The importance of internal communication, with examples
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 8 July 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Establishing an effective internal communication strategy is a crucial part of creating a productive, collaborative and engaged workplace. While external communication covers liaising with clients and potential customers, internal communication involves contact between management and employees. Understanding how to optimise internal communication strategies is an important step in the functioning of any successful business. In this article, we discuss what internal communication is, with examples of how to use it, look at different styles and types and share tips on how to foster effective internal communication in the workplace.
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5 examples to foster effective internal communication
Internal communication is the overall way in which employees and management communicate to achieve a company's objective. Internal communication is the group of processes and tactics that are responsible for effective and seamless collaboration amongst individuals within a company. This allows for an effective flow of information between all employees and departments within an organisation. It may involve communication both up and down the chain of command and interaction between employees. Here are internal communication examples to make your workplace more effective:
1. Promote honesty and transparency
One way an organisation can promote effective internal communication is to ensure honesty with employees. If employees have access to all crucial information, particularly during times of crisis, they may feel more involved and better informed. Transparency avoids the risk of misinformation when employees seek answers from other colleagues. Typically, managers communicate changes, and it's important that the information delivered is clear and transparent to avoid misunderstandings.
2. Encourage openness
Another way an organisation can promote effective internal communication is by creating an environment where employees feel comfortable asking questions and raising issues. These issues may relate to work or can be something more personal that's impacting them at work. As a result, it's important that management encourages employees to be open about their thoughts, feelings and any problems they may have.
3. Follow up quickly
It's important for management to deliver answers and guidance as quickly as possible to avoid wasting time or risking misinformation spreading. For example, if an employee asks for information, a delay in receiving an answer can take up critical time. Choosing a suitable communication channel helps to ensure quick follow-ups and the easy release of information. This often includes using an internal communications app that can send out instant notifications to specific employees or to the whole organisation.
4. Show strong leadership
Having visible leadership skills is crucial for encouraging positive attitudes and behaviours and developing the knowledge of others. Management and senior staff members play an important role in communicating matters to employees, such as answering questions, providing training and setting tasks. They typically play an important role in providing reassurance and guidance during periods of uncertainty.
5. Measure success
It's vital to understand whether communications are being received and understood. After establishing how to deliver internal communications, it may be helpful to measure the success of implemented strategies. For example, if a company is sending out messages regarding employee health and safety, it's important that these messages are instant and unmissable. Managers can use communication programs to check who has read the message and who hasn't, making them an effective method of internal communication.
Related: A guide to the 7 Cs of communication
Types of internal communication
There are several different types of internal communication that are suitable for use in a workplace:
Communication between individuals at different levels of the organisational structure is vertical communication. This type of communication follows a linear system where information passes from one employee to the next. It can be between superiors, leaders or managers, subordinates, employees or team members, and it can take the form of memos, staff meetings or casual conversations. This type of communication works well when delivering instructions and information to staff members, and it can help all individuals better understand what the organisation expects from them. It also allows employees to discuss their thoughts and needs with upper management.
Horizontal communication is that between people at the same level in the company's hierarchy, and this is typically the most common type of communication in a workplace. For example, if a group of colleagues are working collaboratively on a project, they are engaging in horizontal communication. When done correctly, this form of communication aids teamwork, clarity and accountability. It can create a sense of unity as colleagues work together to achieve the same objective. If done incorrectly, it can be challenging to maintain stability in a project, so when utilising horizontal communication, it may be useful to have a dedicated platform for creating, sharing and archiving documents.
Along with categorising the different types of communication, it can also be useful to consider the style of communication. A formal style of communication includes conveying information through official structures such as employee meetings, reviews and company emails. Formal communication is typically delivered from senior members of an organisation to the rest of the employees. It's backed by organisational procedures and typically supports the objectives of the company by outlining tasks, structures and expectations on projects. It is also useful for ensuring there's an official record of important matters.
Informal communication can happen anywhere in an organisation and occurs when employees communicate outside predetermined channels. It may exist in the form of a casual conversation between two colleagues about an upcoming task. Despite being casual, this style of communication is still essential for establishing and nurturing relationships between colleagues, superiors and subordinates. It can help create solidarity and strengthen teams. It also allows employees to give feedback to their superiors.
Why is internal communication important?
Reasons why internal communication is a key component within a successful business include:
Keeps employees informed
A key reason why a company may encourage effective internal communication is to keep employees informed of upcoming events, engagement initiatives, progress and company goals. Keeping employees up to date with the company's happenings can lead to increased clarity and understanding, which can aid productivity and focus. If an organisation makes the effort to involve employees, it can improve the overall level of job satisfaction.
Creates a channel for feedback, debate and discussion
Internal communication plays a crucial role in allowing upper management to convey information to employees, but it's also important in giving team members a voice. Open communication leaves room for essential feedback, pushback and debate. This means that employees get the chance to offer opinions and feel involved and valued. It also allows management to receive feedback, adjust accordingly and learn how to better serve the company's employees.
Helps establish and sustain a positive company culture
When carried out effectively, internal communication can establish a positive company culture, as all cases of communication play a role in how employees interpret and understand an organisation's cultural landscape. A thriving organisational culture defines a company's identity, highlights its core values and helps employees feel like they're a valued part of a community. This consequently improves employee engagement and helps to deliver a unique customer experience.
Makes for smoother crisis management
Businesses often face challenging situations, and, during such times, it's crucial that managers use effective internal communication to keep staff informed and updated. Transparency and excellent communication can help create an environment of comfort and openness to sustain a company during difficult periods.
Tips for communicating internally
Establish successful communication channels: Finding the most appropriate channels for conducting communication is an effective way to improve the functioning of a company. With clearly defined communication structures, employees have consistent engagement and easy connection with their colleagues.
Anticipate adjustments: Employees may respond differently to the same method of internal communication. This means that it's important for management to be able to tailor the method of communication to match the recipient.
Utilise a range of communication styles: Since some situations can call for different styles of communication, it's important for both managers and employees to understand when a formal or informal approach is best. For example, it's useful to consider if it's better to broach a topic by speaking to a colleague directly or by arranging a formal meeting.
Encourage opinions: Although some employees may be eager to voice their opinion, others require more encouragement. As all employee opinions are valid and important, it may be useful to directly ask employees to share their thoughts in a comfortable and positive environment.
Create an informative and engaging company newsletter: Newsletters can be another efficient way to ensure that employees stay informed and engaged. It may be useful to send regular newsletters by email to maintain a planned, structured and consistent company culture.
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