Internal communication is the art and science of communicating with your employees, customers, and partners within the organization. It involves using various channels - such as emails, newsletters, intranet sites, conferences, and social platforms - to share important updates and messages that are pertinent to the company’s success.
The goal of internal communications is twofold: to keep the business running smoothly, and to maintain a positive culture within your organization.
The first one is somewhat easy to achieve. The plethora of available communication channels make it easy to stay productive, even if teams are working remotely.
Remote work took off during the pandemic, so it's not like companies had time to prepare for it. But productivity stayed equal or increased, which means that that part of internal communications was (more or less) successful.
What did suffer, however, was employee engagement and the feeling of connectedness and inclusion.
The Role of Internal Communication in Organizational Culture
It makes sense that internal communication has an invaluable role to play in helping your employees feel connected and valued.
After all, how can they be engaged if they don’t know what is going on in the company? How do they feel part of something bigger if they are not being kept up to date with news and initiatives? And how would you trust someone you’ve never met or heard from?
But this is relatively fresh ground for many organizations. Most internal communication strategies were designed with productivity in mind, not culture.
And in traditional office settings that made sense. People would often be around each other and could share news, discuss ideas, and form relationships with ease - there was no need to structure the process.
But with remote work, companies must actively create a sense of connectedness and collaboration between their employees. This is where internal communication can make all the difference.
So let’s explore five best practices that you can use to strengthen your company culture through internal communications.
1. Use messaging to encourage community and collaboration
We spend much of our lives at work. It’s natural to crave a “pro-people” environment there, too.
One way to accomplish this is by leveraging messaging tools and channels to help reduce friction and connect across teams, departments, and borders.
So-called "watercooler chats" used to be the main way that employees interacted with each other in an informal manner - and that's the one that builds bonds.
But now, when these scenarios are no longer possible, using a messaging tool specifically designed for internal conversations can help recreate that feeling and encourage employees to interact with each other in an informal setting.
When workers can talk freely and cultivate meaningful connections using company-approved communications, it naturally builds a strong sense of community.
So finding channels that can fill the gap in human interaction is the first step to winning at internal communication when it comes to culture.
2. Create a direct communication line between leadership and employees
Communication can no longer be only top-down. Employees expect more than just directives and announcements from their leaders.
If you want them to buy into your vision and mission, and truly feel connected to the organization, you need to make sure that there’s a two-way communication line open between leadership and employees.
This again can be more tricky in remote work settings, but by leveraging the right channels, you can make sure that everyone’s voices are heard.
Leadership can achieve this by implementing engagement apps, social intranets, or other forms of internal networks designed for peer-to-peer communication.
Not only does this create an open dialogue between employees and leaders, but it also gives employees more visibility into what’s going on in the organization.
These initiatives help employees feel like they are truly part of something bigger – and that’s invaluable when it comes to forming a strong corporate culture.
3. Empower employees with internal resources and activities
Employees are not just workers. They are learners, mentors, achievers, and wellness seekers. They want to grow professionally and personally, as well as have fun along the way.
That’s why it’s essential to empower employees with internal resources and activities that can help them develop their skills, knowledge, and well-being.
This can be done in a variety of ways - from creating virtual resource hubs where they can access training and materials, to fully structured employee learning programs.
The key is to make sure these initiatives are engaging and meaningful so that employees feel like they’re really growing in their roles and careers.
4. Utilize technology to celebrate successes and achievements
One key element of company culture is recognition and reward.
It’s essential to celebrate successes, recognize milestones, and thank employees for their hard work. This not only shows that you value their contributions but also boosts motivation and morale.
But how do you do this in a remote setting?
The answer is to utilize technology. From virtual awards ceremonies to online celebrations and shout-outs, there are many ways to recognize employees for their hard work - even when you’re not all in the same room.
These efforts can go a long way in instilling an atmosphere of appreciation and support, which will help strengthen your company culture over time.
5. Collect employee feedback and track progress
Internal communications are not a one-time event. They are an ongoing process that requires constant evaluation and improvement. You need to measure the effectiveness of your internal communications and how they impact your company culture and business results.
That’s why it’s so important to collect employee feedback and track progress. This can be done through surveys, polls, and interviews - but also via built-in analytics from your internal communications solutions.
By collecting feedback and tracking progress, you can identify areas for improvement and easily optimize your strategy if needed. Doing so will ensure that your internal communications remain effective - and that your company culture continues to grow in the right direction.
Internal communications are a powerful tool to create and strengthen your company culture. By following these five best practices, you can communicate with your employees in a way that fosters trust and collaboration and empowers them to do their best work.
It may take some time and effort to set up the right channels and processes, but the results will be worth it in the long run.
Internal communications can make or break your company culture. The choice is yours.