Internal Communication System: Backbone of Business
The Internal communication system: bread and butter of all companies that value connectivity and alignment within the workplace.
These days you can find internal communication systems in any industry, company or organisation - regardless of its size. Internal communication is such a big deal in fact, that large corporations have entire teams dedicated to perfecting internal communications processes or concocting the most effective internal communication plan. Operating behind the scenes as the metaphorical glue that holds everything together, these systems are a familiar face within the professional sphere: intranet software, digital workplace, HR system, employee engagement app - you name it, this particular type of software comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, each specialising in their own particular niche. Internal communication software is by and large one of the most common types of software within the modern workplace, replacing the need for email and other 'old-hack' methods of communication.
But why are businesses so caught up in improving internal communication? Recent research shows that companies with as few as 100 employees:
- Spent 17 hours a week clarifying discrepancies
- Lost £404,500 due to poor communication
- Wait 3.5 hours a week waiting on information
- Experience difficulties coordinating communication
Bad communication can financially cripple the best of companies, so it’s important that you get it right. Over the course of the past year, the internal communication system has proved itself invaluable to companies around the world, encouraging sustainability through what is a relatively unstable and uncertain time. With an influx of workers now working from home for the foreseeable future, internal communication systems are for many, a lifeline that connects their people to their business - wherever they may be. Effective internal communication is integral to the day to day processes of any business, so it’s essential that companies have the internal communication tools necessary to stand up to the task at hand, not to mention an effective internal communications plan to back it up.
Whilst an internal communication system may be one of the best ways for businesses to stay connected, many simply don’t know how to get the most out of them. With the deskless disconnect coming more and more prominent as the workplace becomes increasingly digital, keeping your employees engaged, motivated and satisfied are becoming an increasingly crucial set of responsibilities.
1. Value of Your Internal Communication System
Before we delve into the do’s and don'ts of internal comms systems, you should begin by uncovering what’s important to your business. In what capacity can internal communications software help you and your company achieve your objectives? By taking a look at the bigger picture, you'll find it much easier to identify how you can leverage your internal communications process to get the results you need.
On the surface, an internal communication system may sound fairly one dimensional, when in reality, they offer a much more comprehensive and immersive workplace experience. From employee engagement to employee wellbeing, internal communication systems offer a variety of functionalities designed to deliver a multi-faceted digital experience. It is however, absolutely crucial that you don't become overwhelmed, or even distracted by why you really need an internal communications system in the first place.
Whilst many systems offer an array of great features and bewildering functionalities, it's important that you don't lose sight of your initial goal. Use only what you need - then diversify. It's up to you and your team to decipher what you want to get out of your system and how you can use to help achieve your internal communication objectives.
2. Simplicity, Visibility, Relevancy
One of the main things you'll be using your internal communication system for will be to - yep, you guessed it - communicate. In theory, it sounds straightforward; after all we communicate every day, right? Well, you would be surprised. In every day life, we often talk to people that are happy to oblige our conversations. They are receptive to what we have to say and more often than not, feel inclined to contribute back (most of the time anyway!).
When communicating in a business context, however, people aren't always so keen to engage in the conversation. The workplace is a busy place - messages, communication and notifications are constant. It becomes easy for employees to become desensitised to their surroundings, making our job as internal communication experts that little bit harder.
Thankfully, there are ways of cutting through the mix. Providing you follow these rules, of course! One of the fundamental rules of communication: keep it simple. Don’t make things unnecessarily complicated and make sure that your comms are as accessible and as visible as possible. Whether that’s through strategic timing or even implementing mandatory reads on certain comms, it’s important that every message from your internal communication system has a methodology behind it.
There should be a thought process that determines when your messaging will get the most engagement and how it can be best received. Just like you would if you were marketing communications to a target audience, it’s essential that the messages that you distribute resonate with your readers in the right way. Your people are your demographic, so make sure that you only ever produce communications that provide value to them and offer an incentive to engage.
3. Integrating Feedback Into Your Comms Plan
How can you make sure that your internal communications process is translating well with your audience? Simply ask for their input in the first place! By keeping your ear to the ground you’ll be able to listen to what employees feel is most important to their success and what it is that’s holding them back.
Hear directly from the horse's mouth the best way to address potential communication problems or even learn how you can better utilise your internal communications system. By integrating employee feedback into your ongoing internal communication plan, your people will be able to directly influence its operation, content and ultimately its reception. People are much more likely to be responsive to something that they helped to create.
4. Keep The Conversation Flowing
Traditionally, the internal communication process within the workplace flows down - rather than in a circular, self-reflective motion. For the most part, communication has been a one-way street in which leaders delegate, instruct and task their subordinates. This style of communication, however, is (quite rightly) being abandoned in favour of a more balanced approach that puts both the employee and manager at more of an even standing. Understandably, employees aren’t too enthused at the prospect of having to endure top-down engagement. It reduces their voice, their autonomy and their overall sense of importance.
To ensure that your internal communication plan has longevity, it’s important to make sure that everyone involved has the opportunity to say their bit. Internal communication systems are unique in the respect that they champion two way (if not more) communication. They encourage employees to interact, engage and express their thoughts by their very design. Your people are able to respond to communications and offer their expertise where needed. This efficient top down style of communication makes for a productive workplace environment in which employees feel valued, engaged and included.
5. Be Driven by Data
Whatever techniques you use to improve your internal communication process, it's important that you track and monitor your progress. Many systems include integrated data packages, enabling you and your team to see what is getting the most engagement, interactions and more. By being able to reflect on your past efforts you can see how to best adapt your internal communications strategy for the future and evolve your approach.
Your internal communication system has the potential to be an absolute game changer for your business. If not handled in the correct manner, however, it can prove onerous, confusing and at worst, counterproductive. Great internal communication can be what separates you from the competition, helping you to be more productive, efficient and agile. This is always, however, a result of meticulous planning, know-how and determination.
When tackling an issue as big as improving the internal communication process within your business, it pays to have a strong internal communication plan. And an even stronger internal communication system to boot.