Of all the many pressing concerns of smaller businesses, internal communications often falls by the wayside. It’s natural that busy with customers and clients, finance and day-to-day business, communicating with your employees in a pre-planned way may not take priority. However SMEs should be aware of the powerful effect of connecting with your staff on a regular basis.
What is internal communication?
Put simply, internal communication is the sharing of information within an organisation for business purposes.
You can choose from many different ways to communicate:
- In writing by email and newsletters
- Meetings, formal presentations and away-days
- Phone or web conferencing
- An intranet or shared folder on a server if everyone has access
Different comms channels can be used for different types of message. Basic messages about new systems, procedures etc. can be emailed round. More sophisticated corporate strategy messages are probably better communicated face-to-face.
Why is internal communications important?
Communicating regularly with staff is an important part of employee engagement – it helps to keep staff feeling connected to the business, increases buy-in from them and leads to greater loyalty. Surveys have shown that firms that communicate effectively:
√ are four times more likely to report high levels of employee engagement than those who don’t
√ achieve better financial results and higher staff retention of valued employees
A workforce motivated in this way means that you are increasing your chances of better productivity and staff retention. When staff turnover can be inconvenient and costly, it makes sense to do all you can to keep staff on board.
Tips for successful internal communications:
- Don’t keep employees in the dark – Keep staff in the loop about future plans for the business; don’t just confine these to senior management. Communicating in this way will help break down any ‘us & them’ barriers and means staff will come to share your vision and goals.
- Stick to a neutral, positive voice in written communications – Avoid talking down or going too overboard with humour or in-jokes. Use clear language but with sufficient content to give your staff something worthwhile to read.
- Hear all about it! – Create a newsletter to send to all staff. It needn’t be long and can be occasional if you can’t commit regularly. Invite staff to contribute short pieces, for example, on their role. This can be emailed and hard copies left in rest/break areas too.
- How are we doing? – Invite feedback from employees on any new initiatives – this can be done via email, SMS or using free feedback forms available on the web. And remember to follow-up and send a final thank you message with a summary of the responses.
- Add some fun – All work and no play can be a bit dull. In amongst the business messages include the occasional social message about team events or social outings.
With all the compelling reasons for improving internal communications, it’s clear this team-boosting strategy would benefit smaller business owners and managers. In the digital age, effective ways of communicating can be low-cost and pre-scheduled so there are no last minute panics.
It also helps to achieve a smooth implementation of a Chronologic Workforce Management System if buy-in has been gained through internal comms activity; from those who’ll be clocking in as well as the managers and supervisors who’ll use the system for day-to-day management and reporting.
We came across a story about what happened when CEO Drew Houston of software company Dropbox turned up late to an all-hands meeting to talk about staff lateness! His staff were not impressed. Find out why walking the talk also makes a difference