, but also to
coach and support leaders in their communications. This is especially
important, as face-to-face communication about the organization's vision,
strategy and progress is strongly linked to better employee engagement.
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2. The organization's reputation
Anything that affects what employees think of the organization they work
for (perceived organizational identity) or what they think their friends
and family think of the organization they work for (construed external
image) directly correlates with employee engagement.
We spend 40 percent of our lives at work, so of course we want to be
associated with an organization that reflects our values and identity.
As internal communicators, we should communicate topics that elevate the
organization's reputation in employees' minds, such as positive media
coverage, awards and prizes, and corporate social responsibility. We should
also provide the organization's stance on negative media coverage. Don't
spin the news; trust employees with authentic ammunition to defend the
organization to family and friends, if necessary.
How keen would you be to stand behind your organization if it faced
3. Employee voice
Employee voice is highly correlated to employee engagement, yet it is a
mostly untapped resource. Employee voice is when employees believe they
have a say, and that it leads to action. Many leaders talk about
two-way communication, but they rarely practice it. What can internal
They can support and influence leaders to encourage and enable employees to
have a voice, both in their day-to-day roles and with bigger business
issues (employees are often closer to these issues than managers). We can
also provide a platform where employees can share their opinions. Use an
informal channel, such as enterprise social media, or a more formal
platform, such as an employee feedback tool. Listen to employees, and share
their ideas with the people in influential positions.
Internal communication has enormous power to improve employee engagement
and therefore employee and business performance. Ignore it at your peril.
Matthew Morgan is an
Internal Communications Business Partner at Vodafone. A version of this
article originally appeared on