If you’re wondering “what is internal communication in a business?” or unsure what internal communication channels are available to you, you’re in the right place. We’ve all seen how technology has changed communication, but it can all be confusing. What internal communication channels deliver messages effectively and boost productivity and loyalty?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, as various factors contribute to that, such as message content, recipient, and more. For that reason, we’ll walk you through the best ones and help you make an informed decision.
They’re the channels you use for communication within the company to transmit information of all types. Internal communication channels help manage the relationships between stakeholders of all levels within the organization.
To have effective communication, you must choose the right channel for your target audience and goal, especially when trying to reach remote workers. With many options, this decision isn’t easy, but we’ll go through the main ones and help you choose.
Digital Signage for internal communication is an excellent channel to use. After all, large companies can deliver information to hundreds of employees and get instant responses. In other words, you don’t have to wait for your employees to check their email or messages.
Not to mention, by using digital signage for internal communication you won’t cause them to stop working and read your messages, which can hinder their productivity and cost you money.
In addition, you can use digital signage to highlight content on display screens, such as company dashboards, meeting details, and event calendars. With such lively screens, you’re likely to capture your employees’ attention and increase readability.
You can use mobile apps and software tools on desktops as private messaging and chat channels. And they work for HR processes, employee self-service, and knowledge management.
Also, they allow you to update employees on current projects easily and quickly. In that sense, these channels bridge the geographical and emotional gaps you may face with remote workers.
Email is probably the most common channel, and most employees use it daily. We appreciate its versatility in supporting visuals, graphics, infographics, videos, and more.
However, be careful not to overuse it. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that some important information will be lost in a missed email. Where direct emails aren’t great for long exchanges, they work well for direct information in a formal tone.
Although they aren’t strictly communication channels and can’t act as their substitutes, project management tools facilitate collaboration. To illustrate, employers can create, schedule, and assign tasks with a click or two. Then, team members can view their tasks and keep track of their upcoming deadlines.
Discussion forums may seem outdated, but they have their place in internal communication channels. They help bring employees together, as they express their ideas freely and exchange information.
Personal communication channels are highly effective in improving employee engagement. We’re talking about leaders personally communicating with employees and encouraging discussion and feedback. However, it’s tricky because the success of this channel relies on your heads of departments. If they’re incompetent, they can create a bad work environment.
Face-to-face interactions promote trust and open communication because employees read the sender’s body language and facial expression, which solidifies their message. Just remember to set meetings with a detailed plan.
As for the downsides, these meetings can only have so many attendees, which is why this communication channel is better for limited audiences, private information, and controversial topics.
One of the most used communication channels today is video conferencing, as companies rely heavily on Zoom and Teams. The perk of video conferencing is that it engages hearing and seeing. So, it accommodates showcases, presentations, and workshops where employees can work together.
Even in our modern age, print is a channel for internal communications. After all, some workplaces use memos and newsletters, while others go 100% paperless. Printed material is usually clear and means less screen time for your employees. However, it’s a one-way communication tool that requires more time and money than other channels.
You can go back to the basics with notice boards, banners, and posters. These underrated communication channels are inexpensive and easy to update. They’re perfect for mission statements and company values. Also, visuals tend to attract the eye and leave an impression, especially if strategically placed.
However, they’re office-based, so they’ve taken a backseat to remote internal communication in an organization. Notice boards also don’t allow any back and forth.
Companies should promote open communication, but fear of reprisals can get in the way. For this reason, suggestion boxes are the appropriate communication channel. They’re anonymous and easy to access, allowing employees to express their opinions freely. When you add suggestion boxes, you’ll be more clear on how to increase employee satisfaction.
When you evaluate a communication channel, you have to look at several factors, which are:
Reach is more relevant today because the number of people who work from home since the pandemic has increased greatly, so people are lonelier than ever. In fact, as Job description library states 1 in 5 remote workers claims to struggle with loneliness, so how do you break that wall in the workspace?
You need to measure the success of your internal communications channel by looking at how many employees see your messages. Ideally, you want to reach all your employees on all levels. Also, you’ll probably need different channels to reach them all.
For example, messaging apps are easy to access and tend to reach even the most distant employees. Also, email has excellent reach to big audiences, as most people check their email from any device.
You don’t want only to use one-way internal corporate communication channels. After all, employees want a leader that speaks to them (not at them). So, consider how interactive or engaging an internal communication channel is.
You want company news, events, and successes to open the door for a conversation. But how do you allow employees to respond, give feedback, and so on? Use mobile apps, social media, and communication software instead of notice boards, printed material, and emails to deliver such news. Also, feel free to ask for your employees’ opinions and comments.
A key feature in quality internal communications channels is measurability. With internal communication metrics and analytics, you can measure your success.
In other words, you can monitor employee reach, engagement, profitability, employee turnover rate, or whatever goal you aim to accomplish via your internal communication strategy. If your channels don’t have them, you’ll have to take care of them yourself.
A good communication channel supports rich media, such as pictures, videos, real-time notifications, chatrooms, blog posts, and so on.
Using such diverse media will make your corporate messages more interesting and engaging for employees. Otherwise, they might feel overwhelmed with dense messages about policy changes or other topics, which will cause them to disengage from the content altogether.
You’ll want to reach your employees fast during emergencies, so you need a channel that’s easy to use and access. You probably won’t have the time to print out posters, schedule all-employee meetings, or film videos for people to watch. So, sending a message via your messaging app of choice may be a good idea.
Storytelling is one of the most engaging and successful internal comms techniques. People tend to respond better to stories that tug at their heartstrings than a bunch of slides. So, to heighten engagement levels, use communication channels that support storytelling.
Local content promotes lively and relevant discussions, as they’re near and dear to people’s hearts. And employees are probably more likely to engage with a post about a local site than a new branding scheme. We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t discuss those topics but that it’s helpful to go local every once in a while.
Money will always be a factor that you should consider when deciding on the internal communication channel.
For example, video conferencing is very cost-effective, as companies don’t need to spend money on venues and transportation. At the same time, it supports interactive communication. Also, videos are inexpensive channels, so your leaders can send out video messages with excellent reach and low costs.
Such a decision requires that you consider various factors, including the target audience, message type, and timing.
For one, you need to identify your target audience and their needs. For example, if they’re frontline workers, they might not have immediate access to a computer. But they might be able to check their phones for slack messages. As for young audiences, you’ll find social media a great way of promoting engagement.
Now, let’s see how the message type can influence your decision. If you’re handling a crisis or communicating a structural shift or other big changes, it’s better to do so in person or a video meeting rather than an email. The personal approach yields better results.
Otherwise, scheduling meetings for a short call to action is unnecessarily time-consuming, and a simple email will do.
Also, you can use email for messages you need to send to the entire company without expecting much of a reply. But what if you do need replies? An employee intranet allows you to share information and updates.
As for urgent messages, messaging apps offer you real-time communication solutions. After all, they’re easy to work with and have great reach. They’re also great for remote workers to discuss their internal collaborations. Last but not least, social platforms are certainly not a great fit for private information, so consider more secure channels.
If you’re thinking of leaving a memo with a note, audio recordings and podcasts can be a more interactive channel. Also, these messages act as conversation starters, empowering employees to use their voices.
As you’ve already concluded, you’ll need to create an internal communication channel mix rather than stick to one. This way, you can reach different target audiences and deliver the various message types discussed above.
Before tossing your current strategy out of the window, stop to evaluate which of your existing channels work or don’t work for you.
To do that, you can make the following table. In the first column, list the main communication channels you can think of (whether you use them or not). We’re talking digital signage, email, face-to-face interactions, intranet, video conferences, videos, podcasts, messaging tools, and more.
Then, fill the top row with different criteria, including frequency of usage, message type, tracking analytics features, and feedback.
Ultimately, we hope you’ve gained more clarity about the different communication channels available to you. Although there are tons of them, this works in your favour, as you get to put together your diverse internal communication mix.
This way, you can reach all your employees, increase engagement and productivity, and decrease your company’s turnover rate.
Now, you must put together your table to evaluate your current channels and create a better internal communication strategy. And don’t forget to incorporate digital signage; a screen is sure to grab your employees’ attention!