How important is communication within your business?
Whether you’re a small company of a dozen workers or a massive worldwide corporation, we’re willing to bet it’s one of your top priorities. From sharing knowledge between coworkers to supporting the culture of your workplace, internal communication is critical.
But when was the last time you looked at your internal communication strategy?
According to a study from Arthur J. Gallagher & Co, 60% of companies have no long-term internal communications strategy – and, according to a survey from Perficient Digital, only 13% of employees regularly engage with their company’s intranet.
In the last year, we’ve experienced a cataclysm in this area; the COVID pandemic has placed unprecedented strain on business continuity and internal communications strategies. We’re certain that post-COVID there will be a growing focus on this, requiring new and more comprehensive solutions that will make 2021 the year of internal communication strategy.
How do you develop an internal communication strategy in 2021?
First of all, it involves asking a lot of questions.
For a sound strategy, ensure you’re fully aware of all assets you currently have, and the ones you’ll require to improve. We’ve created a set of questions, grouped into five categories, to help you get started:
- Accessing your existing platform
- What communication channels are you currently making use of (e.g. email, WhatsApp, etc.)?
- Who are your internal influencers (i.e. who produces the majority of content for your platform)?
- Do you contact employees directly, or are you reliant on managers to cascade information down to employees?
- Setting goals for your strategy
- What would you like your internal comms to achieve?
- What are the metrics for success you can measure against?
- How should your internal communications act during a crisis?
- How can you test the strength of your internal communications system?
- Communications network segmentation
- Is your communication network segmented?
- How should it be segmented (e.g. By region, department, project or seniority)?
- How much direct communication does each segment require?
- What information should a manager be able to access vs an employee?
- Finding the right tool
- Does your current tool cater to all the requirements above?
- Do any of your employees have experience with a more suitable tool?
- Are there new or more suitable tools on the market?
- Do you have the resources to move to a different platform?
- Will moving to a new platform cause more harm than good?
- Once a tool has been settled upon, how often will you review it?
- Will you dedicate resources to maintaining the platform?
- Will your support need to change if there’s a crisis?
We believe that the last step is the most important – monitoring the success of your platform and adjusting for the future will help you sidestep some of the biggest challenges you’ll encounter.
Common internal communication challenges
The biggest challenges for an internal communication strategy are clarity and uncertainty. A lack of clarity can reduce engagement and create an environment where employees overlook messages and treat them as spam. Uncertainty creates a need for flexibility, as your communication platform must be able to rapidly adapt to new situations, or risk distributing content that’s no longer relevant or useful.
Strong internal content entered through a flexible CMS and distributed by a stable CRM system, is the only way to ensure you’re prepared to face these challenges in advance. However, it’s also important that you can check on the success of each internal campaign to ensure that your content, CMS and CRM systems are connecting with your team.
Expect middling to low results at first, and build upon them by reviewing your strategy and its performance. Treat internal communications like external marketing and your platform is sure to achieve success.
Many businesses though, have taken this a step further with a mobile solution.
Why you should consider mobile technology
There’s never been a better time to move to a mobile-based internal communications strategy. 2021 will be the year that millennials reach their peak presence within the global workforce.
This is a generation who can still comfortably use older existing solutions, but are more likely to adopt mobile technology. This trend of adoption is nothing new and it’s likely to continue as Gen Z takes up a larger presence within the workforce.
It’s important to adapt now before your strategy falls behind the curve.
What are the major benefits of a mobile-based internal communication strategy?
A mobile-based internal communication strategy provides a direct line to individuals within your organisation, whatever their position within the company. You’ll be able to reach employees who work in the field or don’t have computer access directly, instead of being reliant on management to cascade information throughout the business.
This feature alone will improve the efficiency of your communication network; each layer of management that a message must go through is a layer of complexity, with potential for misinterpretation and human error. In bypassing this process, you’ll eliminate this risk whilst delivering the message in a shorter timespan.
A mobile application will also include analytics features to tell you how many users have opened your message. You’ll be able to monitor the success of your messaging, and gain insight into how to make your future campaigns more effective.
How to implement mobile internal communications to boost employee retention and productivity
Mobile can enhance interdepartmental communication, creating a better environment for collaboration and productivity.
Co-dependent departments like product development, marketing and sales cannot work independently from each other. To be successful, they need to communicate effectively, daily, and to be efficient they need a tool that allows them to speak freely and openly, without the social restraints older methods impose.
Services like Slack, who have adapted the social media experience for the workplace, are ideal solutions for this sort of issue. Instead of having to navigate tedious email threads to find a group consensus, it’s now possible to create group spaces for departments, branches or projects.
They can also localise the experience, by segmenting your audience into easily distinguishable groups. This in turn facilitates the contribution of multiple employees and departments, which will help stimulate the conversation, whilst ensuring that the discussion remains focused and relevant to the issue at hand.
Ultimately, this translates into a greater feeling of understanding between employees and the company around them, often boosting retention rates.
How to implement mobile internal communications during a crisis
Depending on the crisis, it can be particularly difficult to reach out to all employees.
If the office is no longer accessible and your internal communication platform is desktop-based, you can guarantee that there will be some people (who either leave their laptops at work or don’t check them at home) that will miss the message.
Mobile communication completely avoids this issue by contacting employees on their devices, allowing them to check for updates from the business 24 hours a day. You can maximise the amount of information reaching your employees too, using push notifications in a crisis to immediately alert all employees to new information.
From a business continuity perspective, mobile internal communications empower employees to share knowledge remotely, removing blockers created by a staff member being away from their desk or laptop. A manager caught away from their desk can continue to instruct and delegate to keep their team running for days at a time if necessary.
How to implement mobile internal communications for a product launch
Now that we’ve looked at some of the possibilities that mobile apps open up to us, we can start getting a lot more creative with our methods of communication.
Embedded video, audio and interactive content can be used to both share messages with employees, and help them engage with new business developments and product launches.
If your business is about to launch a new product, you might want an app that gives everyone involved in the process a countdown until the launch date. You could make use of a virtual kanban board or other project management tool to monitor what’s going well and what’s running behind schedule. You could even gamify the process and give a visual representation of your team moving closer towards completing the project.
These relatively simple bits of functionality capture the imagination of employees and build engagement, further investing employees in the success of a launch.
What methods can you use to implement mobile internal communications?
There are many different services available straight out of the box, all with their strengths and weaknesses. Refer back to the questions we posed at the start of this article, and be sure to only commit to a solution once you’re certain.
When you’re happy with a strategy, focus on training and commitment to the new system – the longer your employees spend split between two systems, the bigger the impact it will have on the business, as confusion and frustration become blockers.
Managed quickly and efficiently, the implementation of a mobile internal communication system can take days and greatly improve morale, communication and output within your business.
There may not be a solution available for the changes you want to see. If that’s the case, contact Apadmi and we’ll help you find it.