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8 internal communication best practices for success in 2024

The modern workforce is overwhelmed — with hybrid teams being peppered with overly complex communications, irrelevant details, and too-little context to make any of it make sense.

  • Why it matters: Only 14% of workers say they feel entirely aligned with business goals. And there’s a direct line between how they feel and how effective the communications they receive from their leaders are.

If executives can communicate better, teams will understand expectations better, stay more aligned with company objectives, and be a lot more likely to contribute to a thriving workplace. Eight best practices can improve internal communications, make collaboration easier, and give innovation more room to thrive.


1. Audit existing internal communication practices regularly

More than 70% of employees feel like they’re missing out on company updates, according to Gallup. Auditing your internal communication is a critical first step to uncover and address what communication gaps are lingering in your organization so you can address them. 

An internal communication audit aims to identify:

  • Communication trends. Is your message reaching everyone? Do they understand it? Do they respond? The goal is to ensure current channels are delivering as expected.
  • Hidden roadblocks or improvement areas. Check if any departments feel left out of the loop with company-wide updates. Assess how fast feedback gets to you or if it’s getting lost along the way.

The first step in your internal communication audit is to record and reflect on:

  • Your communication goals. An audit is more effective if you have current communication goals to assess. Your goals could be to boost reader engagement, send more meaningful communications, reinforce your company culture, or something else.
  • Your key audiences. Who are you responsible for keeping informed? This could be all staff members, executives, department leaders, boards, members, and remote workers.
  • Current channels and practices. How often do you communicate — daily, weekly, monthly? Who sends messages — comms, HR, peer executives?

From that exercise, you’ll have teased out your most important, or possibly some no-longer-necessary, communications that are making their way around your organization. The  next step is to rank how relevant and useful each is to the audience it’s reaching. 

The scale below can be your guide:

  • Irrelevant to this audience (0 - Importance score)
  • Inspirational, non-essential (1 - Importance score)
  • Important, but not timely (2 - Importance score)
  • Essential upon arrival (3 - Importance score)

Put your results together. For each unique audience you reach, what are they receiving, how often, and how important is it to the work they do? You can record your findings in a template like the one below to create a high-level view of what’s happening at work.

a table to analyze your audience

For anything that is essential, it’s time to collect qualitative feedback about it from the folks who receive it. You might do this through surveys, focus groups, 1:1 conversations, or whatever is most realistic for your organization. But the goal is to understand reader perceptions, likes, and dislikes about what they get, if they read it, and what might help them even more.

Capture their perspectives. Synthesize what each audience thinks of the current communications they receive. The goal is to identify what resources they value highly, where there may be gaps in information sharing, and what other details — like send time, day, frequency — might make those communications more helpful toward doing their jobs. Note what they’re asking you to start, stop, or continue doing.

A table to audit your communications

Remember, audits shouldn’t be one-and-done. The more frequently you assess your current communication strategy, the easier it will be to refine and improve how impactful it can be. Read our audit guide for more advice and ideas. 


2. Track metrics for success

Only 47% of communicators say their organization measures the effectiveness of internal communications. That’s a problem. Best practices for internal communications include tracking key metrics that can do two things:

  • Illustrate engagement
  • Ladder up to larger business goals

The right internal comms metrics can provide insights into the role your communication strategy plays in bottom-line business impact. You should assess reach, awareness, engagement, and feedback rates. In this case, look at trends in:

  • Delivery rates for emails or other key messages sent through your internal communication platform. This helps determine whether technical issues are preventing messages from reaching employees.
  • Open rates for emails, direct messages, and other communication platforms to determine if employees see your messages. This correlates to how engaged your readers are and could indicate areas of the business that need support or intervention.
  • Click-through rates for any communication that requires an immediate next step. Be sure not to overburden your people with required clicks—whatever is essential should be in the body of what they’re already reading. But when a signup or next step truly is required, tracking these rates will help gauge adoption and interest. 
  • Login rates, for intranets, apps, or other platforms that require it. If there are trends in which people flock to or times of day when they tend to, you will get insight into which may be your best bet to be in front of them. 
  • Survey participation rates, for a signal on how you’re doing. You need a critical mass of information to sustain and improve a strategy. Solicit it, reward it, read out on it, and create visible change based on it. 

Tracking these metrics is much easier using communication tools with advanced analytics features. Axios HQ provides smart analytics, helping you track open and click rates, reader sentiment, poll responses, competitive benchmarks, and a lot more.

Axios HQ analytics dashboard

Audience segmentation is your next-level intel. It can show how different employee or stakeholder groups respond to your internal communications. You could group your target audience into segments like:

  • Regions
  • Departments
  • Staff vs. stakeholders
  • Executives vs. employees
  • Managers vs. individual contributors

And then you can observe their engagement, feedback, and responses at large or by group. Once you’ve structured your data and gathered results, you can continue to refine an internal communication plan that addresses any opportunities you might have found. 


3. Avoid information overload

If you bombard a workforce with messages that are unnecessarily long and impenetrably complex, they’ll end up even more frustrated and even less informed.

Modern readers are more distracted than ever. To win their attention, you need to cut out the clutter, hone in on only the critical details and context they need to keep moving ahead, and deliver it to them on a schedule or routine that’s realistic for the work-life they lead. 

Our Smart Brevity® communication formula is based on brain science and focuses on formatting information to be clear, engaging, and memorable. Hundreds of organizations have used it to get smart, busy readers to pay attention when it matters. It helps them:

  • Prioritize key messages. Before hitting send, ask yourself, “What's the single most important thing employees need to know from this message?” Tailor your content to this core piece of information. 
  • Keep it clear and simple. Use plain language and avoid complex sentence structures or unnecessary jargon. Employ bullet points and numbered lists to keep your content organized. It helps!

Simple communication doesn't mean sacrificing substance. It means staying reader-first and focused on what the reader needs to know rather than what you want to say. Learn how Axios HQ can help uplift your internal communications and avoid information overload.


4. Create consistency in your communication

Less than 50% of employees and stakeholders say they know where to find important company context and directives. Strong internal communication best practices point toward being as predictable as possible to help employees build a habit of checking for updates and trusting you as their reliable source for them.

Here’s how to create a consistent communication flow:

  • Develop a communication style guide for internal messages. Highlight details like your tone, formatting styles, and general practices for your internal communications to streamline readers’ experience and build trust with them. 
  • Be consistent in timing. Unless there’s an urgent development, let the team know when to expect updates from you, and stick to that promise. This might be at an all-staff, department, or team level — or ideally, a defined cadence for each level and others.
  • Add new context to your cascade. Some messages will need to be repeated. But when new leaders amplify or cascade a key directive, make sure they are also adding new and useful context that is unique to the readers at that level. Repeating for the sake of repetition is tiring. Reinforcing for the sake of customization creates clarity.
  • Define internal communication channels. Give each channel its own purpose and identity. The way you use Slack and Teams vs. email vs. your intranet should be clear and intentional — and help your teams know where to look for what. 

Across all these tactics — and others you can fold in when you’ve nailed the baseline — you’ll have a stronger chance of employees building a reliable habit of anticipating and acting on the updates you share.


5. Use the right internal communication tools

Knowledge workers switch between different apps and websites up to 1,200 times per day. It’s easy to see how too many internal communication tools could overwhelm your employees. Finding the right strategic balance, though, will keep teams informed and focused. 

Prioritize tools that are:

  • Easy to use.
  • Accessible and secure.
  • Aligned with employee preferences. 

A survey we did on the state of essential workplace communications showed most employees would prefer to receive essential updates from their leaders via:

  • Internal emails
  • Formal meetings
  • Recurring internal newsletters

How employees get essential updates vs what they prefer

As your organization grows, you may need more tools for sharing company announcements and resources with employees.

Other vital platforms to have in your internal communications toolkit include:

  • Instant messaging tool. For quick updates, discussions, and brainstorming, instant messaging tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams keep teams connected.
  • Intranet. Create a centralized platform where employees can access company news, policies, procedures, and departmental information.
  • Cloud sharing platform. Cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive allow for secure and simple collaboration. Team members can work on the same document simultaneously, eliminating version control issues and improving efficiency.
  • Project management system. Tools like Notion or Asana keep projects organized and teams aligned. They provide features for task management, deadline setting, progress tracking, and communication within project teams.

Axios HQ is an internal communications software with a suite of features designed to improve your entire communication process — from planning and crafting messages to delivering, tracking, and analyzing effectiveness. Try it out to boost your employee experience.


6. Try rich media

Leverage images, illustrations, and videos — when additive — to enhance employee engagement. An MIT study discovered people can process visuals in as fast as 13 milliseconds. 

  • Use images and charts to convey complex topics or data in a shorter and more accessible way. 
  • Use short-form videos to showcase your corporate culture, amplify executive messages, show product demos, or capture employee testimonials. 
  • Use interactive polls and quizzes to transform passive viewers into active participants.

Yes, but: Remember to optimize your media content. Pay attention to file size, viewer and listener accessibility, and formats your teams have told you they appreciate seeing. Rich media can sometimes require additional time or resource investment, so make sure it’s right for you.


7. Collect employee feedback

Employees who feel their voice is heard and valued are more likely to engage with internal company communications.

Identify blind spots. Leadership teams might not always be aware of communication breakdowns or confusing messages. Employee feedback helps identify these blind spots and allows you to address them.

There are various ways to collect employee feedback on internal communication:

  • Anonymous surveys. Anonymous surveys allow for honest and open feedback. Ask specific questions about communication channels, content clarity, and overall effectiveness.
  • Focus Groups. Gather a small group of employees for a facilitated discussion about internal communication. This allows for deeper insights and exploration of specific challenges.
  • Open suggestion boxes (physical or digital). Provide an easy way for employees to submit feedback anonymously on an ongoing basis.
  • Pulse surveys. Short, frequent surveys can gauge employee sentiment on specific communication initiatives or channels.

Only 26% of workers say leaders define and accomplish an action plan when addressing challenging issues. Don't just collect feedback – analyze it and share key findings with employees.

Develop a plan to address the concerns raised in the feedback and communicate the actions you're taking to improve internal communication.

Lastly, employee feedback collection should be an ongoing process. Regularly collect input and adapt your communication strategy based on their evolving needs.


8. Encourage communication between departments

No department should operate in a vacuum. Once org-wide communications are in a more powerful position — and everyone is working toward a common goal — it’s critical to support cross-functional employee communication. It promotes a culture of accountability and helps minimize potential errors or delays in progress. 

Encourage departments to communicate goals, expectations, dependencies, and milestones with one another, or invest in helping each leader spin up a communication, template, and cadence that the whole company can benefit from. 

A few ways to foster casual and formal cross-functional communication:

  • Company events and team-building activities. Organize team lunches, game nights, or hybrid activities that encourage interaction and break down departmental barriers.
  • Live meetings. Facilitate inter-departmental meetings where folks can share relevant updates about their work and discuss new ideas. 
  • Written updates. Develop a newsletter or channel where employees can share best practices and departmental updates, track their progress and celebrate wins.
  • Cross-departmental training programs. Educate your team on the importance of interdepartmental communication and show them how it’s done. Implement a training program that emphasizes skills like problem-solving and conflict resolution. 

Most importantly, lead by example. Facilitate two-way communication across departments within your organization. Ideally, communication should flow down to lower-level departments, horizontally — to same-level departments — and up to your executive leadership.


The bottom line

Adopting strong internal communications best practices can drive organizational success. Regular audits, tracking key metrics, and sharing essential information are critical to prioritize. 

Remember, it’s not about how you want to communicate but what actually works for them

Go deeper: Discover how to identify your organization's most essential communications.


Internal communication best practices FAQs

1. What is effective internal communication?

Effective internal communication is the clear, consistent, and two-way flow of information within an organization. It keeps employees informed, engaged, and aligned with company goals.

2. What are the pillars of internal communications?

The four major pillars of internal communication are plan, composition, alignment, and measurement. Planning your communication strategy ensures it aligns with organizational goals. 

Composing clear, targeted messages for specific audiences maximizes impact. Aligning communication across channels and leadership ensures a consistent experience. Measuring the effectiveness of your efforts allows you to continuously improve and adapt your communication for a more informed and engaged workforce.

 

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