4 Steps to Develop an Engaging Internal Communications Strategy
Whether you lead a small business of 15 employees or have 1,000-plus employees working in several different offices throughout the country, implementing a strategic internal communication plan will help you have a more satisfied and educated workforce. However, many companies struggle with implementing a thoughtful and long-standing plan.
Follow these four steps to develop a communication plan that works for you:
1 – Assess current and future environments
Before you can put together your plan, you have to understand your current environment. What do your employees think are your organizational goals, mission and core values? Do they have a good understanding of your customers? What questions are being asked around the water cooler?
In addition to the current environment, it is important to keep the future in mind when developing your communication plan. What will the company look like in five years, 10 years or even tomorrow? Maybe you envision acquiring new business, expanding nationally or developing new products and services. How will your plan accommodate these big changes?
2 – Define goals
Now that you have a good understanding of your business environment, it’s time to define goals. Defining goals for internal communication strategies can be tricky as in many cases you will not see a direct correlation between your efforts and the bottom line. However, having defined goals in mind at the start will help ensure your plan is working, while performing monthly or quarterly health checks will allow you to reevaluate tactics as needed.
Below are three examples of definable goals:
Employee Retention – A good internal communication plan should alleviate a lot of confusion and possible frustration employees have about the direction and culture of a company. Keeping employees informed and involved equals happier, more invested employees, which helps your bottom line in the end.
Quality Assurance – How many QA or safety incidents did you have before you implemented your plan versus a year after? Are there increases in one department over another?
Satisfaction – Incorporate a satisfaction survey into your plan. Quarterly or annual satisfaction check-ins will help you determine how employees are feeling, their pain points and where there are opportunities to strengthen your internal communication plan.
When setting your goals, make sure to use SMART objectives:
- Specific – what are you going to do and to whom?
- Measurable – how can you measure it?
- Attainable – can it be achieved with the resources and time provided?
- Relevant – how does this goal affect or tie into your overall company culture?
- Time-bound – is there an end date and how many times will you assess progress?
3 – Define Your Audience and Messaging
You’d never begin an external marketing campaign without a good assessment of your target audience, right? Similarly, developing an internal communication plan involves fully understanding who your internal audience is.
Employees today are becoming more and more diverse; different backgrounds, cultures, and technology expertise all work together in one organization and all interpret messages differently. How you design your message for your senior management team should be different than how you relay your message to your frontline staff. Segmenting your internal audience requires a focused understanding of your employees and designed messaging to reach each group.
4 – Determine Channels
How your employees receive the message is just as important as what the message is. For example, emails about an important change or restructuring may create an alarm among employees, even when written to convey positive growth, while a daily or weekly all-staff meeting may become burdensome for those same employees. Determining how you will distribute messages and which audiences requires more strategic thought.
Some communication mechanisms include:
- In-person, face-to-face communication such as small department meetings, large town halls or individual check-ins, provides a more intimate connection and allows people to ask questions.
- Email and intranet allow you to create a mass message industrywide. These can be expected company updates, news or highlights. Tools can be used to pull in data on how many and who opened, spent time on the page/email and clicked through to secondary messages.
- Paper, including memos, handouts, internal newspapers and magazines, provides employees with a more permanent piece they can hold, read and take home.
- Video is great for sending out an exciting announcement or introducing a new service. Video can be the most captivating medium to get messages across.
- Social media helps build company culture when you have multiple locations throughout the region.
- Phone via pre-recorded all-staff messages can be a great way to hear from leadership when in-person isn’t possible, and email is too informal.
Internal communication plans are one of the most important strategies businesses can implement, unfortunately, it is also one of the most overlooked. Don’t be one of the millions of companies each year that loses good staff due to poor communication. Make 2019 a year of great employee communication by following these easy tips!
Pro tip: Want more audience engagement? Make it fun!
- Highlight a team member each month. This helps people to get to know one another and learn new talents, interests and hobbies of their co-workers
- Give recognition on a successful project. Not only will the team/individual feel rewarded for the special call-out, but your staff may learn about new skills or capability within your organization.
- Provide monthly fun facts about your company or make it into a monthly trivia challenge.