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14 Internal Communication Strategies for 2019

Ideas, tools and best practice examples for making internal communication easy.

Jan 2019

14 Internal Communication Strategies for 2019

There’s a big difference between what you say and how you say it right? Well when it comes to the workplace, company culture is what you say and internal communication is how you say it.

For example, if an organization says “Our company culture is based on transparency” but actually, no information gets passed down from the company founders to the employees, your internal communication strategy isn’t reflecting your company culture.

The two need to work in tandem so that your communication strategy reflects the culture you’re aiming for. This affects every part of how you work, and in most cases, how information is transmitted between company, teams and employees.

In this guide we’re going to look at internal communication strategies that will help improve your flow of information. A 2019 handbook to make communicating easy if you like.

1. Company All Hands

If you haven’t heard of a company All Hands before this dictionary definition says that it’s:

1 : an entire ship's company

2 : everybody engaged in the same pursuit

As a company that does an All Hands every month, we like both of those definitions. An all-company meeting is a great strategy for building up confidence and knowledge within a company. As the definition alludes, it helps to keep everyone steering the ship in the same direction.

Our buddies at Slido say “All-hands meetings are the cornerstone of transparent culture”. It’s hard not to agree. If the entire company is sitting down together once a month, or more regularly, it’s hard to not have a culture that invites transparency.

So what should an All Hands achieve? At ScreenCloud we have a pretty typical format, where each of our Founders presents for around 30 minutes on a separate topic. Often this falls into; our metrics, our purpose and our product.

You might decide to just have one topic per All Hands, or to invite in different areas like inspiration (a story or anecdote) or education (a lesson or topic).

Here some key tips on creating an engaging All Hands (you can also read how we set up our All Hands up here):

  • Make it frequent - once per month at least
  • Organize it well - if you’re inviting the whole company it needs to be as slick as possible in terms of setup, technology and themes
  • Invite questions but limit discussion - this is important to ensure you don’t end up in a debate over the small details. All Hands is more about the big picture - follow up meetings can be created for further discussion.

2. Clear company objectives

If you asked every employee to tell you your core company objectives for this quarter, or in general, could they answer?

Successful brands are built on successful workplace culture and part of this is ensuring that everyone knows what the company aims are.

Amazon - Earth’s biggest store

Walt Disney - Make everyone feel like a child again

Squarespace - Help creative, non-techy, people build websites

Okay we’re paraphrasing, but you get the picture. Often, in the day-to-day minutiae we forget to keep reinforcing the big company mission to our teams. There are plenty of ways you could make sharing company objectives one of this year’s strategies including:

  • Use OKRs - “Objectives and Key Results” are a great way to enforce the company mission as they start from the top down. The company sets its three biggest aims for the quarter, then each department or employee comes up with their own objectives that feed into the big aims. Alignment - done.
  • Metric sharing - outside of the sales team, information on company metrics like growth, turnover and sales often gets siloed. Make your company metrics more visible - it helps employees to take ownership over them.
  • Visual displays - if you’re trying to get everyone to read a monthly report on your company mission, you’re likely to fail. Company objectives should be like donuts - tasty and easy-to-consume. We like to share our company “North Stars” on digital signage screens around the office, that repeat daily. This helps everyone to see what they should be focusing on, without having to do too much work.

3. Digital signage screens

With that in mind, digital signage is a great internal communication strategy that’s easy to implement and that makes internal information more visible.

We could wax lyrical all day about the benefits, but a few screens up in your office could help to share:

  • Company metrics
  • New joiners and work anniversaries
  • Birthdays
  • Company announcements
  • Emergency notices
  • Marketing initiatives
  • Customer feedback

In fact, here are five examples of digital signage displays you could create to help improve internal communication in the office.

4. Employee engagement practices

Employee engagement is a huge contributor to how well a company performs. Highly engaged business teams result in 21% greater profitability.

Finding ways to keep employees engaged is obviously a strategy for the win. This could be incentives, public praise (more on this below), better organization around teamwork or finding ways to increase job satisfaction or training.

As well as deciding how to keep employees engaged, these ideas must also be transmitted to staff members. An employee newsletter, social media channel or dedicated Slack channel could all help to ensure consistency.

5. Feedback loops

We often go out of our way to get feedback from customers, but what about feedback from employees? Internal communication is a two-way street. As well as Managers communicating their expectations, employees should also have the means to say how they feel, what they’re working on and what could be improved.

This could be using a tool, for example at ScreenCloud we use 15Five and every Friday each team member rates how they feel on a score of 1-5.

There are also other ways to provide more general feedback. This could be a Slack channel, a regular 1-1 meeting or a chance to present new ideas and ways to move forward.

6. Employee-driven work flows

In his TED Talk, Martin Danoesastro asks: “what are you willing to give up to change the way we work?”.

One of his analogies is that for birds to fly perfectly in a flock, they cannot have one leader. Instead, “scientists believe that these birds are relying on a few simple rules, allowing every single bird to make autonomous decisions while still flying in perfect synchrony. Their alignment enables their autonomy, and their autonomy makes them fast and flexible.”

In workplace culture, autonomy is something which hasn’t always been given to employees. Yet more and more startups are adopting either flat hierarchies or flexible working practices which do give employees the autonomy to be masters of their own workloads.

Introducing employee-driven workflows, where each individual decides on the tasks which will best align them to the company goals, could help your company to work better and be more productive.

7. Less email

You knew this was coming right?

Part of internal communication is ensuring that employees aren’t overwhelmed by information. And email? It creates overwhelm.

Think about ways you can streamline information this year and reduce the number of emails required.

This could be introducing a tool like Slack (it’s pretty much all we use at ScreenCloud), having an “email budget” for the amount of emails employees can send or introducing email etiquette, like not replying with an email if it’s just to say okay or thanks, or removing people from cc. as soon as they’re no longer needed to respond.

8. More productive meetings

Why we’re hacking away at email, let’s also think about meetings. How many times have you seen people sitting in a meeting, yawning, bored or on their phones?

More productive meetings help everyone to communicate more effectively and may even make people look forward to meetings rather than dreading them - weird thought hey?

Strategies we like for more productive meeting are:

  • Walking meetings - fresh air helps to spark new ideas
  • No phone meetings - if you’re only going to sit on your phone checking email, what’s the point of having the meeting in the first place?
  • Meeting-free time zones - this might be protecting everyone’s time by having a “no meetings before 11am policy” or encouraging employees to block out their most productive times to keep them meeting-free.

We love this guide from Evernote on how to keep meetings productive - including how many invitees are best for brainstorming vs decision making.

9. A communication tool stack

What are your core tools for internal communication? Refining a technology stack often helps to streamline where information is being shared.

Too many tools, and employees could get overwhelmed. Too little, or no clear plan, and you could end up with information all over the place.

Check out this guide for internal communication tools you might wish to consider.

10. Team bonding time

According to a recent study, scientists now believe that the chemical dopamine (often known as the brain’s reward) is involved when forming a human bond. This means two things:

  • When people have strong social circles, dopamine is increased which can reduce the effects of conditions such as depression
  • Caring for others turns on our own “reward centers” in the brain

Team bonding exercise

One of our favorite team bonding experiences - sitting around the campfire in Zakopane.

When you think about it, employees aren’t just employees, they’re people too. This is why it’s important to help facilitate relationships and strong team bonds, and part of your internal communications strategy should be leveraged towards doing that.

Other studies suggest that close-knit teams and a strong bond with our environment  increase performance - even over those who may be more experienced than us, but with fewer social bonds.

Gives a whole other angle to Friday drinks right?

11. Inspiration

Working for a company whose social mission they can believe in is one of the top factors Millennials look for when joining the workplace.

Inspiring employees and finding methods to share information internally is a great way to harness an entrepreneurial and interesting company culture.

This could be using a Slack channel like #interestingideas where anyone can add ideas, articles or thoughts. It might also be coming up with a company Podcast “listening list” where everyone can add their favorite listens.

Presentations or “Lunch and Learn” type activities with people within the company, or external experts, also helps to bring new ideas to the table, increasing creativity.

12. Company or departmental offsites

A change of environment can help to get other parts of the brain firing which just don’t happen when you’re sat at the same desk, in the same office.

Organizing regular “offsites” where teams, pods or even the entire company, can get away to brainstorm and tackle specific tasks or ideas is a great way to boost communication and company progress.

Studies also show that being outside of our comfort zone helps to “turn on” the brain’s learning centers. Which makes company activities which bring in physical activities or challenges a good idea for finding new ways of thinking and communicating.

13. Employee recognition

“We are all motivated by a keen desire for praise, and the better a man is, the more he is inspired by glory.” - CICERO, Pro Archia Poeta

How often does your company praise, reward or recognize the efforts of its employees? Internal communication is a great vehicle for ensuring that great work gets seen.

Some best practices may be:

  • Having a tool which reminds and encourages employees to praise each other - we use 15Five
  • Making praise more visible - in a company newsletter, on your digital signage screens or via a dedicated intranet or Slack channel
  • Having a consistent award or reward system, where employees can get nominated and win prizes

14. Internal marketing

Do you think about internal communication or do you think about internal marketing? Both fulfil kind of the same purpose, but the latter suggests that you can get more creative. That you’ll test ideas, use tools and try to have a measurable - like increasing engagement.

Employees aren’t that different to customers and finding new ways to keep them engaged and to share information, is key to improving the way you communicate up and down the chain.

Set aside time, a budget and new ideas for how you’ll run your internal marketing, the same as you would for an external marketing campaign.

Done well, it could even become part of your marketing, improving the way outsiders, customers and potential employees, view your company.

ScreenCloud - Digital Screens That Help Improve Internal Communication

We believe that information hidden in sales CRMs, emails or long-ass Google Docs can be better shared (and retained) when it’s put on screens. The difference between keeping information locked away in a drawer in your house, or bringing it to the public town square.

Try it out for yourself with a 14-day free trial at signage.screen.cloud.  

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