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Internal communication strategies that keeps teams better aligned

Smart, effective internal communication can be the connection your employees need in order to stay engaged, productive, and aligned around your company's values and goals. 

  • Why it matters: The cost of getting internal communications wrong is steep: upwards of $2 trillion per year. That’s why you need an internal communications strategy that engages your readers and encourages them to actually read your messages.

Your workplace communication plan needs to be more than just corporate messages sent org-wide. A good internal communications strategy includes a variety of messages cascaded up, down, and around an organization on the topics employees want to hear about most:

  • Operational changes, like process, and policy updates.
  • Organizational goals, plans, and new initiatives.

However, organizations need to do more than just cover those topics — they need to do it in an effective, engaging way that prompts employees to absorb and act on the message. 

Five steps to build your strategy

A good internal communications strategy can make the difference between a workforce that moves in the same direction and one that frays. To ensure your organization is one that stays aligned, follow these steps when building your strategy.

Setting up your internal communications strategy:

  1. Get stakeholder buy-in: Before any new communication strategy can be deployed, you have to get everyone onboard with potential changes. Start by showing executives and colleagues what will be changing, how it will improve your sends, and the resulting positive impacts it can have on employee retention, engagement, and productivity. Telling that data story can go a long way in opening minds to new ways of doing things. 
  2. Audit: Determine what you currently cover, what you’re leaving out, and what employees actually want to hear from you.
  3. Plan: Reflect on who your audience is and what they need to hear to act on your message. Then, set a high bar for what they need to know, how often they need updates about those topics, and in which channels they’ll realistically engage with them.
  4. Send: Implement a consistent cadence to build trust, ensuring colleagues know when information is coming. Becoming that single point of contact and truth allows you to curate expectations while sharing key information when and where readers need it.  
  5. Revise: Based on metrics and an open feedback loop with readers, determine what’s working, what needs to be addressed, and where you can improve on future sends. It might be as simple as sending at one of the best times for internal communication, or it could mean combining updates into a more singular source of truth to cut back on inbox overload. 

Every company will have a unique send cadence that covers the issues most important to those readers. But unless you work closely with colleagues and your audience, you’ll continue to send messages that might just miss the mark. 

Internal communication best practices

Even the most carefully planned strategy can go awry if your audience doesn’t actually read your updates. Make sure they are reader-friendly by following some tried and true methods to catch — and keep — audience attention. 

Top internal communications tips:

  • Be efficient. Don’t bury the core of your message in a lot of text. 60% to 80% of people will only scan, not read, what you write, University of Maryland research found. So get to the point quickly.    
  • Be smart. Make sure people don’t skim past important bits by using smart formatting to draw attention to key points and takeaways. This can include bulleted lists and other Smart Brevity ways to get your message across. 
  • Be timely. Communicating with a consistent cadence can build trust and culture by establishing a go-to source of truth that employees can count on time and time again. 
  • Be transparent. Communicate with honesty and transparency no matter the topic — because maintaining trust while delivering difficult news is key. 
  • Be succinct. Examine current sends and consolidate cross-company updates into more concise messages targeted to your unique audiences. That way, you can reinforce, not repeat or overwhelm, your audience with multiple messages clogging their inboxes.   
  • Be collaborative. You can’t cover all aspects of what your employees need to know about your org all on your own. Bring in colleagues as necessary to contribute to company-wide sends so that all employees stay aligned around key directives. 
  • Be a better writer. Get your message across using the latest best practices and writing platforms infused with AI for faster turnaround. Even non-writers can start off with more solid drafts using best-in-class communications tools.
  • Be thoughtful. Cover the topics employees want to hear, making sure it’s not all business all the time. Weave in fun company culture updates, employee successes, and DEI updates in addition to performance updates and announcements. 

The bottom line: Create an internal communications strategy that engages your audience, keeps them counting on your updates, and gets them to act on what they’ve read. Doing so sets you up for a more aligned organization.  

Go deeper: The 2023 state of essential workplace communications


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