Both large corporations and small businesses make huge investments in their external, corporate communications, but many neglect what’s almost as important: their internal communications. While companies with solid internal communications usually have good external communications or public relations, the same is not always true in reverse.
Traditionally, internal communications was the domain of the human resources department within a company, but today, as the importance of internal communications is increasingly recognised, it has developed into a discipline in its own right under the umbrella of public relations and is often handled by dedicated departments.
It is important for businesses to recognise that effective internal communications can create a highly motivated workforce, reducing sickness rates, absenteeism and staff turnover. The result is reduced employment costs and increased productivity and profitability.
Where does internal communications sit within your business?
When implementing an internal communications strategy, the first step is to review your goals for communicating with your employees. No matter what industry or countries you work in, it is critical to establish a shared understanding with your stakeholders. Staff are generally considered internal stakeholders in both small and large businesses.
Some typical purposes of internal communications are: – supporting major change within an organisation, e.g. after a merger or takeover – communicating important messages from the management – providing people with the information they need to do their jobs effectively – raising awareness of business issues or priorities to ensure all members of staff are on the same page – motivating employees to boost their productivity – increasing the credibility of the management among staff and stakeholders – communicating the company’s vision to ensure all internal and external stakeholders are familiar with it.
Employees must be viewed as ambassadors for your business and naturally have a real stake in making your business a success. It is therefore important to make staff feel part of the bigger picture, keep them well-informed and engage in two-way communication so you can also receive their feedback on important issues concerning your business. This will no doubt enhance the relationship with your staff and add value to your business.
Internal communications specialists have access to a wide range of tools. The key is to engage effectively, deploying a variety of means of communication such as: – employee magazines – print and electronic newsletters – video and audio messages – intranets – posters – memos.
Internal communications in translation
Locally, internal communications encourages discussion among different departments and acknowledges the value of the contributions made by staff.
Internationally, start by carrying out a survey or focus groups to identify the needs of your internal stakeholders in your international offices. Give employees a choice as to the language in which they prefer to receive internal communications. Generally, it is advisable to provide translations of all your internal communications in the national languages of your international offices, as staff there will probably not be native speakers of the national language of your headquarters. As a minimum, choose a lingua franca for your transnational internal communications. English, as a global language, generally lends itself to this purpose. (For tips on how to select the best PR and communications translation partner for your needs, take a look at 'Choosing the best solution for your business: What makes a stand-out PR translation service provider?')
By mastering the art of internal communications and ensuring professional translations for all your staff, you will engage more with your employees and stakeholders, your communications will become more effective, and ultimately your company will become more efficient. In other words: you’ll be building success from the inside out.
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