If your company is transitioning from a small or medium-sized company into a large one, you’ll definitely encounter internal communication difficulties. So at this point, you might be wondering, “How do large companies communicate with their employees?” Unfortunately, it’s an entirely different world from what you were used to.
How small companies do business and communicate internally is drastically different from how large companies do it. Meaning, It’s much easier to assign work, set deadlines, and generally keep track of a small number of employees.
So if you were used to sending out a company-wide email every morning containing your employees’ work for the day, At a large company, that’s considered highly inefficient. In fact, it’ll only work towards wasting your time and that of your employees.
So to learn about effective ways to communicate with employees, keep reading this article.
Internal Communication Strategies Explained
At its core, an internal communication strategy works towards a more efficient workspace by defining solid goals to establish successful communication between upper management, management, and employees. This is done by planning activities and guidelines for everybody to follow to work towards achieving those goals.
And while all that sounds fine and dandy, creating a successful internal communication strategy isn’t an easy task. Successful internal communication methods depend on simple, easy to reach, and informative messages. A simple message will be understood, unlike a complicated one which has a larger chance of being ignored.
A common mistake some companies make while creating their company communication strategy is not emphasising the importance of feedback. Instead, communication should constantly be flowing in both directions.
Feedback from your employees helps you determine whether or not they’re meeting their goals consistently. It also enables you to understand how employees collaborate with their co-workers, managers, and teams.
Continuous feedback is also an excellent tool for motivation. For example, if an employee has done a good job, you should acknowledge that. This makes work more engaging and fun, and it pushes positive development.
However, you won’t always receive good feedback. Therefore, you should be open to giving constructive criticism. Letting someone know when they’ve done something wrong is an excellent way of eliminating common mistakes in the workplace.
Why Every Company Needs a Comprehensive Communication Strategy
Perhaps the most apparent advantage of an efficient communication strategy is promoting the supply of important information. This makes sure that the correct information reaches the right people easily, without having to sift through tons of emails to reach the relevant information.
And by using a communication strategy that lets information flow both ways, you’re encouraging your employees to share their ideas and suggestions on essential matters. This shows your employees that you listen to them and value their opinion. Therefore, you’re creating an engaged and productive staff.
Another perk of good employee communication is how fast you’ll be able to adapt to whatever situation your company is facing. For example, you can react quickly and efficiently to things like your competition lowering their prices or informing your travelling sales associates of bad weather.
You’ll also improve your employees’ work experiences by communicating positive messages and showing them you care about them. You can also share company news like free gym memberships, lunches, and Ubers for employees working late.
For starters, having a solid communication strategy can help your departments and teams communicate among themselves to prioritise and distribute the workload evenly. It also ensures your employees are aware of deadlines so they can organise their time to meet them.
Good communication also helps establish focus points and become aware of the bigger picture and the company’s goals. So every assignment a team receives, they can easily understand why their task is important and how it fits into the overall vision for the company.
A positive side effect of keeping your employees in the loop is how they’ll paint your company positively to the general public.
Employees who feel well-informed about their company’s ways become its greatest supporters. So when they talk about their company to their friends or on social media, they’ll become brand advocates.
Internal Communication Methods Within Large Companies
There’s no one-size-fits-all regarding company comms. Depending on your company’s goals, there’s an appropriate communication strategy that helps you achieve them. So you should consider each method and how it aligns with your company.
Another thing you want to avoid is going directly from setting small goals for your employees to using complex tactics without implementing a strategy.
You can find the right communication strategy for your company by simply testing. And after you’ve tried a few techniques, you should have enough data to determine what works and what doesn’t.
And while using a strategy, you should constantly be reviewing your strategy. A common trait successful companies share is continuously checking and updating their plan.
Therefore, these companies know what parts of their strategy contribute to the company’s efficiency and what factors need improvement.
As we said, there’s no one-size-fits-all. However, some internal communication strategies have proved more effective than others. So here are some tried and tested internal communication methods to experiment with.
- A company all-hands meeting: This is a company meeting where all employees gather in one session with the upper management. This ensures everyone receives the same information and messages.
- Digital signage screens: This strategy is one of the easiest to implement. It doesn’t require everyone to gather for a meeting, and it can be a great way to relay information to everyone simultaneously. For example, you can display work-related information like marketing strategies, customer feedback, or personal information.
- Employee engagement activities: Keeping your employees engaged is a proven way to increase productivity and profitability. You can do this by creating incentives or public praise. An engaged employee is more present and motivated than an unengaged one. In fact, highly engaged employees result in 21% higher profits for the company Gallup Workplace reports.
- Creating more productive meetings: One of the most time-consuming aspects of the workplace is inefficient meetings. How often do people sit in meetings bored, on their phones, or talking? To solve this issue, you can use a better meeting strategy like a walking meeting or a no phones allowed one.
Every company starts small before it expands. And naturally, there should be changes during that transition phase.
One area where the transition is often neglected or wholly overlooked is communication procedures in the workplace.
Small companies can usually get by using one or more group chats on a social networking app like WhatsApp. And as they expand, they might move on to enterprise social networks like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Facebook Workplace.
However, when a company gets larger, its workforce typically expands, and it forms a hierarchy of teams, where each team is responsible for a particular duty and doesn’t have to remain in touch with the other groups, at least not constantly.
In addition, if a company employs remote workers, they’re very likely to have a time zone clash with them. So instant messaging apps may fall short here because they don’t consider time zone differences and don’t convert between them. They’re just not designed for this job.
As such, these companies will need special communication platforms that provide them with effective tools for messaging, task assigning, file sharing, video conferencing, scheduling, and more.
With the rise of smartphones and instant messaging apps over the last decade, you might think that these platforms have long overtaken email in popularity or that email is a relatively outdated technology in the 2020s.
However, email remains the most popular form of internal communication in the workplace according to this article by TeamStage. And this is unlikely to change soon since email still plays a huge role in digital communication everywhere, not just internally in the workplace as we can see in this article from The American Genius.
But is email communication killing your employee productivity?
The problem with email isn’t a fundamental one. Instead, it’s a combination of not using email effectively and the cultural perceptions around email, often relating to formality and duty.
Poor email management also leads to wasted productivity. A study by Mail Manager found that nearly a third of employees based in the UK and the USA spend a full working day every week just managing their inboxes.
We’re not suggesting you should ditch email entirely since it’s still useful. Instead, don’t rely too much on email since not everything requires one. Also, try incorporating tools that enhance employee engagement, like digital signage.
A company’s ecosystem often consists of interdependent parts that work together to create the final product.
Usually, each team will handle a specific part of that ecosystem. And within each team, each member builds some of that part.
And since all these parts rely on each other, employees need to communicate with each other about them.
This also provides context and inspiration. For example, when you’re working on something, and you get a glimpse of what the final product will be, you’ll likely deliver a more refined product because you know what your work needs to look like.
That’s why each company needs an effective method to share knowledge internally, starting from upper management and down the hierarchy.
Did you know that some companies still rely on legacy tools like old computers and software?
Even more mind-blowing – did you know that, for some companies, the definition of a computer still involves tedious paperwork and manual computation?
In fact, TechRepublic reports that just 12% of companies in 2019 updated all their tools to modern standards, while a staggering 86% still use at least one legacy tool.
We understand that updating to new tools often sounds like a cumbersome cost, mainly if your business contains massive databases or paperwork. Besides, why fix it if it’s not broken, right?
However, companies that choose not to update their systems will eventually find themselves in a game of cat and mouse with rapidly-changing technology. And as the game goes on, the cost to upgrade increases.
Research by McKinsey found that companies that go digital are twice as likely as their traditional counterparts to report significant financial growth (25% or more) during a timeframe.
So if your company still relies on outdated methods, it’s best to update before the costs mount up.
A study by Glassdoor found that company culture is one of the top predictors of employee satisfaction.
You should understand your employees’ demographic before blindly following a company culture plan, though. For example, many companies opt for creating a family-like atmosphere. However, this approach isn’t popular nowadays, especially among millennials and Gen Z employees.
Instead, MIT Sloan Management Review explains that employees seek things like respect and support from their leaders. Naturally, a toxic leadership creates a venomous workspace, which is one of the quickest ways to lose employee satisfaction and, eventually, have your employees dash away.
Also, remember that actions speak louder than words. Unfortunately, many companies only preach their values and act the opposite way.
As a result, employees have grown to expect companies not to follow their own values as this article by MIT Sloan Management Review reveals. And when they see that a company actually practices what it preaches, it brings a sense of satisfaction.
As such, your company should stick to the values it promises and set an example instead of stating them and expecting employees to follow along blindly.
As we mentioned above, emails shouldn’t be the centre of your employee communication strategy.
Instead, you should use email in tangent with other tools and methods. And some of the best internal communication methods to enhance employee engagement are enterprise social networks.
Applications like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Facebook Workplace make internal communications much easier and less annoying to busy employees.
That’s because these platforms are reasonably close to instant messaging that everyone is used to nowadays. These platforms are also much less formal than email, which is a plus for many employees.
Employees should be part of your company story, not just a cog in the machine. This is another factor that contributes to employee satisfaction.
You can do this through internal branding, which is a strategy of integrating employees into the company’s external brand, and ensuring that they take part in its mission and vision.
Internal branding also strengthens your company internally since it encourages employees to live out its values and gives them a sense of connection to the brand.
As a result, employees will feel more natural about interacting with customers about your brand rather than consider it a chore.
Video conferences are another brilliant medium to use alongside email and enterprise social networks.
Instead of company meetings, a virtual meeting on a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Skype can quickly unite employees in a convenient setting where you can share information harmoniously across the whole organisation.
Video conferences can also be recorded easily, which allows absentees to view them at a later time and stay on par with the latest happenings in the company.
Following up on our point regarding internal branding, you should realise the value of employee authenticity during external branding, i.e., when speaking about your brand to customers, stakeholders, or anyone outside the company.
That’s because the power and sincerity of employees’ testimonies beat marketing campaigns and adverts that people are growing increasingly numb towards due to their increased presence in everyday media.
So try your best to get your employees interested in your brand to turn them into sincere marketers of your product.
All these points we mentioned aren’t etched in stone, and your mileage may vary.
If something we mentioned isn’t applicable to your company or simply wouldn’t work, then it’s time to think outside the box and look for creative ways to combat your company’s issues.
For example, if enterprise social networks aren’t suitable for your company, you could try corporate screensavers or even a custom platform for your company.
Case Studies of Large Companies With Good Internal Communication
When studying any new concept, it’s essential to first understand it at an abstract level, then look at case studies from people who used the principles.
This will help you understand how these principles tie together and how to apply them in your situation.
There are several great examples of large companies that implemented an effective internal communication strategy. However, we’ve picked only three to analyse: Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Amazon.
For a company to stay in business for over 135 years, it must be doing something right. And with the enormous number of employees Coca-Cola has spread over 200 countries, they have one of the most successful internal communication strategies in the world to keep everything in line.
Coca-Cola has been so innovative over the decades by creating a favourable working environment for its employees and allowing for a free exchange of ideas among upper management, management, and even employees.
Coca-Cola’s successful internal communication can be summarised into three things. First is an efficient messaging strategy. No matter the employee’s rank, any idea has to be heard and considered by the management and spread over all company corners.
For this to happen, the administrators choose which ideas have potential and share them on the company’s intranet. People can then comment on these ideas, share their opinions, and try to improve on the original idea.
Second, accurate communication channels. With over 700,000 employees that Coca Cola have, the company has to ensure that information reaches its intended recipients. So they built a wide network of telephone extensions, emailing systems, intranets, meetings, and notice boards.
Third is organisational behaviour. Coca-Cola has ensured that even after an idea flows through dozens of communication channels, the person who came up with it gets the credit they deserve. Therefore it promotes employee loyalty and shows them the company cares about them.
Sometimes less is more. Netflix seems to think so with the internal communication strategy it has adapted.
With a large company like Netflix, which has over 11,000 full-time employees and is constantly involved in shooting movies and shows, you’d expect they have a highly complex internal communication strategy with weekly meetings and lots of digital signage.
But it’s quite the contrary. Netflix chose to go simple with a strategy of brief online memos. That means if anyone has a question, whether he was an employee or management, they’d put their question in the simplest form in a note, and they hold meetings where the questions can be answered and stored for later reference.
The way Amazon chose to conduct its internal communication is through many communication channels.
They want to give all employees across every corner of the company a voice. And the many communication channels are for the employees to choose whichever one they’re most comfortable with.
Amazon also encourages an open-door policy, which means anyone can directly talk about anything with their direct manager. They also have an ethics hotline for employees to report any misbehaviours anonymously.
Other channels include regular in-person meetings, appeal processes, and executive escalations.
Conclusion: The Bottom Line
Effective internal communication is crucial to a company’s success. Not only because it streamlines the work between the various interdependent parts of the company but also because it increases employee satisfaction, which has a direct relationship with productivity.
You can incorporate several general methods into your business to make internal communications smoother. For example, you can update your legacy tools to modern ones, spread communication among several platforms instead of relying on email and focus on a modern and healthy company culture.
If you’re stumped or out of ideas, you can always innovate! Think of what suits your particular situation and develop a solution for it.
Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you with improving internal communication with your employees.