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What Is an Internal Communication System?

14 minute read - Posted by Daniel Wagstaff on Nov 7, 2018 6:00:00 AM

Internal communication is the driving force behind a happy workforce and, in turn, a successful business. Whether you are a company of eight or 800, effective communication can be the difference between a thriving, prosperous company and unhappy, unmotivated employees who have a direct and negative effect on business operations.

When communication in the workplace is effective and employee-centric, personnel feel more inspired, more engaged and become more productive. The tricky part is choosing the best internal communication system for your organization, which takes into consideration the culture of the company as well as the overall character of your workforce.

Why Internal Communication Systems Are Important

If you are one of those tasked with communicating with employees, you might sometimes wonder whether the effort is worthwhile. After all, employees are quick to delete an email, daydream through a staff meeting, and ignore even the most important intranet content. Still, HR executives cannot afford to ignore internal communication, something we elaborated in a previous post. What is more, consider these disquieting statistics:

In a recent Gallup poll, only 32% of U.S. employees feel engaged in their workplace, with 53% of employees being actively disengaged. As a result, 51% are considering a new job. 69% of managers feel uncomfortable communicating with employees in general. This could explain why 44% of employees do not feel senior leaders are providing clear direction about where their organization is headed. On the positive, companies with effective employee engagement programs achieve 26% greater year-over-year increase in company revenue.

Fortunately, with the rising focus on internal communications best practices has come numerous software programs that make it simple and painless. In a global survey of over 650 organizations, representing 25 different industries, 73% of businesses interviewed are planning to increase their investment in mobile communications this year. The report indicates that around half of surveyed employees can access corporate channels via their mobile phone. And with the digital nomad phenomenon well afoot, companies are benefiting from improving the experience their people have when engaging with company content on mobile.

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The Dynamic Nature of the Modern Employee Calls for Re-evaluation of Internal Communications

In a sense, a company’s workforce is a constantly evolving organism. To keep up with the pace and as technology continues to evolve, so should the internal communication technology transform too. And sure enough. Over the years, as businesses become more dynamic, internal communication systems have evolved to fit the needs of companies and their workforces better.

According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, 80% of respondents said that culture and engagement should be a top priority for organizations to enable them to respond to the needs of their personnel. Businesses are more interested in improving employee experience, in part because of the increased mobility of today’s workforce and the rise of remote employees. Specific industries such as hospitality and manufacturing have a largely dispersed workforce, but now, even companies predominantly comprised of knowledge workers are increasingly engaging the non-desk worker.

To adapt to such shifts, organizations should assess the available communication tools available to them and leverage the best of today’s technology to connect an increasingly dispersed workforce.

Why You Need to Rethink Your Internal Communication Systems

Regardless of how the workforce has transformed over the years, successful organizations rely on effective internal communications. Companies with highly engaged employees can reportedly improve operating income by 19.2% over a 12-month period. Unfortunately, many organizations are stuck to traditional communication systems that recent studies warn are no longer as effective. Consider email for example.

Email is probably the most utilized system for internal communications in the workplace today, and for good reasons: it is quick, simple, adaptable and easy to use. Another great thing about it is that you can also attach photos, videos, audio files, and documents.

Emails popularity with many HR executives has probably led to its overuse and detrimentally, to its ineffectiveness. With more than 200 billion emails sent and received every day, it is no surprise many go unopened or unread. In fact, the average employee receives 147 emails daily but deletes 48% of them. About 25% of employees think email is a major productivity killer. So how can you ensure your employees open and read (not just delete) your emails?

According to annhandley.com, “emails with subject lines of 6-10 words have the highest open rates.” The website also suggests that using the recipient’s first name in the subject line will yield a higher open rate; it’s personal. A recent report revealed that emails with personalized subject lines were 22.2% more likely to be opened. Furthermore, to make sure that your email is read, utilize other platforms such as social media or text messages which can offer a brief preview of the message sent to your staff.

Effective Internal Communication Systems

But let's face it: weekly newsletters and emails are no longer effective ways for getting your message across. You know, internal communications should be thought in terms of internal branding or marketing and must be prioritized as much as other communications with customers, vendors and other stakeholders. Moreover, it is ever more essential that your internal channels be immediate, targeted, measurable—and mobile. Most importantly, they must be faster than the speed of change (futureproof, to be precise).

Consider some of the most efficient, communication systems that could yield better results for your organization:

1. Intranet

The intranet is a private portal that enables personnel of a particular organization to communicate internally. For the intranet to be considered effective and useful, it has to be well designed, user-friendly, mobile-enabled and must be able to provide the information employees require. The fortunate thing about intranet is that whatever is posted on it stays on it, as opposed to email messages that can be deleted.

2. Digital Signage

Digital signage is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to internal communications. Already 60% of companies in the UK are using this channel, according to Gatehouse. Screens are placed strategically in the workplace to highlight real-time news updates, weather forecasts, company successes, and much more. This promotes the company’s brand to the employees while at work which will, hypothetically, inculcate in them the purpose and values of the organization.

It calls for putting a team in place that creates and schedules content and coordinating with them to get the right messages out to the right people at the right time. While some companies might deem this internal communication system as a luxury, digital signage can actually improve communication by generating interest, while serving as a medium for internal branding and thus enhance employee engagement.

3. Social Media

There’s no doubt that social media has changed human behavior over the past decade. Recent research tells us that 81% of Americans have a social media profile, and the average American spends two hours on social media every day.

It comes as no surprise that a new study by towerswatson.com revealed employers are now utilizing a host of social media tools to communicate with their workforce. Specifically, more than half of the employers surveyed say they currently use various social media channels as part of their internal communication initiatives to build community.

Utilizing social media does not simply create a platform for employees to “chat” on. Instead, it is about the positive results that occur through employee interactions, such as a higher retention rate of staff and the creation of brand advocates who are passionate about their work. By its nature, social media is designed to build community and could help engage employees on key matters.

4. Texting

There are compelling reasons why you should incorporate text messaging into your internal communication toolbox. With an average of 20 billion text messages being sent daily, translating to 7.3 trillion annually, you can understand why this is an effective communication channel. SMS open rates vastly outshine email (95% vs. 20%) thus it’s no wonder many HR executives report huge success with it.

Text messaging can be used to send important reminders your personnel, notify them about an upcoming event or deadline, reinforcing an announcement, for emergency notifications or updates, giving your workforce a quick morale boost, and gathering feedback through brief surveys.

As noted in the preceding that more employees are now working remotely or on-the-go, a text can be an ideal alternative, or addition, to posters hung within the office premises or even an email with important information. Texting has become the number-one preferred method of communication.

Understand the Past to be Well-Geared for the Future

Highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave a company. And internal communication plays a key role in employee engagement. Just like consumers, employees need engaging content about their company to get their attention. But faced with the ever-changing communication trends, organizations encounter greater challenges when it comes to communicating with and engaging their staff. It follows reason, therefore, that if you’re tasked with employee communication, you need to understand the past to prepare for the future.

Make employee engagement more meaningful with interactive, people-first tools which align employees to your organization and connect them closer to your mission, goals, and values. After all, an inspired workforce often goes hand-in-hand with increased morale, productivity, and improved customer satisfaction, thereby driving better bottom-line results.

Any serious business needs to make sure that they include RedFlag in their internal communications plan. RedFlag Mass Notification is the industry’s easiest-to-use employee communication system, allowing you to efficiently send notifications to organizational groups of any size, no matter where they are. Request a demo and find out for yourself.

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