Making your internal communications more engaging

Internal communications can feel like white noise in the workplace with so many touchpoints. What can you do to make sure you get your internal comms right?

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Internal communications can feel like white noise in the workplace with so many touchpoints, over multiple platforms, all of the time. The volume of information each of receives with our workplace can feel overwhelming and as a result, many of us fail to engage with internal comms channels appropriately. Your company’s internal comms relate to every interaction you have with your team, every piece of information shared across every platform, at any time. As an employer, focusing on them might be something you have pushed to the bottom of the priority list however knowing how integral they are in every aspect of your business should be a reminder of just how crucial getting these communications right is.

Focusing attention on external communications and output is key to any business’ success but equally, investing in the correct strategy and implementation of a positive and well-considered internal comms plan is just as vital. Ensuring engagement with your team, building up a sense of trust and involvement, creating the company culture you want to build on and ultimately improving productivity through increased talent retention? These are no small benefits.

So, what is it about our internal communications that is so easy to get wrong?

Who is in charge? 

The process of managing internal comms can be quite chaotic with either too many people involved or no one specific person in charge of oversight. The idea of being responsible for internal comms can also feel secondary to an employee’s other responsibilities so finding a way to properly entrust individuals with pieces of communication in a positive way can have very productive returns. 

Channel choices

What channels you choose to roll out your internal communications can come from strategy, habit or simply inheriting methods that have been used in a business for years. From email to Slack, WhatsApp to intranet, there are a myriad of choices to communicate with your team. It’s often the case that businesses are either using too many platforms (leading to employee overload and inevitable disengagement) or choosing to use the wrong platforms (those that are less accessible to hybrid or remote teams, those with confusing interfaces or non intuitive information flows). 

Approval stalls 

Depending on the size of the business, you might find a weighty approval process is in place for all internal communications. From drafting to proofreading, manager approval to senior level approval, the chain is long and can slow down both posting and engagement levels especially during times of crisis.

Messaging doesn’t tick the box

The content of internal communications can be make or break for engagement levels. Perhaps the tone is too formal, or the copy too boring? Maybe the information is largely irrelevant to most of a team, or the communications are too complex and confusing? Sending too many messages or getting the copy and content wrong is a straight line to disengagement between management and employees. Missing the mark with what and how you communicate risks your employees feeling burnt out by information overload and becoming unsure of what to prioritise.

Understanding what could be going wrong with your internal communications strategy means you’re closer to recognising what you need to do better. Here are a few key areas to start with:

Take stock and strategise

Start with spending some time reviewing where you are with your internal communications.

First off, consider whether your employer brand is fit for purpose? Have you established your style, your communication goals, the objectives that underpin your messaging yet? Your brand is key for external communications of course but the same messaging should translate throughout your internal management and communications. Establish your corporate guidelines clearly and share them across your organisation so that internally and externally your communications mirror your employer brand goals and principles.

Next, look to which platforms or channels you are already using. Have you taken the time to ask your workforce for their feedback on what they want to use and what is working for them? Do you know which of your communications have yielded engagement? Have you been working to a schedule, using guidelines for approval and posting and allocating responsibility to individuals for each piece of content? Have a clear picture of your current internal communications behaviour and use these findings to strip everything down and create a new strategy moving forward. Take on board the employee feedback you’ve received to design this new plan on how to effectively use internal communication channels.

Consider a platform change

Don’t get stuck in using a platform just because it’s what’s always happened. Refer to research and feedback and consider targeting a new or fewer channels – prioritising email or intranet for example. Be sure to focus on the accessibility of each channel. With an increasingly hybrid workforce, it’s key to ensure that each of your employees can access the comms whether working remotely, at home, or in the office. Take time to review the information flows of the channels you choose to work with: are they user-friendly, can information be clearly organised and do they work across the board for your employees?


Rethink your content

When you’re planning your content and copy bear in mind a few key considerations.

Keep your content short.

No one wants to trawl through endless copy to find the point. Be clear, be concise, avoid jargon and lead with your main message up front. Short and snappy headlines help and make sure to mix graphics, imagery and other visual content in with your text copy.

Be honest and authentic.

Your team will engage far more with content that is personal as well as information they can trust. Focusing your communications on local rather than global information will help target your messaging. Keeping your language informal should also make your communications digestible and will relay your messaging in a more engaging way.

Lean into storytelling.

There’s enough business in business. Your internal comms should focus on compelling story telling, personal achievements and celebrating the wins of everyone that you employ, no matter how small. When the news is bad or serious, you’ll have already cultivated a culture of honesty and clarity to make sure those messages are received as well as possible.

Be aware of overwhelm.

Don’t over communicate. Feeling overwhelmed with information is real so limiting how often you send out communications as well as respecting your employee’s personal time is crucial. Put in place a strategy to agree when it’s appropriate to message your team as well as how. Be sure to listen to their feedback on this and grow their trust by respecting boundaries. Consistency is key, communicate with whoever you have in charge of your internal comms strategy to ensure they understand the policy and respect the approval and posting schedule.

Revisit data and stay flexible

Dive into any data you have using your communications channels. It’s invaluable to see which piece of comms your team are engaging with, how, for how long and where. You should be able to review where communications are receiving less engagement and figure out what went wrong.

Take a moment to identify what ‘success’ looks like for your internal communications. How much engagement are you looking for, what kind of frequently of feedback and what is your goal in terms of building company culture? Once you’ve cemented your KPIs, it’s easier to review how to make changes going forward. Be objective, a successful internal comms strategy is not static, you should be constantly evolving your plans, taking on boards wins and losses and fine-tuning as you move forward.

Whatever the size of your business, how you communicate with your team matters. From the frequency you choose to reach out, to the tone and language you use and the channels you send out messaging on. Keeping the strategy around your internal communications at the top of your priority list has the potential to improve employee engagement in the short term, and crucially, to improve your employee retention and overall productivity in the medium and long term.

Making your internal communications more engaging

Susannah Hylands