Want to spruce up your comms strategy with some great internal communications examples? Our Gurus have gotten together to come up with this ultimate list of ideas. But first, we need to look at why getting your internal comms right is so important in the first place.
There is a mountain of evidence to demonstrate the link between great internal comms and high operational performance. It stands to reason: employees who understand the purpose, vision, values and strategy of their employer, and who are on board with these, are more likely to contribute and perform with true motivation and real commitment than those who are kept in the dark.
Deloitte found that 73% of employees who say they work for an organisation with clear purpose are engaged, compared to 23% of those who don’t.
Employees who feel appreciated and listened to, and a genuine sense of belonging, will reward their employers with loyalty and hard work. And leaders and managers who know how their people are feeling and what they are thinking are far better equipped to tackle issues, address concerns and maintain (or build on) successful strategies than those who aren’t listening.
So, we know the theory. We believe the stats. But what does it mean in practice? What does good internal comms actually look like? What can we do to improve our internal comms so that our engagement scores are boosted, our people are happier, better connected and fully informed, and our productivity is maximised?
With that in mind, we present to you 35 internal communications examples - things organisations like yours can do to improve their internal comms. Some are small changes; some require a little more work. But any and all of them will help you in your quest for a more connected and more engaged workforce.
Our Guru’s examples of great internal comms
The big picture
Have a clear comms strategy
A pretty obvious place to start! But, whilst the scale, scope and complexity of your comms strategy will depend on the size and complexity of your organisation, to not have any sort of comms strategy is hugely unwise. Effective communication across your organisation is essential for business success, and these days of disparate and dispersed workforces, with differing hours and split shifts, makes having a strategy to reach them all more important than ever.
And, just as no two companies are exactly the same, nor will comms strategies. This really does need to be bespoke to you and aligned with your business outcomes and staffing structure.
Health-check your comms
If you have an internal comms strategy and varied channels in place, are you confident that it’s all working for you as it should? If you are aware of issues or blockages with your comms reaching all of their intended recipients, then you should carry out or arrange for a health check. Or, if your business set-up has been altered by the pandemic, then a health check could provide some really useful insights into the way forward from here.
Measure the success of your comms
You measure the success of most of your business outputs on an ongoing basis, but do you ever measure the success of your internal comms? Depending on your tech’ setup and your comms channels, you may be able to view which news articles or posts are being opened, liked and shared, which is a good place to start.
Different from the one-off (or very occasional) health check mentioned above, there are various tools available to you to help you measure the success of your comms, from pulse surveys to careful analysis of your comms channel matrix. Your inputs, outputs, reach and reactions, and outcomes need some attention if you are to do this effectively.
Consider Inclusivity & Diversity for all comms
According to Glassdoor, two-thirds of job seekers said that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating future employers and job offers. The same survey revealed that well over half of employees think that their company should be doing more to increase diversity in its workforce. And according to Market Watch, companies with diverse staff are better positioned to meet the needs of diverse customer bases (which makes sense!), with the cash flows of diverse companies well over twice that of those who keep things uniform.
The question is simple: are all of your comms accessible to all their intended audience all of the time? You can look here for a few pointers.
Share your company objectives and goals regularly
Having a strong vision and a clear strategy for the future of your business is fundamental. You need to know where you’re headed and how you plan to get there.
But having all of this stored safely in the brain of your MD, or on the laptops of your SLT doesn’t count for much if your people don’t know it. If your employees are not aware of, and not on board with, your visions and goals, then there’s precious little chance of you achieving them.
And don’t just focus on the “traditional” targets, as important as they are, such as income and profit. If there are other targets in place, such as for collaboration, mystery shopper results, continuous improvement ideas etc., then these should be shared too.
Share your company’s performance regularly
How ever you choose to do this, whether in person or by remote means, and whether company-wide or via localised teams, it’s essential that your employees know how the company is doing, what requires focus and where great successes are occurring.
Be open and two-way with your comms
Make your senior leaders visible, approachable and available
A regular “Catch Up with your SLT” or “Let’s Talk with…” session (over MS Teams, Zoom or your conferencing platform of choice) is a great way to build trust and transparency as well as get key information out there. It can break down the barriers between “them and us” and nurture the sense of belonging that we all crave. Additionally, these can be a chance for leaders to show humanity, humility, and good humour, which is the very opposite of showing weakness. Showing vulnerability makes leaders more relatable and can open up better connections with our people.
Have an open-door policy
As an add on to the above, create an environment where all employees feel that they can approach their leaders to share ideas or concerns. Some employers utilise Skip Level Meetings as a way of opening the door to more senior leaders. Others ask their leaders to have advertised open door time slots each week or month, during which they will have clear diaries and, well, (literal or metaphorical) open doors.
Make 121s mandatory, frequent and robust
More personalised and individual-specific than the company performance updates already mentioned, 121s should be the golden opportunity for employees to understand how they are performing against their targets, what their personal priorities should be, as well as an opportunity to celebrate personal wins, share ideas and address issues or concerns. They should be scheduled and honoured, follow an agenda, focus on positives and strengths, look forward as much as they look back and facilitate healthy, open two-way communication between employee and line manager.
Facilitate separate “My Time” sessions
Aside from performance, allow time for your people to discuss how they are really feeling about the company and their role, or to discuss anything else that is on their mind or troubling them. Ambitiously open employers allow their people to schedule a “My Time” session wherever they see a gap in their leader’s calendar for whatever topic they want to discuss. The idea here is to make your people feel important and valued, and to want to stay.
Never underestimate the importance of recognition and appreciation
Very few people work solely for the money. And almost everyone buzzes from being recognised and appreciated, the Millennials and Gen-Z folk more than most. Hays recently listed recognition after only development and progression (and way before money) as a key motivator for employees. The research of Frederick Herzberg (1923-2000), clinical psychologist and the pioneer of ‘job enrichment’, identified achievement and recognition as employees’ top two motivators (even before the work itself, and with salary relegated to a “hygiene factor” along with work conditions and status).
Create a culture where employees are valued
Closely linked with the above three entries in my list, but this is also about ensuring that all employees are on board with recognition and appreciation, especially those with line management responsibilities. The keyword here is ‘culture’. It only takes a couple of disbelieving line managers to kill the buzz and the culture that you are trying to instil across the whole business.
Examples of visual, creative internal comms
Utilise storytelling in your comms
Most people would agree that one of the most fundamental components of successful change management is selling the change – explaining to those that are going to experience the change, why it is necessary and, hopefully, beneficial for them and the business.
The same simple principle applies across all internal comms. Storytelling conveys purpose and engages people. It can generate loyalty and, therefore, success.
Too many organisations still don’t understand the importance of storytelling when it comes to communicating with their people. Instead of creating engaging narratives that embed their ideology, vision and values into something memorable, relatable and engaging, they let these key messages die from the dullest and driest of delivery methods.
Use “characters” that your people know for even greater effect; nothing will grab the attention and motivation of your people like sharing how their colleagues have contributed to success. Name the people who helped to obtain a recent win and detail how they did it. Tell the story!
Use video frequently...
I’ve written umpteen times about the value of video as the best way of communicating with your people. It’s far more engaging and can convey empathy and sincerity far more effectively than an e-mail. With videos, complex messages can be delivered with visuals to clarify, and body language and vocal tones to reassure, if that’s what’s required. A three-minute video can contain and disseminate a lot of information far more effectively and efficiently than a remote meeting or lengthy e-mail. Research shows that the average viewer retains 95% of a message when they watch it on a video. Conversely, only 10% is retained when it is read.
…and don’t forget your static visuals
Images, photos, infographics, pictograms, charts and graphs all enhance (or can sometimes even replace) your written comms, whether shared in print or electronically. According to research, the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text, and 65% of the population are visual learners. As well as conveying factual information, images can also spark a visceral, emotional reaction in their viewers. An image of a wounded puppy or a mistreated circus elephant is likely to have far more impact for a charity fighting animal cruelty than a piece of prose about the same. As well as grabbing attention, it can tug at heartstrings.
An extension of the above, marketing your strategies and events as you would products to your customers can reap benefits. Branding your campaigns or projects, for example, will mean that their updates register with your people faster and with a consistency and familiarity that they will welcome.
Team meetings (whether in-person or remote) are still a great way to share progress and best practice, celebrate successes and valuable contributions and thrash out issues, problems and concerns. We are still social animals (teenagers with smartphones notwithstanding!) and we still enjoy, and benefit from, seeing friendly faces and talking to each other. Just ensure that meetings are organised, structured and meaningful.
Go company-wide when required
Whether it’s an annual conference or a bespoke event for a particular announcement, getting the whole company together can be well worth the effort and expense. This is particularly true when there is a significant announcement to share, be the news good or bad. If it’s the latter, your people deserve to hear the truth in a timely manner and from their own leaders.
Announce the event in style
To state the obvious, your people need to know when and where your event is taking place. But what is often missed is the opportunity to make the most of the event by building excitement in the lead up to it. Share the agenda and announce any partners, guest speakers or specially planned activities. Consider employing some form of countdown to the date. (“There’s one week to go and we are thrilled to announce that…”) And don’t forget to confirm things like dress code, what to bring and the facilities on site if it’s at a third-party venue.
Be smart with your tech
Facilitate open Q&As
A platform like Vevox is perfect for inviting thoughts and questions from your audience (whether they’re in the same building or not). Questions and contributions can be submitted anonymously if you really want to gauge opinion and true feeling, which is a great way to show honesty and transparency from the top. Polls can also be set up and run to gather feelings and opinions. This kind of platform is perfect for your company-wide meetings and conferences, but works well at almost any meeting.
Build a robust and engaging intranet
It’s simple really – you need your people to want to use your intranet. Therefore, it needs to be inviting and easy to navigate. Colour, images and an intuitive interface are all essential for ensuring an intranet’s success. So is training your people on using it, and updating it frequently.
Employ a company newsletter
A digital newsletter, weekly, monthly or quarterly to suit your business and your people, can be a great place to share company-wide news, future plans and positive stories. It’s a simple internal comms example and easy enough to implement, but it’s effective when done well.
Keep it varied and engaging with contributions from others and ramp up the relaxed, fun feel of it by including a round-up of employees’ birthdays and work anniversaries, long-service awards and other recognitions, selected employee profiles, tips and best practice ideas and anything else that might grab the attention and pique the interest of your people. Share this on your intranet to avoid adding to that pesky e-mail traffic. Talking of which…
Discourage (excessive) use of e-mail
Let’s be honest, the once technological saviour of professional comms has become cold and tiresome. Do you know anyone who doesn’t complain about their e-mail traffic or bulging inbox? Chatting via Teams, Slack or the company intranet, or even just picking up the phone, can usually resolve things faster and in a far less unnecessarily formal way.
Introduce online employee profiles
A great way to boost connectivity, collaboration and productivity across your teams is to ensure your people know who their colleagues are, what their areas of expertise and specialism are, and what they’re currently working on. This can greatly help when someone is looking for someone to help with a specific task or project. Sharing other interests and hobbies can also help with relationship building. This could be added to your intranet.
Go digital with onboarding
Make that oh-so-wearisome paper-heavy onboarding process digital with electronic and online forms. As well as speeding the process for HR and looking more professional and 21st Century, it allows you to collect some crucial information before your new starters’ start dates.
Employ ambient messaging
Screens mounted in communal areas, especially where people enjoy downtime (break rooms, canteens etc.) can be used to show simple “headline” messages from key business updates to upcoming events or deadlines, or even local weather and national news headlines. Content needs to be light on text and must be updated regularly if they are to grab the attention of those enjoying a cappuccino and a flapjack! You’d be amazed by what subconsciously sneaks into the brain of someone casually enjoying a caffeine and sugar rush.
Use a text messaging service for emergencies
This is a great internal communications example that you hopefully never have to use. Should you ever need to send an urgent message to all of your people, or to a sizeable, selected population, this can be a much easier option than making however-many individual urgent phone calls. It could be to communicate the closure of a building, a crash of fundamental tech’, an unexpected short-notice audit or visit, or a sudden and unavoidable change to something like shift start times. Can be highly effective and efficient, but is not to be over-used.