Eight tips for better internal communications

By Judith Spear
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A company’s internal communications used to consist of a simple, photocopied newsletter. Typically, page one would offer congratulations to Barbara in accounts on completing 25 years’ loyal service, with page two reminding employees to label their food in the staff fridge to prevent further yoghurt theft. Those days have long gone.

Savvy businesses recognise that when done well, internal communications can result in a motivated, engaged and informed workforce, as well as providing an all-important snapshot on the reality of life in their company.

Padua Communications has devised and implemented many successful internal comms plans, so here are some top tips drawing from our experience to help you manage yours.

1. Know your audience

As with all communications, it’s vital to tailor the message to a particular audience. Your employees should (hopefully) be more knowledgeable about your business than any customer or prospect, so bear this is mind when communicating with them. Employees will see through corporate blah in an instant, immediately switching off from the message you’re trying to communicate.

2. Choose your medium wisely

Email might be a great way to stay in touch with your field sales team, all of whom are surgically attached to their smartphones, but it’s a pretty redundant tool when dealing with your warehouse operatives, who might have the opportunity to check their email once a week if they’re lucky.

3. Listen

What do your employees expect in terms of internal comms? Consult with staff first before embarking on an internal comms revamp or you could end up alienating rather than engaging your workforce. Welcome feedback, too. Internal comms is a two-way street and you’re setting yourself up for a fall if you think otherwise.

4. Don’t shy away from tricky subjects

There’s no point in having an internal comms plan if the only thing you’re going to communicate is on-message corporate spiel. Tackling contentious and unpopular topics head-on is the only way to prevent the rumour mill from going into overdrive, and the business will reap the rewards in the long term. An ‘Ask the CEO’ online session is a great way for such issues to be handled in a controlled, open forum.

5. Technology is your friend

Harness the power of email and social media. Too many opportunities are missed because a board member doesn’t recognise the value of social media when it comes to providing a platform for internal communications, and is instead more interested in curtailing the use of Twitter during office hours.

6. The old ways still work

It doesn’t all have to be digital. There’s still a place for printed newsletters and posters, particularly in an age when office-based staff are drowning in emails. A well-placed poster en-route to the company kitchen can be a great deal more effective than an avalanche of intranet posts, social network updates and e-newsletters.

7. Don’t be dull

One of the key aims of an effective internal comms strategy is to engage employees and you’ll only achieve this by issuing interesting content. If you don’t have anything to report one week, don’t feel the need to issue your round-up of company news just because it’s ‘what we always do on a Monday’.

8. Not everyone loves you

You need to develop a thick skin if you’re going to be the one overseeing your company’s internal comms. Of course not all employees will have an undying devotion to your business, and some people will have no qualms about making their complaints known. But, if managed well, you can turn this to your advantage and use this criticism to further inform your communications activities.

For more advice on how to make the most of your internal comms or to have a chat about communications in general, get in touch with the Padua Communications team by calling 0203 282 7570 or drop us a line at [email protected].

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