Six tips on how to rethink internal communication

Urs Wermelinger
22.11.19 18:16

Six tips on how to rethink internal communication and increase employee engagement with an improved digital employee experience.

In times of transformation, internal communication is the glue that holds companies together. No wonder, then, that the importance of internal communication and the number of employees involved is constantly growing.

Internal communication creates culture

GenZ and Millennials are also looking for companies that match their values, commitments and objectives. It is not surprising, though, that HR managers see culture and employee engagement as their most important challenges.

What's the best way to do it? By practicing what you preach yourself and incorporating culture and corporate values into internal communication. The following tips highlight 6 important aspects of how internal communication becomes a strategic element of change management in times of transformation.

1) The difference between external and internal communication disappears.

Internal and external communication are inextricably linked and both target groups must be perfectly coordinated in terms of timing, message design and choice of communication channels. This requires a reliable internal channel that can be controlled and measured, that is fast, that reaches all employees wherever they are, and that allows content (text, documents, videos) to be easily reused and tailored to internal audiences, roles or offices.

In times of great change, many companies realize that while they have spent large sums on agencies, content and campaigns for their external communications, they have not given internal audiences the same care, frequency and modern digital tools.

For internal communication to unfold its potential, it must be seen as an integral part of corporate communication, strategically planned and provided with the necessary resources (financial and technological). Internal corporate platforms such as intranets therefore mutate into "Envolvement" platforms for employees and corporate management, which follow the same laws as multi-channel communication for customers, and are even partially integrated into them when it comes to technical implementation or campaign timing.

Background: Global levels of employee engagement and commitment are still less than 30%, which means that organizations have a wealth of untapped talent being wasted, and
in the worst case scenario, draining company resources. There’s serious room for improvement.
The Global Employee Engagement Index™ provides multinationals with data-driven insight that shows how employee engagement and commitment are essential ingredients in creating a culture of performance and productivity.

Percentage of engaged employees europe 2018 EN

2) Employees as content creators with maximum credibility

Not least due to the generation of digital natives and GenZ and the extensive use of social-sharing apps and instant peer-to-peer communication programs in the private sector, employees are becoming one of the most important opinion-forming voices within companies. That's why you deserve your own channel to share thoughts or news that are in the corporate context. These colleague voices are not only more authentic than any executive, they are also much more immediate when it comes to sharing customer opinions, sales successes or support issues.

The transformation of your employees into Content Creators supports the ongoing decentralization at the workplace and adds a peer-to-peer level to the top-down culture in communication.

To encourage your employees to share and participate, your internal communication channels should focus on distributing content that directly affects and interests them (which is all the more likely when it comes from peers). You can also make communication interactive by activating comments, approvals and the like.

3) Work from anywhere, read anywhere!

"Mobile first" increasingly also means the involvement of external employees. The trend towards more freelancers and the growing geek economy is shifting the boundaries of internal communication outside your own firewall. Mobile applications are therefore not only trendy, but obligatory.

GenZ or Millennials know from their private experience a world without emails and rely on instant messages and consume information and news when and where they have time. Push messages and read confirmations ensure completeness of the information paths and at the same time avoid "email overload" at the source.

Background:Why the role of internal communication is becoming increasingly important? The German "Social Collaboration Study" shows 10 good reasons, which results depend decisively on social collaboration and internal communication.

social collaboration maturity

4) Frontline employees are your poster card!

For a long time, internal communication systems focused primarily on so-called "knowledge workers", i.e. employees who were directly connected to their own intranets and relevant processes via PCs or tablets. The advancing digitalization, networking and use of high-performance smartphones are now expanding the focus to all employees, even those without PC or corporate network access. In many cases, it is precisely these employees who have the important first customer contact or receive initial feedback on products or services.

Shop assistants, sales representatives, employees on construction sites or in factories are thus involved in business processes and internal communication in real time - simply via your own smartphone or tablet. This gives you direct access to help, training and the latest news directly in your work with customers, without having to wait for periodic information or training events.

Modern internal communication via mobile apps enables all social organisations such as associations to communicate with their members, opens up a secure way for schools to communicate with pupils and their parents or even universities to communicate with their students and lecturers - secure, modern, real-time and always on the smartphone.

5) Measuring what is read - Understanding what is going on.

Measuring internal communication and employee engagement is difficult, but as these two issues become increasingly important, it is also necessary to accurately measure their effectiveness and return on investment. Measuring criteria not only document usage and reach, they also serve to convince internal decision-makers of the importance of a topic and to understand the interests of employees better and, above all, much faster.

Background: More engaged employees yield a great deal for the company. The renowned Gallup Institute regularly surveys American companies on the added value of commitment, but also employees on the degree of commitment, which is probably surprisingly low. Time to act!

Value of engagement 3 EN

6) Prevent poor communication: A business case that pays off.

Mobile apps for employees are becoming increasingly popular and are reinventing internal communication. In order to remain competitive in the digital age, the reach and performance of mobile devices must be used to motivate employees. If companies want to reach their employees, they must switch to the channel they use.

The business case in favor of mobile employee apps for professional internal communication pays-off very quickly:

  1. Reduce risk and improve customer satisfaction: Timely information reduces the risk of important, sometimes even health-relevant information reaching employees and customers late or not at all. Well-informed employees are better prepared for the unforeseen or can ask colleagues directly.
  2. Increase profits with higher productivity: Inefficiency is the result of time-consuming activities that impact employee productivity and workflows, such as searching for information already available and performing unwanted administrative tasks (vacation requests, submitting expense forms, filling out timesheets, etc.). Several studies confirm that, on average, employees spend 20 percent of their working time searching for and collecting the information they need to do their job effectively. Mobile intranet solutions have the potential to eliminate much of this inefficiency.
  3. Save time in recruiting, training and retaining employees: HR teams spend valuable time and energy in recruitment processes, and the loss of an employee means not only a loss of knowledge and workplace skills, but also a loss of productivity, as new appointments to a position can take 2-3 months on average, and every day with a vacancy costs money. Mobile intranet solutions also promise improvements here: Well-informed employees recommend vacancies more frequently to colleagues, friends and acquaintances, new employees can be onboarded and trained faster through integrated HR processes, and last but not least, committed employees are much less at risk of leaving the company according to studies.
  4. Cost savings in change processes: Change has become a constant in the business environment. Digitalisation, reorganisations, mergers and acquisitions or other changes in organisations cost time and money and demand adaptability from employees. Carefully implemented internal communication helps to reduce resistance, avoid costs due to wrong decisions and celebrate progress together in order to significantly increase employee identification.
Rethink internal communications

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