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Why You Need an Internal Communication Strategy for Your Business in 2022

Are you about to create your internal communication strategy but don’t know how to begin? Check out these employee communication best practices to learn how to do it.

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  • Internal communication can get boring, unimportant, or impersonal pretty fast, especially when you’re working with remote or hybrid teams.

    But not if you have an internal communication strategy that’s tailored to your team’s needs and your business culture.

    Most companies overlook the importance of internal communications, and creating a strong strategy can be challenging, but doing it properly will improve your team’s focus and morale. Curious to know how?

    In this guide, we’ll share how to implement your internal communication plan and amplify your company culture through different digital channels. Let’s dive in!

    What is an internal communication strategy?

    Internal communication strategy definition

    An internal communication strategy is a plan for communicating with internal stakeholders at your company. A good strategy will set out guidelines for effectively sharing information and enhancing your company culture via dedicated communication channels.

    Internal communication planning includes defining all corporate communications: one-to-one, one-to-many, from the top down, department announcements, or communication from the juniors to C-level executives.

    In this internal communication plan, you should define how to effectively communicate:

    • Goals
    • Organizational changes
    • Company wide decisions or relevant information
    • Announcements
    • Event invitations
      Sayings like “the customer is always right” or “there’s only one boss: the customer” are familiar but out of date. Communicating properly internally is just as important as engaging the customer.

    Why is an internal team communication strategy important?

    Here’s why you should incorporate an internal communications framework in your business:

    • To keep people aligned and informed on business goals and decisions. Even if you don’t have all the answers, it’s essential to keep your people in the loop on topics that may concern them. Virtual Town Hall meetings are great to address this.
    • To increase team productivity and morale. When everyone is encouraged to share ideas and have visibility of the business decision-making process, they feel valued, included, and engaged.
    • To promote company culture. Culture is taught and shared amongst your team members through every interaction. Having clear and effective internal communications guidelines keeps the right culture thriving through messages or All Hands meetings.
    • To get employees excited about events, virtual team building activities, and overall company announcements. Clear guidelines for communication in the workplace that state the best frequency, topics, and channels can help you make touchpoints more engaging, exciting, and relevant.
    • To increase brand perception. All businesses represent two brands, a product or service brand (what they sell) and an employer brand (how they’re perceived by talent). Both brands should represent the same values. Also, if your employees feel listened to and included, they’re most likely to share positive reviews and increase the employer’s brand perception.

    Pro tip: Your employees are also brand promoters and spokespeople, so you should ensure internal and external communications are aligned with the way the brand communicates.

    5 common internal communication challenges

    Creating a culture that has strong internal communication guidelines and is aligned with the strategy can be harder than you may think. In fact, HR managers usually face at least one of these six challenges:

    Challenge #1: Promoting and implementing horizontal communication

    The top-down approach to corporate communications is outdated. Horizontal communication enables everyone to share news without silos. A good way of implementing it is by segmenting the tools you use for different types of internal communication. For example, you can encourage Slack for immediate company-wide, one-to-one, and one-to-many communication, and use emails for corporate, top-down communication.

    man experiencing internal communication challenge

    Challenge #2: Taking employee feedback into consideration

    If your team isn’t ever asked for their opinion, and if their suggestions are never taken onboard or considered by leadership, that can have a poor effect on morale. Ultimately, feeling ignored will make those team members feel less invested in the success of the business. Make sure you’re open to making changes like incorporating internal communications tools to your tech stack.

    two men in suits building an internal communication plan

    Challenge #3: Making communication clear and engaging through a screen

    Leverage tools that make it easier for you to come up with those idea to break the ice. Livestorm, for example, offers different interactive features like live polls and surveys to improve participation during video conferences. Get some ideas to break the ice in meetings this video.

    Challenge #4: Sharing the right amount of sensitive information

    It can be tough to find the balance between informing your team members without oversharing topics that might cause anxiety or uncertainty. For example, if you’re a startup on a budget and are trying to find investors to keep the operation running, the outcome of every investor meeting is probably not relevant to your employees. Instead, you can let everyone know that you'll communicate once there is an update.

    woman with megaphone communication in the workplace

    Challenge #5: Using too many internal communication tools

    There’s an app for everything, and while those tools might simplify parts of your work, you should avoid using too many different communication channels and causing notification fatigue. If you get too many tools, you’ll confuse people, and your internal communication strategy will likely fail due to its complexity.

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    8 steps to build an internal communication strategy for teams

    Step #1. Review and gather feedback on your current internal communication plan

    Whether or not you already have a corporate internal communication strategy, you should gather feedback from your employees to spot areas of improvement and gather communication ideas.

    You can collect feedback in any way that you want:

    • Focus groups. Gather a group of 4-5 people and ask them a list of predefined questions that they can discuss among themselves. Some examples of questions you can ask are: “Do you remember a time when you enjoyed reading corporate communication?” “What do you dislike about internal team communications?” “How did they do it in your previous job?”.
    • Surveys. Create a list of questions for employees to rate your internal communication strategy. Leave some open questions for them to share their ideas and opinions.
    • 1:1 calls. Depending on the size of your business this might not be doable with everyone. In that case, you can choose a mixed group of people to hop on a short call with you and answer some questions regarding your internal communication plan for employees.

    Make sure you find out how people feel about the tools you already use in-house and whether there’s anything missing from your tech stack.

    Step #2. Outline internal communication guidelines

    Review the collected data to come up with insights and draft the new strategy. In the strategy, you should come up with a document that states your internal communication guidelines. They should clearly explain:

    • Your core values and how they should be represented in internal communications
    • Specific and actionable rules to follow (e.g. schedule messages to avoid emailing after hours)
    • Relevant abbreviations or date formatting to use to avoid miscommunication
    • Channels of communication and how to use them
    • Video meetings checklist and specifications

    You can share these guidelines in an all-hands meeting or in an HR webinar.

    Step #3. Set key performance indicators (KPIs)

    Define your internal communication goals and set the KPIs that you’ll measure this strategy against. Some good examples of internal communication goals include: employee appreciation, employee engagement with internal communications (e.g. corporate newsletter, and internal metrics that came up in the feedback round.

    Welcoming a new employee

    Step #4. Choose the right communication tools

    Communication tools in the workplace are crucial for team engagement. Deep dive into the tools you use or will incorporate and make it clear what you’ll be using them for. A good way is to define a tool for each purpose, but aim for multipurpose tools whenever you can to avoid notification fatigue. You’ll need to define a tool for:

    • Instant communication
    • Collaborative note-taking
    • Video conferencing
    • Project management
    • Asynchronous communication (i.e. using video for internal communication instead of meetings)

    Livestorm is a great video conferencing tool that allows you to send invites, have interactive meetings and analyze metrics all in one place. Remember to create a run of show to make sure your internal communication is streamlined.

    Step #5. List key stakeholders

    Make a chart with all the key roles that need to be involved in the execution of the internal communications plan, but also the ones who need to be notified if anything happens. That means you should list the responsible people for approvals, sending the communication, and contacting guest speakers for quarterly webinars.

    internal communication plans

    Step #6. Define frequency and formats

    Internal communications planning can be lengthy. During this stage, you should list all the formats in which you’ll reach your employees, like in a company all-hands meeting, and how many times you’ll do it. Make an SOP for each one of these touchpoints. For example, if you’re sending a monthly newsletter, you should define:

    • Which day of the week it’ll go out
    • Who’s responsible for writing and sharing it
    • What content it’ll contain
    • Dos and don’ts (e.g. branding colors, allowed topics, adding images within text and not as attachments).
    Internal Communication Strategies for a Hybrid Work Environment
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    Internal Communication Strategies for a Hybrid Work Environment

    Learn how Guru and Livestorm adapted their internal communication strategies to create higher engagement and collaboration in this hybrid environment.

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    Step #7. Define budget and deadlines

    An internal communication strategy can be as expensive as you want. When budgeting, you need to include the price of each tool and activities you’ve planned to implement.

    For example, if you’re changing your video conferencing tool, you’ll need to add the price difference to the budget, or if you’re planning on having one webinar with a guest speaker each quarter, you should include an estimated price.

    Setting deadlines is as important as budgeting because it helps you plan and commit to those activities and to the success of your internal communications strategy.

    Step #8. Test, measure, and adjust

    Repeat step one, but this time, measure it against KPIs. Adjust and repeat as needed. Don’t be scared to pull the plug on some internal communication tools or activities.

    3 mistakes to avoid in your internal communication strategy

    Good internal communication strategies are easy to follow, especially if your employees are aligned with the company’s values and culture. If you avoid these mistakes, you’ll be on the right track:

    1. Ignoring feedback

    One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to creating and implementing a strategy is ignoring the feedback from the people who’ll be impacted by it. That leads to people not following your communications plan, sticking to old ways, and feeling frustrated and unheard.

    2. Choosing the wrong tools

    A very common mistake in internal communication plans is to choose either too many tools or ones that are cheaper but difficult to use and unhelpful. For example, if your sales team needs their project management tool to connect to their CRM but you choose to get two different tools they didn’t ask for, they’ll probably ignore your tool selection and come up with a different solution.

    3. Overcomplicating guidelines and rules

    K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) is a widely known marketing strategy that you should apply to your internal communication as well. A typical example of overcomplicating simple things is by adding too many Slack channels. Channels are an amazing feature to segment topics and keep a historical record of them, but when you start to change or create one for each specific topic, people get confused, and your strategy ends up failing.

    How are internal and external communication plans for employees similar?

    Internal and external communication are always going to be different in tone and length from one another, but not in values.
    When having informal chats, coworkers make jokes, talk about responsibilities, and communicate about random topics daily. That makes informal internal communication more frequent and extensive. External and corporate internal communication can be more precise and topical.

    While the topics and the tone might be different from internal and external communication, they need to be aligned to work. Some ways in which your formal internal and external communication plan should be similar:

    • They both need to send a clear and relevant message about the business
    • They should go out using the right communication channels
    • External and internal communications need to have an aligned distribution frequency
    • Communications need to repeat relevant messages in different formats to get them to stick
    • They should go through a reviewing process to ensure quality and transparency.
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    How to align internal and external communication for your company?

    Internal and external communication should always be aligned, especially when sharing messages with your customers, you need to make sure your internal team is aware of them. Here’s how to align your internal and external communication plan:

    • Make sure both internal and external communication guidelines represent the company’s values
    • Get your HR and marketing team working together to ensure consistency in the messages you share internally and externally
    • Find out what your internal team perceives about how the brand is portrayed externally, and incorporate those insights into your external communications
    • Define the topics are for internal use only
    • Unify the tone. Internal communications can always be more friendly than external communications, but the tone should be similar in both since it portrays your brand
    • Your brand personality should live and represent the company’s culture
    • Come up with a reviewing process that helps you analyze internal and external communications before sharing.

    It’s your time to build your internal communication plan

    You’ve now learned how to create an internal communication strategy for your business to boost your team’s morale and empower them to make decisions aligned with business goals.

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