Internal communications hasn’t always been given the love and respect it deserves in many large organizations. Equally as important as external communications, it has often suffered from perceptions that it’s not as interesting, not as glamorous, not as exciting and not as important as external communications.
In fact, internal communication is often not prioritized in any way. In some instances companies ignore it entirely, and in others its carried out as an after-thought at best.
Poor internal communication is bad for business. Employees who aren’t engaged are more likely to leave the company, and cost you more money in terms of recruitment and training new employees. Employees who don’t understand their role or the company’s goals and objectives don’t perform as well as they could, and productivity and profitability is affected.
Poor internal communication can also lead to costly mistakes including financial losses, legal costs and reputational damage.
According to Nextiva’s The State of Business Communication 2020 report, one in three companies say they have lost a customer as a result of poor internal communication, while another 30 % of survey respondents said they had missed an important deadline.
Getting effective internal communications right in 2020
Thankfully, in recent years, we’ve seen a trend where many organizations are waking up to the importance of good internal communication and have been investing time, people and other resources in getting it right.
64 % of communicators who responded to the Gatehouse State of the Sector report said that communicating their organization’s values, strategy and purpose is a key priority.
This is a great start… other things we can learn from recent research to guide internal communication include:
1. Getting senior management on board
Internal communication needs to be embraced from the top down in order to be most effective. Unfortunately in some organizations there’s still a reluctance from leadership to embrace it.
Only 72 % of respondents to the 2019 Gatehouse survey said they thought leaders saw effective internal communication as a key driver of engagement – down from 75 % in 2018. Only 68 % of respondents thought leadership in their organizations viewed internal communicators as trusted advisers.
To show the impact of internal communications on the organization's success, you need to know how to measure your activity results. For this, please read our article on the internal communications KPIs and download the free internal communications measurement template.
2. Stop trying to wing it
Without a plan, you can’t clearly explain to leadership what you are trying to achieve in the internal communications space, nor do you have a clear roadmap to follow to carry out your objectives. This is a big problem in many organizations as they lack a formalized internal communications strategy: the Gatehouse report found 21 % of internal communicators don’t employ any form of formal planning.
Stop guessing what you’re doing next year and develop a comprehensive internal communication strategy and action plan. For example, companies with the best internal communication strategies use a range of tools to communicate across different channels. One option to adopt to achieve this in 2020 could be DeskAlerts, letting you communicate with employees quickly in a variety of ways.
3. Work to improve engagement
How engaged are your employees? According to research by Qualtrics in 2019, only 62 % of employees in the United States say they are engaged at work. It’s not so good in other countries… in the United Kingdom that figure is 48 %, in Australia it’s 56 % and in Hong Kong it’s 42 %.
This highlights that much more work can be done in most organizations to improve engagement through internal communication tactics and therefore improve outcomes.
4. Ditch unnecessary emails
The Nextiva report found that 53 % of employees found that email is a “black hole” for communication. With the average office worker receiving around 121 emails every day, this medium is completely overused and overwhelming for employees. In fact 16 % of employees said they miss important communication that’s been sent via email, and six % said the number of emails in their inboxes overwhelms them.
5. Embrace digital disruption
Digital disruption has affected many industries, and within companies it even affect the way we do things. For example, the Nextiva report identified that desk phones in the work place aren’t as popular as they used to be: just 60 % of employees say they use them at least once a week, while 88 % of employees use a cell phone for work purposes at least once a week.
Are you making the most of cellphones, tablets and computers to deliver internal communications material to your employees?
6. Get rid of jargon
Even if you send information out in a timely manner to your employees, it’s not much use if they can’t understand what you’re saying to them. Unfortunately in 2019 a lot of corporate information still suffers from being written in technical language that is difficult to understand.
Miscommunication because of complicated or ambiguous writing can lead to misunderstandings and errors being made. And depending on the sector you work in, it can lead to financial losses, or even loss of life.
7. The rise of remote employees and their communication needs
Your employees aren’t always located in the same office building… but in 2019 the number of employees working out of a corporate office at all has declined. According to Nextiva, 38 % of companies have staff working remotely from home while with a further 25 % catering to employees who are on-the-go.
Keeping these employees informed and engaged can be challenging seeing as many of the traditional tools (face to face staff meetings, emails) aren’t always going to be effective. Embrace new technology, such as DeskAlerts, to reach your people no matter where they are located.
8. Get feedback from your employees
Lack of employee feedback is a very common mistake internal communicators make. Very simply, your people are the best source of information on virtually any aspect of your company’s operations, and if you aren’t getting that information from them then you’re missing out big time. They know what’s working and what isn’t working. By listening to them you can identify issues and make appropriate improvements.
Are you ready to hit the ground running with effective internal communications in 2020?
Download our FREE whitepaper to find out practical steps you can take to make improvements in all of these areas so that your workforce gets the decade off to a great start and is informed, engaged, happy and productive.