Every time you send a company-wide Slack announcement to your team, you’re participating in internal communications. When you email the marketing team with new images for socials, that’s internal comms too. Even something as routine as reminding everyone you have Monday off for a holiday counts.
Internal communication is part of every organization and team, whether you have a dedicated strategy or not. The way you share information, gather feedback, and invite discussion influences how your team members feel, engage, and work with each other.
The right internal communications strategy can make collaboration feel seamless. Done well, internal comms should feel effortless, purposeful, and impactful. If you have no strategy or the wrong strategy, any successes could be chalked up to chance. Luckily, a winning strategy is well within your reach.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
- What internal communications is (you do it even if you don’t realize it!)
- Why you need to think strategically about how you talk to your team
- How to improve your team communications in 2023
What is internal communications?
Internal communications is all about keeping your employees informed. It covers everything from the way you break news about company layoffs to getting your team members excited about your upcoming company retreat. At the core, it’s sharing information and company news.
The role of internal communications is to move company information to the people and stakeholders it needs to reach — in the right way, and at the right moment. That could be top-down from the CEO to everyone in the company, between managers, or from employees to the senior leadership team. This makes internal comms a skilled role, as you need to be able to understand your audience, analyze your options, and put a strategic plan in place.
Internal communication happens across different methods and platforms. Some of the most popular include:
- 🌐 Company intranet
- 👋 Face-to-face or virtual meetings
- ⌨️ Forums
- ✉️ Email newsletters
- 👍 Slack channels
- 🎤 Podcasts and video series
- 🏛️ Town hall meetings
- 💗 Internal social media tools
- ❓ Q&A sessions
The goal of internal comms is to advise, inform, and open up a dialogue between different areas of the company. It should be a two-way conversation, with as much focus given on offering opportunities for your employees to respond as is put on crafting the right message. That’s why Slack channels, Q&A sessions, and features like Open Forum are so popular with today’s teams.
Why you need a strategic team communications plan
Your internal communications strategy isn’t something you can slack on (although you could Slack about it). It’s not enough these days to send spontaneous emails about policy updates or company news. The best HR and marketing teams are approaching their team communications with a strategic plan.
The way you share information within a company and how you talk to each other has an impact right across the business. Great internal communication can help create:
- 🤝 Stronger bonds between team members and leadership
- ❌ Fewer opportunities for miscommunication in the workplace
- 😄 Greater employee morale and satisfaction
- 👏 A sense of collaboration and community between remote workers
- ✔️ Increased employee engagement
- 💡 Higher levels of cross-functional collaboration
- 👍 Better employee relations
- 💚 Buy-in for your company culture and values
- 🚪 Higher levels of retention
- 🎉 A more rewarding employee experience
You’re not alone if you don’t have a strong internal communications strategy in place. Research found that 60% of companies didn’t have a long-term internal communications strategy. Without direction, it’s hard to make a difference with the way you share information. Use this as an opportunity to kickstart a new approach.
7 ways to improve your internal communications in 2023
If fixing your internal comms strategy is on your to-do list, we can help. Here are some of the top ways to improve your approach and build a strategy that works for your goals, audience, and culture.
1. Review your current strategy
To make a meaningful change, you first need to evaluate what you already have. Take a look at your current internal communications plan to see what works, what doesn’t, and where you could improve.
You might discover that your company has changed direction since the original strategy, so your audience research or culture fit are out of alignment. You might realize that you’ve been sending weekly emails that don’t get read, when your employees would rather see a daily Slack update. Dig in and review your work so far, so you can set the new direction for what effective internal communication should look like at your company.
2. Set clear goals
Any strategy without a goal feels meaningless. Work with your team to decide what a realistic communication goal would be, and pursue it.
Your internal comms strategy goals should align with your overall business goals.
If you seek to become a powerhouse of productivity and streamlined processes, aim to deliver internal comms to employees in a streamlined way and measure success on metrics like speed of delivery, open rates, and a reduction in time spent in meetings.
If you’re all about building a welcoming culture for your remote teams all around the world, set goals that measure your metrics like engagement levels and employee recognition given.
3. Build a strong team
It’s tough to build and deliver a strong internal communications strategy alone. Look to build a team that can come up with ideas, plan, deliver, and analyze — so you’re always improving. The right team can also advise on employee communication channels, how often to send internal comms, and how you can create a winning strategy.
The right teams for these initiatives have a mix of corporate communication professionals with different backgrounds and skill sets. People with human resources, public relations, journalism, or marketing experience are a great addition.
Sometimes it’s just not possible to recruit and build a specialized team like this. If you’re a team of one, having people you can rely on in other teams to be your cheerleaders can be a huge help. Look for people that engage happily, actively share your content, and are excited by the idea of making people feel connected.
4. Get to know your audience
Building a strong internal communications strategy relies on knowing your audience well. You can’t build success on assumptions — you need to truly understand which methods, communication platforms, frequency, and styles of communication your employees will engage with.
A great way to get to know your internal audience is to spend time with them. Schedule in some fun team building games, play trivia, or host a round of hot takes to understand more about the people you work with. Not only are these moments fun, but they’re a useful tool to help you understand what your frontline employees care about and engage with.
5. Invest in the right tools
Whether you have 25 employees or 2,000, having the right tools can make the difference between your strategy being a success and it struggling to take off. Invest in internal communications tools that help you plan, send, collaborate, and analyze results.
Consider what your goals are, and which platforms and tools you’ll need to reach them. Evaluate different intranet platforms, consider internal social media tools, and look at tools that let you engage in real-time through virtual workspaces or Q&A sessions. Look for tools that have templates you can reuse to save time, notifications you can customize, and experiences that your team members want to engage with.
As you’re shortlisting your internal communications tools, consider Polly. Our internal communications features help you take the pulse of your team so you can create an engaging plan that makes an impact. Share company-wide announcements, invite feedback, host company awards, and promote peer recognition — all from within Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom.
6. Invite and act on feedback
Communication is a two-way activity, and the best internal communicators know how to open up that dialogue company-wide to create a more inclusive work environment. Make feedback part of your process and invite collaboration from everyone.
Polly has plenty of templates and features to help you introduce a system of continuous feedback. Use our meeting feedback template to gather thoughts on your get-togethers, so you can plan an even better meeting next time. Set up a suggestion box or Open Forum where people can drop employee feedback whenever they think of it — and you can reply anonymously in public or in private to these suggestions.
7. Measure your success
Your strategy is only as good as its last initiative, so take the time to review what’s happening and measure your success. With your goals defined, you should know your metrics of success — so check in with these often to make sure you’re on track.
Any good internal communications tool will give you access to data and reports. With Polly, you can enjoy rich results and real-time visualization on demand — with flexible displays, segmentation, and the chance to track changes over time.
Develop a more transparent team culture
What you say, how you say it, and when you say it all influence whether the message gets through or not. Use this guide to help you review, improve, and launch a better way to talk to your team this year.
When it’s time to consider your go-to internal comms tools, make Polly your co-pilot. Our internal communications features give you powerful ways to increase alignment and transparency whether your people WFH, work remotely, or come into the office.
Written by Nicola Scoon
Nicola Scoon is a freelance writer that's passionate about employee engagement and better workplace experiences. She draws on her experience in internal communications to help companies create content that empowers, encourages, and motivates people to create better experiences for all.