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What is Internal Communication and why should you care?

By Anthony Monks

 

What is Internal Communication and why should you care?

Getting Internal Communication right in an organisation can be mission critical. You only need to look as far as disgruntled Twitter employees about the recent take over by Elon Musk and the sacking of 800 P&O employees through a video message, to get a picture of how not to keep employees informed.

The responsibility for communicating internal messages usually starts from the person(s) at the top,  and is delegated down through the management structure. This is where, if not managed correctly, messages become diluted and misconstrued as senior management are the ones that end up creating, delivering and, hopefully, evaluating the success of what they are communicating to their teams and the rest of the organisation.

As organisations grow and develop, whether organically, through a merger or acquisition, they grow their headcount and might also end up being spread across multiple offices and locations. They might have to adapt to new ways of working - such as the “new normal” of hybrid / remote working. The one constant is change, and during periods of change communication must be efficient and effective. 

This is where Internal Communication comes into play. But what exactly is it? And why should businesses care? 

 

What is Internal Communication?

Internal Communication involves using every suitable method available to the businesses that allows it to speak to and listen to employees. 

This management function is a relatively new discipline and has only been studied at an academic level for the past 30 years. It includes elements from Corporate Communication, PR, Marketing, Communications, HR and Corporate Governance. It is the collection of all possible interactions and exchange of messages which occurs between an organisation and its employees. 

These interactions happen in a multitude of different places and ways, both on and offline and can happen during and out of standard operating hours.

One goal for Internal Communication is to create a shared understanding between a business and its employees. It does this by motivating employees, at every level, to understand how their work contributes towards the delivery of the business objectives, its mission, vision and how they contribute to the values of the business. 

 

Should my business care?

Internal Communication impacts every single employee, at every level and as organisations become less bureaucratic and more employee-centric, getting Internal Communication right should be a top priority for senior leaders.

Why? Because getting it right can ensure employees feel part of the organisation and ensure that their voice is heard. A view supported by organisations, such as the Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD).

It is essential that a business communicates the right message, at the right time, so that employees at all levels - from C-level to junior members - understand what is happening, what is expected of them, and why it is happening. 

Strategic Internal Communication ensures that organisations are selecting the right method, channel, and timing for the messages they are communicating. 

If employees are to feel engaged within the workplace and inspired to give their very best, they have to see that their views are respected, or at the very least be provided with a platform for their views to be heard. Internal Communication does just that, as well as helping everyone understand how they individually contribute towards company objectives, mission, vision and values.

 

Why should you pay attention to Internal Communication?

 

1.  It ensures your employees know what’s going on (and why)

Internal Communication helps all employees to understand how their role contributes to the business and why they have an important role to play. 

If there is not a regular flow of accurate communication, conveying essential information that employees trust and can interact with, organisations risk their employees feeling disconnected from the business - which if left unchecked can manifest to an “us and them” culture. 

 

2. It enhances the employee experience 

Every company wants inspired, passionate staff who care about their jobs. Every organisation wants employees to be motivated, enthusiastic and to give their all to their role. In short, an engaged employee is an incredible asset to an organisation. 

Engaged employees often feel empowered, involved, emotionally attached and dedicated to the organisation. They are excited and proud to be part of what it is achieving.

 

3. It keeps employees calm during times of change and crisis

Internal Communication helps organisations to provide essential information and reassurance to employees who may be feeling uneasy with a changing situation. 

Internal Communication also allows organisations to seek feedback from employees and then, crucially, act upon it. Addressing employee concerns and questions helps to alleviate any concerns employees have and demonstrates that their voices are heard. 

 

4. It develops a strong culture 

Organisational culture is the sum of its parts and effective Internal Communication not only takes this into account, but it can make it stronger. 

Internal communication is an essential tool for creating and fostering a culture of transparency between all levels of management and employees. through supporting productive interactions with employees and gaining feedback. Transparency builds trust and credibility between employees and senior leaders.

 

5. It empowers management 

Mid-level managers are arguably one of the most squeezed, yet crucial stakeholders when it comes to influencing and delivering effective Internal Communication. 

They are ‘on the front line’ with both junior and senior employees, so by providing mid-level managers with the right communication methods and support they themselves can feel engaged. This knowledge and support enhances their own communication skills, increasing trust levels and rapport both up and down the organisational ladder.

With a clear Internal Communication strategy in place, middle managers can come into their own and help to enhance the employee experience, becoming respected, transparent and trusted leaders. 

 

Internal Communication is here to stay

Internal Communication takes careful thought, planning and understanding. It should be a consideration for every action an organisation takes.

Are you paying attention to your Internal Communication?