Why internal comms is so important

There was a time when internal comms was an afterthought. A follow up. A tick box even. And probably part of a HR remit rather than marketing or communications. But now more than ever it is a financially measurable business strategy, a priority in the comms matrix and something that needs to come first in a storytelling sequence, not somewhere trailing behind…

February 22, 2023
Kathryn Race
employee engagement
February 22, 2023
Kathryn Race

Because your staff are your best ambassadors, trust and a sense of feeling valued are critical for people to stay with an employer, and to encourage others to join. And, as ways of working change, it is vital that teams working remotely (both full and as a hybrid model) are kept informed and involved in what is happening within the organisation, to ensure overall success at every level. Visible leadership in tough times for us all is a key differential to show a business is both open and in control.

Yet a recent report from consultants ‘Oak Engage’ found that 37% of internal communicators believe their biggest challenge is a lack of awareness of the value of internal communication at an executive level, and that 46% see poor internal comms as having an impact on low morale and staff departures.

And we all know, nothing grates more in life than finding out things after the fact. Or feeling left in the dark.

So, if your internal comms aren’t a strategic focus yet, that needs fixing pretty quickly, and the rewards that can follow are rich.

       Building pride that can boost productivity

•       preventing disruption to teams, customers, and culture with a clearer staff retention focus

•       unlocking innovation from within

•       listening to challenges

•       maintaining calm and understanding in tough times

•       helping your teams tell your story (and the right story) on their personal social media channels for the most authentic form of storytelling.

Getting it right needs strategic thought and the building of a model that can work smoothly as part of the day-to-day business, but there are some core principles to work around.

1. Plan your content just as you would with anything you would plan to share externally

Having a content pillar approach, in the same way you would for external comms or a social flow, is hugely valuable to make sure the right topics have the right level of sharing and focus - and the right storyteller owners.

Don’t miss the balance of what the company wants to share and what the team needs to hear. It can’t be just push down news sharing, important as that is as part of the mix.

2. Make it human

People respond to people. Bring in different storytellers from around the business to show a rounded, authentic approach.

Celebrating small successes as well as big, learnings from sales teams, customer service trends, or competitor insights can help everyone in multiple teams see the one business pulling together and the championing of personal contribution.

Internal comms should happen in the round and should be cultural, bringing the community to life.

3. Think about formats

We mentioned the importance of visible leadership and that of course means face to face communications, making the time to talk to people at an accessible level, not just defaulting to good written comms. The latter format is valuable but shouldn’t be the only channel in use. Celebration and positivity and leadership is of course a three-dimensional world.

As with any strategy, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and many factors come into play from company size to team locations, to considerations of team ages and the channels that work best for different profiles.

But there is one core, standard start point.

And that is the importance of listening and finding a form of audit that works for your business to hear what the team would like, use and value on content, format and frequency. Talk, ask, interview and review.

The findings help land the right model for the day-to-day, for onboarding new team members, and for managing reputation across the business. Front foot and open approaches always trump the rumour mill alternative. As with any storytelling, and indeed with any comms, theories without action plans, measurable goals or the listening phase may miss the right context in which to land. Or the business benefits that have never been more important to secure.

For help creating or rebooting your current approach or managing the audit stage and recommendations that would come from that, talk to us around the opportunities and any barriers that you might see.