10 steps to create an internal communication plan:
1. Measuring internal communication
To build a successful business it’s essential to
have a stable and working internal communication plan. But first, it’s important to understand what is the success level of your current internal communications,, and where it can be improved. Is the company interacting and communicating with its employees well or do they feel obstructed from essential information?
This can be done through various tracking methods:
Monitoring ratings and interaction (email open-rate, click through-rate , shares, star ratings, reactions)
Intranet analytics and surveys
Employee focus groups
External consultant audit
Each method should include simple questions to help better engage employees in the surveys and understand if your internal communication strategy is effective. Question examples:
Do you know what our company’s goals are?
Do you understand your role in achieving those goals?
Do you get the information you need to do your job on time and in a clear format?
Do you know where to find the information needed to do your job (e.g. the company intranet, collaboration platforms, outside sources)?
Do you feel the company communicates information well?
What can we do to improve internal communication?
The data captured from the above results is the core of
an effective internal communication strategy. It can demonstrate whether employees are engaged, aware,motivated, or not happy at work.
2. Defining goals and objectives
The next step to creating this valuable document is to
analyze your current communication goals in order to build a better plan and define the right objectives.
One of the most effective and easy ways is to use the
: SMART approach
SPECIFIC – What are the company goals? Is the business achieving those goals? Who works towards achieving them? How can the business reach its objectives?
MEASURE – Why do the goals exist? Can they be measured? (For example, to increase profit, productivity, employee engagement, internal communication…)
ACHIEVE – Are the goals attainable? Are they realistic and based on your business development capacity?
RELEVANT – Will the goals affect the overall business of the company?
TIME – What are the timescales to reach each goal?
Your internal communication plan will only be successful if everyone is onboard.
It’s also important to consider how employees are integrating with the goals. Do they understand them and their part in achieving them?
To determine the goals you should ask a series of questions:
Is productivity as high as it could be?
Do employees understand the company culture?
Is employee retention high or low?
Do our staff have a great experience when they come to work?
Do employees use the company communication platforms often?
Once the goals are established and their success (or failure) has been determined it’s time to plan how to achieve the goals, in conjunction with the support of all members of the organization.
Remember, your internal communication plan will only be successful if everyone is onboard.
3. Identify the target audience
It’s particularly important when producing an internal communication action plan to understand whois the recipient of the message.
The final plan should be available to everyone in the company, from the key stakeholders to the management to the administration and frontline workers . And each of these groups should be considered when developing the plan.
Everyone has a role in achieving overall company goals. It’s as important to listen to lower grade employees as it is to ask the opinions of senior management.
It’s also vital to explain to the whole workforce that everyone’s opinion counts. This boosts employee motivation and demonstrates good leadership.
Reviewing the results of the surveys will show what employees expect from the company they work for. The results will also show interaction patterns , for example, you may find that store workers don’t engage as often as head office workers. Or perhaps more people watch videos than read articles. Nevertheless, including everyone, at all levels, gives the opportunity to revise the communication methods and improve employee engagement. Only by analyzing these results in depth will a company understand the communication channels that work and those that can be improved.
4. Choosing the right internal communication tool
so many communication tools to choose from so it’s vital to select the right one for your audience. This means understanding the audience and what they are likely to engage with.
Think of this as a marketing campaign, using the results of the surveys.
Who is the target audience?
To which t type of content do they react the most?
How can you reach employees at different levels?
One of the most commonly used tools for internal communication in the intranet. Build to be a single source of truth, the intranet is the perfect communication channel for reaching everyone in an organization across multiple locations. Modern intranets can be the digital hub of your business, as they integrate and combine various communication tools like:
Google Workspace (Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Meet, Google Groups, Google Cloud Search)
Microsoft 365 (Outlook Emails and Calendar, Teams, Planner, Sharepoint, Stream) Zapier (document management and connection to apps)
Trello (project organization and collaborative working)
Slack (real-time messaging)
and many others
Each of the above can be integrated into a company’s intranet and depending on the requirements, different tools can be used to:
Produce interactive newsletters
It’s imperative to understand what each tool can do and how it can be used effectively for internal communication. If you don´t have an intranet now may be the time to consider one.
Or if you do have one, is it time to review its effectiveness? Could an intranet be part of your internal communication plan strategy and tactics?
Discover LumApps Intranet Platform
Discover LumApps Intranet
5. Creating the right message
Different target groups need different styles of message. But one thing is relevant to all groups. Internal communication should be:
The tone should be right for the group it is addressing.
Keep a professional tone, but at the same time humane and social. It’s important to draft your messaging right and you can always look for help from your external communications team or your copywriters to ensure your content addresses the audience in the right way.
Some examples of different internal communications are:
Top-down communication – when management present overall company strategies by internal news article, newsletter or email
Bottom-up communication – the opportunity for all staff, regardless of their position, to give their opinions through surveys, community posts, polls and group chats
Peer-to-peer communication – interaction between colleagues which promotes teamwork, often through professional or social groups
Information communication – such as company policies, product information, handbooks and manuals, annual reports… which may be required by everyone in the company or specific departments
Culture communication – used to reward and recognize employees, to inform of events, offer training and share social information
We mentioned before that you need to devise your plan by functional areas or department, but this doesn’t mean you need to create a separate plan for each department. Streamlining communication by location or business unit can be done easily in your intranet platform with the help of profiling and targeting. This means that employees will receive only the most relevant information according to their function.
For example, factory technicians may only find information on new health and safety procedures interesting, marketing may only want to know what products a competitor is launching, while everyone will be interested in the annual pay review. Add a section in your plan where you assign all employees to internal groups. This will allow you to make the right configuration in your intranet and provide the personalized experience your employees deserve.
6. Providing engaging communication
How often do you bounce off a website page if it doesn´t immediately attract your eye ? You have approximately 15 seconds to capture the reader’s attention, and this goes for internal communication too.
How to create captivating internal communication message? Internal communications should be direct, transparent and using the right tone. Your message, no matter the form you use (post, newsletter, email, article, etc) should not contain excess words or flowery language (this doesn’t impress). People are busy and want to read clear and comprehensible communications.
Here’s how to write messaging employees will refer back to and share:
Write an appealing heading that makes the reader want to continue
Use questions so the reader looks for the answers – is there going to be a bonus this year?
Make the layout visually appealing with spacing, color, bullet points and sub-headings
Write in a tone that is understandable to your target reader
Solve the reader’s problem – you answered the survey and we listened
Use visual graphic elements like images, graphs, video, etc.
Inspire action – tell us what you think about this initiative
Successful messages should be enjoyable to read, attractive to the eye, and motivating. Whether you’re writing an email or coordinating the complete internal communications plan, it’s all about communicating with employees and stimulating them. All documents should engage and encourage.
The layout is also important – always be consistent to present a professional image. An intranet is a great way to ensure consistency as it can store all kinds of documents from blogs, articles, post templates or even email templates.
7. Scheduling internal communications
Timing is critical when delivering internal communications. If you send an important message out late on a Friday afternoon it’s likely not many employees will read it. But send it on a Monday or Tuesday morning when people are ready for the working week and you’ll get more employee engagement.
Think about the type of messages you are producing. Social, internal, and external news messages are better sent during the lunch break or at the end of the day as they can distract from work. Similarly, people tend to work more effectively in the morning, so important communications will be better understood then.
If you have an intranet you can also analyze the times when people interact the most. You can measure:
Likes and Comments
Opening of emails
Adapt your communication according to your employee engagement habits and find the best time of the day/week to communicate.
Information overload is something many of us suffer from, at work and at home. The in-box always seems full and getting around to clearing it seems an impossible task. If you establish a balanced and consistent timetable for your communication, employees are more inclined to open,read,and take action. Send it at the wrong time and it might make it to the to-do list, but will soon sink to the bottom.
8. Providing an employee advocacy tool
A successful internal communication can promote and boost
employee advocacy. Engaged and motivated employees who love to work at their company tell people about it. They are probably your strongest brand promoters and can extend your reach more cost-effectively than advertising. If an employee believes in the company they work for and its mission they’ll spread the word. This can result in greater employee retention and higher caliber new hires.
So how can you translate this to internal communication? If you are already good at sharing information internally and your employees are engaging with your content, you can extend this externally. Internal communication is all about creating a stronger corporate culture and by boosting external sharing and advocacy you can build your brand reputation and improve your employer’s image.
There is of course confidential internal information, but encouraging employees to share public information externally on social media will only benefit the company. Share information such as:
Discounts and special offers
inhouse employee social advocacy tool, gives you control over what employees share and allows you to advise them on the message they use to share the information. In addition employee advocacy is a great tool to save on external communication expenses. If your employees are sharing your press releases, this can save you money on press coverage and external agencies.
You could even offer rewards for the most active ambassadors or to the ones that bring the most traffic or even to the once thanks to which a new top talent joined the company. Employee advocacy promotes company culture both internally and externally.
9. Identifying ambassadors
Who are the best people to promote your business and help carry it forward?
Identifying these key people will reap benefits. These people are often the key stakeholders in your business who will have external contacts. This kind of promotion can work on all kinds of levels, including:
Sourcing new suppliers
Finding freelance employees
Sourcing writers, translators, designers and printers
Finding more effective software
Hiring event planners
But this doesn´t only apply to key stakeholders. Finding out who has connections in your industry and could benefit your business applies to all employees. This form of marketing could be included in your internal communications plan but must be handled sensitively and in a professional way.
Ambassadors for your business can represent you at trade shows and networking events to promote your organization. Depending on the type of business there can be numerous opportunities to build your business using ambassadors.
Ambassadors often take on the role as an ‘extra’ task and are happy to do this because they believe in the company they work for. This can be a way to make employees feel valued. Finding your ambassadors can be also very beneficial for internal purposes, as those ambassadors will set good example to many other employees.
10. Measuring the internal communications strategy
At the beginning of this article, we asked ‘How do you develop an internal communications plan? When you’ve set your plan in motion it’s time to measure the results.
Determine what is being measured (recruitment, retention, employee engagement, new business…)
Work out how these can be measured (scoring system, financial, numerical…)
Track engagement through the monitoring of likes, shares, click-through rates and comments if you have an intranet
Monitor reach – is the plan getting to the right people and are they reacting?
Ask for feedback once a new internal communications idea has been in place for a while (this is the way to find out the truth about what employees think)
If your organization is large you can review demographic trends – do more Millennials read your newsletters than Boomers? Do U.S. employees react differently than U.K. employees to your publications?
Look at peak timings for engagement – when are people opening and reading your news and messages?
Once you have answers to the above you should look at what can be improved and consider how you’re going to do it.
Measuring a communications strategy is a rolling task that will continue to evolve as the business develops. Each part of the plan has an impact and the strategies and tactics you use will define the success of your business.