Improving Internal Communications in the Workplace and Increasing Staff Engagement

Co-Author: Allison Gross

An internal communications strategy is a necessity for every workplace in order to promote effective dialogue among individuals within an organization. This requires producing and delivering messages and campaigns on behalf of management, as well as facilitating communication with those who make up the organization.

As most of us in the communications field are aware, it is not unusual to see companies that undervalue or neglect internal communications, and their businesses are likely suffering as a result. In fact, research shows that 60% of companies do not have a long-term internal communications strategy. Meanwhile, 74% of employees feel they are missing out on company information and news.

Internal communications engages employees and ensures everyone is focused on what really matters by:

  • Keeping staff informed. Internal communications helps create a sense of transparency and openness, which can build respect among staff. Instead of being kept in the dark, employees should be informed of company updates and activities in a way that gets them involved and invested in the bigger picture.
  • Giving people a holistic view of the organization. Internal communications is often thought of as top-down messaging, written by leaders for employees. But to be beneficial in practice, it’s not about captivating a passive audience with the right messaging; rather, it’s about promoting two-way communication around what’s happening at the organization. People want to feel like their input matters.
  • Building company culture. Each announcement, message, update or leadership correspondence plays a role in how employees understand the organization’s cultural landscape: what it stands for, who it values and why its mission is significant.
  • Encouraging communication among people. Effective internal communications promotes engagement. Employees that feel their voice matters and that their ideas are worth listening to are more likely to go above and beyond when the company needs them.
  • Enduring a crisis. Staff rely on internal communications during a crisis, which is when the morale of the organization could be at stake. Having a communications strategy in place helps to create a setting for difficult conversations. Transparency creates an atmosphere of openness and caring that can help an organization endure tough times.
  • Finding meaning. Internal communications allows employees to find meaning in company values and goals, which in turn can add another fulfilling dimension to their work and boost overall productivity.
  • Creating a channel for feedback, debate and discussion. Internal communications encourages people to share their ideas and feedback and prioritize collaboration among one another.

Internal Communications in the Real World

Vanguard recently helped a Medicaid managed care organization in the District of Columbia enhance its internal communications strategy. Through this experience, we learned several great takeaways that can help other organizations improve their own strategy:

  • Keep your audience in mind. Whether you’re talking to leadership or advising staff, it’s important to keep in mind that the communication shouldn’t be about what you want. It should be about what your audience wants.
  • Invest time and energy into your internal newsletter. An informative and well-designed newsletter will help employees learn new information about your organization and emphasize your organization’s culture and values. We surveyed our client’s employees to see exactly the type of content and format they are seeking.
  • Start an internal communications committee. Members can be tasked with providing updates on major initiatives and upcoming celebrations (like birthdays and work anniversaries) so they can be properly celebrated at company-wide meetings and/or events.
  • Create a virtual suggestion box. Ideas for internal communications initiatives can and should come from all levels of the organization. Creating a virtual suggestion box can empower anyone to step up and propose new ideas to keep your organization connected.
  • Reduce all staff emails. Sometimes less can be more. Sending too many emails means employees will ignore some of your messages. If you’re continually emailing FYIs, messages are more likely to go unread.

No matter the size of your organization, your company’s mission or the industry you are in, internal communications is a critical component of a workplace that helps to keep staff engaged and involved.