The Why and How of an Effective Internal Communication Strategy

No employee can reach a goal without mentorship – something that is effortlessly accomplished when a clear internal communication strategy is in place.

The Constituents of an Effective Internal Communication Strategy

Revamping your internal communication strategy is quite a painstaking task.

Today’s workplace is in constant flux and needs timely revamping of IC strategies to get with current trends.

Communications strategies and tools should be able to pivot and adapt during a crisis.

How diverse is the organizational workforce?

Organizational diversity, today is huge and comprises employees that range from 18 to over 60 years of age.

While the baby boomers are more comfortable with long-winded emails, millennials and Gen Z veer towards social media for communication.

The ability to get the right message through the right channel matters.

Is the internal communication strategy in line with organizational goals?

The success of a communication strategy depends on executive buy-in, and it must be at the highest level.

This is because the vision of these high-ranking executives shapes corporate strategy.

This exercise ensures that the internal communication strategy is in line with the overall goals and growth of the business.

Does the strategy tie well with individual aspirations?

The internal communication strategy should make space for individual aspirations.

Although it is hard to appease each and every individual, appealing to a cross-section of the staff will make do.

This will encourage workers to don the shoes of brand advocates who take pride in their organization!

Have deskless workers been factored in?

Not every employee out there works out of the office at all times. Take for instance drivers that power truck fleets, technicians who work in remote locations like oil rigs, hospitality staff, and construction workers.

There are about 2.7 billion deskless workers around the world today.

If yours is one such industry, this workforce must be factored in.

Is there room for two-way communication in the existing strategy?

If employees fail to understand why a particular decision is being taken, they feel disconnected from the organization.

There needs to be a clear path of communication that breaks down the intent.

How dynamic is the strategy?

A strategy that works like a charm today might not have the same impact tomorrow.

The fact necessitates dynamism. As digital technologies that surround us today evolve, so must the strategy.

From the assignment of tasks to companywide communications, the internal communications tool must be well-equipped to stay in tune with the times.

The strategy that you devise must answer the questions above in the affirmative. It all depends on your understanding of the organization and filling the gap.

Welcome to the New Era of Internal Communication

Cathy has a breezy beginning to her day. The bot on her internal communication app throws up a list of leave and order requests. All she has to do is approve or reject them.

That’s not all. Soon after, Cathy is reminded of a scheduled meeting at noon by the AI-driven bot.

She quickly accesses her Google Drive that’s integrated with the app, and sends off pre-meeting notes as secure attachments to her team.

In the evening, Cathy sends a welcome note to the 25 frontline staff members on-boarded through the internal communication app that day — without any of them having a corporate email address.

Welcome to the new era of internal communication. It’s smarter, secure, inclusive and more productive.

The use of cutting-edge technology is the backbone of internal communication strategy 2.0.

With deep advances in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Natural Language Processing, internal communication tools are leveraging technology to make everyday communication more productive.

The rise of bots in such tools can help you carry out contextual conversations with them, procure information, and also receive reminders.

Internal communication plans are also getting a boost through microapps. Using lightweight microapps, you can now integrate your favourite work apps into your internal communication tool.

This gives you single-point mobile access to all work apps and work becomes more efficient.

Silos have been a barrier so far for enterprise internal communication.

The frontline staff remained out of the communication flow since most don’t have a corporate email address, something that has been mandatory for on-boarding.

But today’s internal communication strategy removes this constraint and makes on-boarding a far simpler affair.

All your frontline workers need is a smartphone to get looped in and stay connected in a secure manner.

Today, communication is not only about staying connected but also about increased productivity. With the right bells and whistles in place, Groupe.io ushers in the new era of internal communication.

Internal Communication Strategy for Frontline Workers

Companies all across the world depend on their workforce to deliver results and propel their success.

A large number of these workers don’t work at a desk.

Industries such as retail, hospitality, production, manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and many more require their workers to mostly, or in many cases, completely work from outside of an office cubicle or designated desks.

As mentioned earlier, deskless workers constitute over 2.7 billion people of the global working population!

Despite being over 80% of the global workforce, these employees have been kept out of the loop of company communications for too long now.

This workforce engages with the company’s assets on the frontline such as customers, vendors, etc. Hence, having a streamlined form of communication channel or mode with this domain becomes imperative for organizations.

The lack of an effective workforce engagement strategy in organizations is leading to dispersed actions, each of which requires separate decision making, which subsequently increases the burden on the managerial level employees.

Therefore, each organization needs to address the following concerns for developing an effective internal communications strategy.

Relying on Traditional Communications Channels isn’t Effective for Frontline Workers

Emails have been the main mode of communication for organizations for a long time. But if you just scratch the surface, you’ll find that it isn’t practical for frontline workers.

Emails often have the chance of being overlooked or missed, and their effectiveness of relaying updates or information has been proven to be ineffective for deskless workers.

Frontline staff cannot rely on a mode of communication that isn’t accessible to them at all times.

Moreover, a recent study found that over 83% of frontline workers don’t even have a corporate email address.

Organizations often rely heavily on verbal or paper-based communication channels like bulletin boards or newsletters.

In hindsight, this is a very unreliable and ineffective way to keep the frontline staff updated about the on goings and requirements of the organization due to its lack of reach.

The viable solution to this problem-statement would be to define a mode of communication that could be easily accessed by the frontline workforce at all times.

Mobiles are the most practical solution for this communication gap. BYOD or Bring Your Own Device, which is a growing trend nowadays, is a very effective strategy that can help in the implementation of this solution.

Frontline employees should be able to join the organizations’ communication channels using their mobile numbers, which makes it convenient for the organization to reach and connect with them anytime, anywhere.

How to Overcome Adoption Challenges in Internal Communication

Being Cautious With Mobile-Based Communication Channels

More often than not, mobile-based communication amongst employees, whether non-desk or desk, happens on various third-party apps like WhatsApp.

The main problem that arises out of this approach is that managers have no means to keep track of the work being done and information being shared by the employees.

Having an employee communication app that connects the entire frontline workforce with their respective managers and heads of operations can significantly boost their productivity.

Communication Barriers Will Still Be Prevalent

Implementing the aforementioned solutions is still not enough. Some other elements businesses often miss out on factoring in into their internal communications strategy are as follows:

  • Time Zones
  • Employees Speaking A Different Language
  • Multiple Shifts
  • Workforce Distribution

These elements play a major role in determining the productivity of frontline employees. While solutions like Skype, Microsoft Teams, Flock, Slack, and so on, can garner results for the knowledge workers, they aren’t useful for the deskless workers.

The solution to this would be integrating an employee communication channel that can take care of these elements seamlessly.

With an app that supports in-line translations that can be localized to bridge the multiple language communication barriers, and a peer-to-peer communication option to eradicate the time-zone barriers, the internal communications strategy for your organization can be free of any loopholes.

The Top 5 Barriers to Your Internal Communication Strategy

Today, internal communication has turned out to be extremely crucial in any business. For the first time, it has an impact on a number of key business drivers like:

  • Employee retention
  • Employee experience
  • Crisis management
  • Brand reputation
  • Business growth

Organizations must have an effective internal communication strategy in place. There’s no shortcut to achieve it. Your internal communication strategy is best based on the pillars of:

Efficient outreach: The internal communication strategy should be such that it ropes in all employees — be it knowledge, deskless or remote workers — in an organization.

Employee engagement: The aim of any strategy should be to constantly keep the employees engaged with the right content and the right methods.

Workforce productivity: If communication is smooth and employees are well-engaged, the natural by-product of any internal communication program is high productivity.

A majority of businesses today have an internal communication strategy in place. However, they fail to make the most of it due to some common errors. Some make the mistake of relying on consumer-grade communication tools only because they are easy to use. They soon realise those apps don’t guarantee enterprise-level security, control, and convenience. There are others who make the fatal mistake of ignoring their non-desk workforce. And of course, have to pay for it dearly. Modern internal communication strategies can’t afford to have these counter-productive elements as their building blocks. Some of the common barriers to an organizations’ IC strategy are:

Compromising Security

At a time when no amount of security is enough, being lax about communication lapses is unforgiving. One oft-repeated mistake is carrying out internal communication via consumer-grade platforms like WhatsApp.

A 10,000-feet view might make consumer apps a great medium but they pack in a lot of trouble for businesses.

But consumer apps are not secure as business communication tools. They run the risk of sensitive enterprise data being leaked to a third party.

Compromising Control

If your internal communication strategy does not involve holistic control of your communication platform, you lose control of efficiency as well.

Leaving control to a third-party app or your employees leads to haphazard, irrelevant, and amateurish communication and security issues.

Keeping it Solely ‘Internal’

Does your internal communication strategy loop in all your employees? We are not talking about only those within the ‘internal’ confines of your office space.

Historically, frontline workers have always been left out of the loop, which results in poor communication, lack of motivation and productivity, and a rise in attrition.

It is not only mandatory but common sense to rope non-desk workers in your internal communication strategy if you want to make it highly effective.

Sending Irrelevant Communication

Roping in deskless workers doesn’t work if you reach out to them with irrelevant communication.

For example, you can’t send out desktop computer maintenance schedules to your construction field workers.

Continued irrelevant messages on their feed will slowly but surely wean them away from the platform.

If you can’t reach out to the right people with the right message at the right time, communication loses its relevance.

Restricting Activity to Communication

Remember, your internal communication tool should not be only a chat or a feeds app.

Businesses must be able to use technology to do more with their employee communication platforms.

A great enterprise communication tool should have integration capabilities, powerful built-in microapps, AI prowess, and high-quality analytics abilities.

No internal communication strategy is perfect. But, if your internal communication strategy has the above-mentioned errors, it’s time to fix them to make it more efficient.

The Importance of SECURE Internal Communications for your Business

Everyone has access to a truckload of data today. Employee tools have only made it easier. They dip into organizational data to make daily work efficient. Want to dial up a colleague? Just open the company phonebook. Need to communicate an office policy change? Just send across the latest company policy handbook. Need to exchange sales reports? Attach one with your ongoing conversation thread. Work’s easier with employee apps nowadays.

But don’t overlook an important factor: there’s sensitive company data exchanged all over. All this in a time of increasing security threats in the global business landscape.

In 2019, Canva, a graphic-design tool website, suffered a data breach that affected 139 million users.

In the same year, Capital One, one of the largest US banks, suffered a data leak where more than 80,000 bank account numbers and 140,000 social security numbers, and more, were stolen.

According to a research by IBM, the average total cost of a data breach is pegged at $3.92 million.

The cost of data and security breaches on a business can be steep. This is all the more reason for companies to take heed to security across all its digital platforms, including communication tools.

Security Lapses

More and more data is being shared than ever before. This leads to rising cyber-attacks and security threats.

This is why internal communication compliance is getting stricter by the day.

In businesses with a large number of deskless workers, the risk of unsecure internal communication is stronger.

Around 80% of the global workforce today is deskless and a growing number of them are connected through IM.

So, there’s a massive amount of sensitive official data being exchanged between on-the-go workfers on a daily basis. Any data leak or hack will cost the company dearly – in terms of both expenses and reputation.

Frontline staff are more susceptible to data leaks because:

  • They use their personal phones, which could be prone to viruses and other malware.
  • They might not be sensitized to best practices of secure internal communication.
  • Since they remain on-the-go, the chances of their phones getting stolen or data falling into wrong hands are higher.

There are organizational loopholes as well. While employee apps might not be strongly secure, companies could also lack strong internal security watchbodies that can prevent security malpractices. There are some basic errors as well.

For example, there are businesses allowing the usage of consumer IM apps (like WhatsApp, WeChat, FB Messenger) as employee communication tools.

Today, 35% of WhatsApp users leverage the platform to share sensitive business information and documents.

Consumer chat apps are not secure and have no centralized control measure through which businesses can regulate data exchange.

In this case, protecting business messages and shared files becomes challenging.

Getting Enterprise Security in Order

Security is becoming less of a checklist item and just another layer to add. It is a well-thought out part of organizational strategy now.

Security is one of the top technology initiatives driving IT investments, almost equal to cloud computing and big data analytics.

In two more years, the worldwide spending on information security is expected to top $151.2 billion in 2023. And a large portion of it is expected to be spent on security for IM apps engaging the desk and non-desk workers alike.

Security should be sustainable in organizations, not sporadic. The CIOs should lead the charge and incorporate a strong internal communication strategy and compliance in the organization.

They need to introduce security as a part of workplace culture and work practices.

The stepping stone is organizing awareness sessions and then ensuring stronger E2EE and protection from cyberattacks. There should also be prompt and effective troubleshooting and advisory teams in place.

Mobile-First Corporate Communication Tools: Features To Look For

No matter how powerful your message, without effective corporate communication tools, it is destined to make zero impact.

The question is what makes a great tool that an organization can rely upon for all its communication needs.

Corporate Communication Tools must be Mobile-First

A mobile-first strategy reaches employees wherever they are. It brings inclusivity, cohesion, and collaboration into the picture.

Security is of Paramount Importance

A secure communications solution ensures data security:

  • Strong data encryption
  • Biometric security
  • Remote revocation & data wipes
  • Role-based access control

Automation is the Way Forward

Corporate communication tools with built-in AI-enabled bots are most effective to achieve this objective.

A Push towards Process Compliance

From maintaining stocks in retail outlets to safety, checklists play an important role to get the work done on time and efficiently.

The point to note in this context is that such checklists necessitate deskless workers to either access nearby desktops or rely on paper documentation.

The lack of real-time communication to get the checklists filled is a challenge that managers frequently face. Mobile-first digital checklists are the ideal solution.

Deskless Collaboration without In-Person Meetings

Collaborating with deskless workers can be a challenge, but with the right features, it ceases to remain so.

File sharing, peer-to-peer messaging, a comprehensive directory of employees, real-time conversations, and the ability to receive read receipts can make the whole exercise effective.

Only those corporate communication tools that factor in each employee and department can catapult a business to greater heights of success.

The Importance of Instant Messaging for Businesses with Non-Desk Employees

According to a study, 73% of consumers claim customer service drives their purchasing decision.

Most customer service executives are deskless workers.

These non-desk workers perform the most crucial duty: their level of service makes or breaks a customer’s relationship with a brand.

Customer service is efficient when someone communicates these to the employees in a smooth, timely and efficient manner.

IGNORING DESKLESS WORKERS IS A Costly affair

It’s an age-old problem. Desk workers have always outshone their field-working colleagues.

They not only enjoy the best status and recognition but also the top advantages. This may have been okay a decade back but nowadays, it is not only archaic but also self-destructive.

The deskless workforce gets allocated – believe it or not – only 1% of the total enterprise software funding!

And when it comes to the vital aspect of communication, most of these non-desk workers stay looped out.

They feel like they don’t belong since most of the office communication is carried out via traditional channels like bulletin boards and emails.

Most deskless workers simply don’t have access to these channels.

Around 45% of non-desk workers don’t have intranet access and 83%, corporate email address.

This leads to low engagement and motivation levels among these folks, in turn leading to a high turnover rate.

Lost productivity costs due to disengaged workforce in the US lies between $483bn and $605bn.

Some organizations have taken “corrective measures”. They have ditched the traditional forms of communication and introduced enterprise communication networks like Slack and Yammer.

Unfortunately, even this step comes with a lot of baggage. Enterprise tools like Slack and Yammer are primarily built by office workers for office workers. So the benefits largely go only to the desk workers.

Thereby, deskless workers still remain disconnected.

EXPANDING THE LOOP WITH INSTANT MESSAGING

Here’s what the time is right for: instant messaging for businesses with non-desk workers. So far, the non-desk workforce sure has the ‘means’ (smartphones and other digital devices) and the ‘motive’ (need to be informed) but not the ‘message’ (inclusive and instant communication).

Instant messaging is the perfect communication type for the deskless tribe because:

  • Like others, they have strong access to smart devices. So platform-compatibility is not a problem.
  • BYOD is the new norm in businesses. So instant messaging gets an official pat on the back.
  • They are always on the go. So communication must be instant.
  • They are used to the social media experience. So there’s no training effort or cost involved for instant messaging.

Instant messaging is a great fit for deskless workers because:

  • It is easy and fast.
  • It is dependable, relevant and familiar.
  • It helps them stay connected with the rest of the organization.
  • This boosts employee morale and engagement.

For business leaders

  • It results in high engagement scores and greater productivity
  • It reduces miscommunication costs
  • It reduces turnover rates
  • Proper communication also means happier customers.

LEADING THE WAY

It’s only today that we are talking about employee communication in terms of desk and non-desk workers. The lines between desk and non-desk are fast blurring.

The future will see seamless communication among all employees, desk or non-desk, and there won’t be any need to write articles like this. Enterprise instant messaging will soon evolve as a culture within organizations that have a large number of non-desk workers.

Collaboration versus Communication – How Internal Communication is different from Collaboration

Company-wide emails, bulletin boards, newsletters, even print magazines—there are many ways of communicating essential company news to all the employees. This is commonly called internal communication within an organisation.

Internal communication, though, goes beyond just announcements addressed to your workforce. You need to make sure that all your employees have read and understood the communication.

This is all the more essential when you have a distributed workforce and a large number of deskless workers.

Collaboration vs Communication

When you read “app for internal communication”, it’s natural to think of apps like Slack and MS Teams.

These apps enable employees to create their private groups or channels. They also enable you to make company-wide announcements where employees can interact and voice out their opinions.

But there’s just one glitch: though these are good workplace apps, they’re meant for employee collaboration and not internal communication.

What’s the difference?

The definition of collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce something, whereas communication can be defined as the act of imparting or exchanging information through various means.

Collaboration is where groups of employees discuss and work together on the smaller picture and management gets a broad view of it.

Collaboration can happen over multiple platforms. Some employees may choose to collaborate via Whatsapp groups, some might use Slack or Teams, and so on. There need not be a single platform for all of them.

On the other hand, internal communication is top-down, where information comes from top management, providing the bigger picture to all the employees.

Internal communication forms the backbone for streamlined org-wide collaboration.

Though the traditional top-down approach is more one dimensional, today’s technology solves that problem and makes internal communication an engaging process.

But, unlike collaboration, communication cannot happen over multiple platforms.

Being delivered through different channels will lead to miscommunication and loss of information.

Does it really matter which app you use?

Using a collaboration app for internal communication will be counterproductive in many ways.

Organizations need to augment their collaboration tools with modern internal communication apps to ensure that all employees are aligned towards common goals.

Collaboration and communication tools need to coexist, but their functionalities are not interchangeable.

So what should you look for in an internal communication app?
Though internal communication follows the “top-down” approach, a good IC app will enable an omni-directional flow of information.

Here are some of the key features you need to look for:

Top-down broadcasts

First, of course, is a way to send out the information which is the primary function of the IC app. This information could be in the form of an announcement, a survey, or polls.

Consumer-app-like interfaces

Information needs to be easily available to the employees and has to give them a easyway to process what is being put out.

The UI of the app needs to be simple and not require the users to be tech-savvy.

Onboards frontline staff

Your frontline workforce may not all have corporate email IDs.

Choose an app that facilitates signing up with the help of mobile numbers or QR codes instead of mandatory corporate email IDs.

Targeted reach

Sometimes, you need the information to reach only a certain group of employees, like for instance, just meant for the employees working in a certain time zone.

Studies show that almost 15% of employees total work time is wasted on inefficient communications since their feed is inundated with announcements that aren’t relevant to them.

Your internal communication app should enable you to define groups and departments within the organisation to make sure the right information reaches the right people.

Mobile-first

While the app needs to offer exclusivity, it also needs to be inclusive in the sense that your announcements need to be accessible to your frontline employees as well.

Mobile friendly, simple apps help your deskless workers feel included and well-informed.

5 Ways to Ensure Great Employee Communication

De-siloing is the buzzword in enterprises today.

The most crucial step to get rid of organisational silos is strengthening employee communication.

However, in most cases, enterprise communication is lopsided, haphazard, and irregular. According to a Gallup survey, 87% employees feel the leadership does not communicate effectively with the rest of the organisation.

Inefficient communication becomes a liability for businesses.

It’s not that business leaders don’t understand the value of sound employee communication — that it leads to proper employee engagement and, in turn, to greater productivity. But are they taking the right steps to ensure that?

Take a look at these useful hacks that pave the way for great employee communication in your organisation.

Keep it simple: Most enterprise-grade employee communication tools lack a user-friendly experience. As a result, adoption rates suffer and weaker alternatives gain ground. What enterprise communication software need is a consumer app-like experience that guarantees employees the best of both the worlds — efficient performance and ease of use.

Keep it secure: In an increasingly unsecure digital world, data breach is a huge worry. Your employee communication tool should have the proper security apparatus in place so that sensitive internal data stays internal, even if accessed from multiple devices and by non-desk employees.

Make it do more: Communication shouldn’t only be easy but productive as well. You should be able to perform multiple tasks — all from a single platform. That’s why enterprises need to leverage cutting-edge tools and technologies to push the boundaries of employee communication.

Don’t let interest dwindle: Nothing fails like irrelevant and irregular communication. Sending the right message to the right set of people at the right time is key. This builds attention, increases click rates, and improves employee engagement. Your employees feel more trusted, valued, and thus, more motivated.

Internal Communication Trends 2020

Loop in your non-desk workforce: In the times of mobile and dispersed workforce, you should never commit the cardinal sin of ignoring your non-desk workforce. Think about it: More than 80% of employees today don’t work out of office environs. Making them feel disconnected and demotivated is organisational harakiri. Your employee communication tool should be designed in a way to strongly loop in your non-desk employees.

If you’d like to know more about how Groupe.io can help your business, write to us at info@groupe.io or schedule a product demo today!

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