Internal Communication

Internal communication is becoming increasingly important. And not for nothing. As studies show that about 90% of a company's success depends on internal communication. That's why more and more companies are implementing various measures to improve the exchange of information within teams and departments. This article illustrates what exactly internal communication means and what opportunities it offers companies.

interne Kommunikation
Internal Communication

What do we understand by Internal Communication?

Internal communication describes a process of information exchange within a company. All communication in the workplace is divided into interpersonal (e.g. personal exchanges between colleagues) as well as organizational aspects (e.g. receiving new information from management).

A distinction is made between informal and formal communication. Informal communication describes a natural type of communication that is quick and uncomplicated. Formal communication has an official character and usually follows a firmly defined hierarchical chain.

Communication is a very general term. Even in a professional context, different types exist, such as verbal, nonverbal, external, visual or written communication. But one of the most important types of communication in a company is internal communication.

In every organization, employees communicate with each other. They exchange important information as well as experiences, receive instructions from managers and give feedback. The fact is: without regular communication, there is no appreciative working environment and no qualitative results. Internal communication is the basis of successful collaboration.

Differences among Companies

Let's imagine a small ten-person company. Employees and managers see each other every day and the exchange of information is usually straightforward. In small organizations, internal communication does not face any major challenges.

The situation is different in large companies or corporations. If communication needs to take place between several departments and teams, certain prerequisites must take place for this to happen. Established processes, helpful tools as well as well thought-out communication channels offer many opportunities for a comprehensive flow of information and a positive workflow dynamic.

How does it work?

Successful and effective communication can only happen when the following four elements align well with each other:

  1. Sender – person who sends specific information to a receiver.
  2. Message – information that the sender wants to communicate to the interlocutor.
  3. Channel – the way that allows an exchange of information between the sender and receiver. This can be a personal conversation, a presentation, a meeting, a letter, or an email.
  4. Receiver – person who receives information from a sender.

The concept of communication includes not only the transmitted information itself, but all participants in this process, including tools and strategies. The challenge is to ensure that the recipient correctly understands and processes the sent message.

Avoid Mistakes

To avoid mistakes in internal communication:

  • the sender should convey the message thoughtfully,
  • the content of the message should be prepared in a way that is specific to the target group,
  • the transmission of the message should take place via a common channel,
  • the message should arrive correctly at the recipient.

Which are the goals of good internal communication?

Internal communication has several tasks in the company. These include the transfer of knowledge and the promotion of motivation and employee satisfaction. However, one of the most important goals of internal communication is to pass on information to the workforce.

Regular communication ensures that specific information flows between all employees and areas at all levels. Internal communication is essential for achieving corporate goals. It helps to make decisions more quickly and to optimize organizational processes in the long term. It also plays a decisive role in communicating values and culture. Identification with the company and employee loyalty become stronger.

For companies operating internationally, it is particularly difficult to exchange information with teams from other countries. If the exchange of information does not function smoothly, errors occur and work processes are made much more difficult. Good internal communication structures ensure flexibility in the exchange of information and promote efficient working practices.

The shared experience between colleagues helps to avoid potential sources of error, to plan resources better and to achieve results effectively. Uncomplicated internal communication promotes the willingness of staff to perform and demonstrably contributes to the company's success.

Different tools such as intranets, instant messenger apps as well as other communication services enable flexible communication across national borders. In addition, digital applications reduce bureaucracy and facilitate the exchange of information and cross-divisional collaboration. Thanks to reliable, real-time communication, it is easier to implement collaborative projects.

What are the Challenges of Internal Communication?

In many companies, communication solutions were limited to a small range of functions. But the professional world is constantly evolving and requires new, flexible forms of communication. To be able to ensure qualitative collaboration, internal communication in companies must be independent of time and location.

Failed communication hinders the successful completion of tasks and has a negative impact on staff retention. It is essential to keep pace with the dynamics and trends of the modern professional world. Only good internal communication tools support staff and enable optimal exchange at both collegial and management levels.

What are the most Common Errors in Internal Communication?

Even in the best-organized companies, faults in internal communication occur. The following sources of error should be avoided at all costs:

  1. There is too little communication
  2. Wrong or contradictory information
  3. Communicating at the wrong time
  4. Communication as a one-way street
  5. Incomprehensible communication
yelling

1. There is insufficient Communication

If employees learn important information from the local newspaper and not from their supervisors, then something is definitely wrong. Communication through external media, as well as unofficial channels, should only occur after staff have already been informed through internal channels. All important information concerning the staff or the development of the company should therefore be passed on by management to the workforce in a timely and targeted manner.

2. Incorrect or contradictory information

Transparent internal communication is enormously important for gaining the trust of employees and generating sustained enthusiasm for the company. A trustworthy and honest exchange of information eliminates rumors, which have a negative impact on the working atmosphere and employee motivation.

3. Communication at the Wrong Time

To avoid irritation and misunderstanding, information to the workforce should be provided at the right time. If important content is passed on too late or too early, it comes not across as serious to employees. Good planning in terms of timing and content plays a central role in internal communication.

4. Communication as a one-way route

Communication is always a dialogue. If employees are not given opportunities to express their opinions and take a stand, dissatisfaction is inevitable. Active participation brings many benefits. Staff experience appreciation, identify with the company and contribute their own ideas.

5. Incomprehensible communication

Just passing along a complicated business management report to the workforce? Not a good idea! The information needs to be presented in a way that the target audience can easily understand.

Internal communication should be appreciative and trusting at all times. It is the task of managers to pay attention to transparent communication as well as common communication channels and to initiate appropriate optimization measures if necessary. Regular dialog is particularly important in extraordinary situations such as change processes and critical phases. Proper communication minimizes uncertainties in the team and strengthens the team spirit.

How relevant is Internal Communication for Companies?

Internal communication is the basis of the entire corporate culture and has numerous positive effects. It not only ensures a smooth flow of information, but also influences the working atmosphere. Internal communication is the supporting pillar in the company and essential for success.

Advantages for managers

Managers can share important technical and organizational information. As a result, the error rate is reduced and work performance is improved. Through transparent and respectful communication, managers motivate their workforce and positively influence employee retention.

Internal communication offers the following advantages to the management level:

  • Strengthen employee loyalty and team spirit
  • Building trust
  • Communication of the company's values
  • Opportunity of feedback
  • Good connection with field employees
  • Promotion of process transparency
  • Efficient work between different organizational units

The workforce is the first dialog group for the success of the company. When internal communication between all levels functions well, the quality of work improves significantly.

Advantages for Employees

Good internal communication is an important component of successful HR work. If information is passed on transparently and honestly, the motivation and productivity of the entire team increases. The workforce feels valued and sees more career prospects.

Tablet with Teamwork

Through regular feedback, employees experience the importance of their work, which in turn has a positive effect on self-esteem and personal development. Employees develop a better understanding of the company's values and perform more purposefully. Collaborative work on projects, rapid sharing of experiences, easy document management, and communication across time and local boundaries offer real added value.

Which Instruments exist for good Internal Communication?

State-of-the-art digital communication tools ensure a positive employer experience. These simplify everyday work enormously and allow a flexible exchange of relevant information and experiences. The following options are available:

  • Intranet
  • Social Intranet
  • Blog
  • Webinars
  • Digital Signage
  • Podcasts
  • Chats
  • Face-to-Face events

Intranet

In almost every larger company there is a so-called intranet. This internal, self-contained platform offers a specific group of people a wide range of important information as well as documents and forms that affect the entire workforce. In particular, this includes menus, process descriptions, training documents, event calendars or surveys. The intranet contains information that governs the company's day-to-day operations. What are the intranet advantages and disadvantages?

Advantages:

  • Increase employee motivation and productivity
  • Find important information faster
  • Simplify cross-functional communication
  • Ideal as a knowledge and content management system

Disadvantages:

  • Security standard ( a good firewall is needed)
  • Overwhelming the staff with too much information
  • Often very time-consuming and costly
  • Regular maintenance of the platform required (time and financial resources)
  • Possible software and implementation issues

Social Intranet

On the social intranet, employees create individual profiles, post interesting news, comment, write blog posts and share their knowledge. The most important advantages of social intranet: it promotes social interaction.

It also strengthens employee loyalty, collegial relationships, a positive "we" feeling, and cross-team and cross-departmental exchange. There are a number of social intranet solutions on the market that can be implemented depending on the needs and the size of the company.

Group selfie

Blogs

A blog can be integrated on the company's website or in the social intranet. It offers employees an opportunity to share their own ideas and experiences. An internal blog is ideal for knowledge transfer, information exchange and training. Blog posts and storytelling presented in an exciting way encourage reader interest as well as emotional connection. A blog can be implemented both intra- and internet-based.

Webinars

Internal webinars are a perfect way to communicate in-house. The content is presented personally by a speaker. Webinars are especially good for training, presentations and technical papers. With livestreaming webinars, questions can be addressed immediately and the workforce experiences more appreciation through personal, albeit digital, contact.

Digital Signage

Digital display boards installed in central locations such as foyers, meeting rooms or cafeterias. They inform employees about important events and news. The advantages of digital signage solutions are flexibility, visual presentation and interaction opportunities.

Podcasts

Podcasts become more and more popular. This is because they offer an excellent way to communicate certain Internet-based content efficiently and cost-effectively. Lectures, product presentations, interviews as well as conferences can be offered as podcasts and reach a wide audience. The digital format via PC, tablet or smartphone enables location-independent participation and saves travel costs.

Chats

Mobile business chats used via mobile devices continue to grow in importance and popularity. The results of Bitkom Digital Office Index 2020 show that 81 percent of companies already use smartphones for external and internal communications. Professional chats enable rapid exchange and efficient communication. Chats support flexibility in the organization and create a sense of participation.

Face-to-Face Events

Face-to-face events enable a direct exchange and provide space for a high level of interaction between the participants. Those present have the opportunity to ask questions in case of ambiguity and the trainer can respond better to queries. Gestures and body language can emphasize the importance of the content. This promotes interpersonal communication and motivation. Face-to-face events also provide an excellent opportunity to make professional and friendly contacts.

Successfully Implementing Internal Communication: What's important?

Successful communication in the company is the be-all and end-all. Factors such as willingness to perform, employee satisfaction and motivation are directly dependent on internal company communication. It is important to integrate a sustainable communication strategy into the company.

Opportunities for Successful Communication

The digital transformation has revolutionized employee communication. Flexibility, timeliness, interactivity, knowledge management - in today's world, many things are possible. But with new possibilities come new challenges. Analog tools are a part of the past. Digital and interactive tools are essential for successful communication. To successfully implement internal communication in the Digital Workspace, the following points should be considered:

  1. To optimize communication within the company, the first step is to analyze the target group. Generation Y and Z in particular attach great importance to digital communication channels.
  2. There's no point in creating complex platforms that the team won't use. All internal communication applications should be user-friendly and straightforward. In addition, fast-loading pages as well as fluid video formats are an important prerequisite for a good employee experience. People perceive about 80% of information visually. Digital signage offers vivid visual communication within the company and provides a memorable experience.
  3. Successful communication with employees requires clear goals, transparency and cooperation. A well thought-out communication structure avoids conflicts and misunderstandings.

Personalized internal communication brings many benefits. Employees have different communication needs, depending on their function, age, and experience. So why should the internal communication strategy be the same for everyone? It is recommended to create avatars for employees, teams and departments depending on the size of the company.

The biography, competencies, function as well as daily tasks should be taken into account. If a team works primarily in a home office, podcasts, webinars, as well as communication via email are ideal. Proactive employees like interactions and feedback opportunities. In this case, digital signage has proven its worth.

Internal vs. External Communication

Although internal and external communication represent two different variants of information exchange, both types of communication are highly dependent on each other. After all, only if internal communication functions well in companies can the company's external communication be successful.

External Corporate Communication Definition

External communication describes the exchange of information between a company and other organizations, group or individuals.

External and Internal Communication - the Difference

Internal and external corporate communications differ primarily in terms of their actors. In external communication, it is external partners, internal communication takes place between a group of people who belong to an organization.

More and more companies are turning to digital formats for internal communications. Current trends in internal corporate communications are moving toward flexibility and personal digital contact.

Fast and Personal

Passive communication or frontal lectures do not go down well with the recipient. Interactive content is becoming more popular. Recipients can interact and provide feedback. Involving the staff strengthens the team spirit and active participation promotes the learning effect. For interactive content, the use of digital signage software has proven particularly effective.

Multi-Channel-Approach

Boring communication via e-mail was yesterday; today, many companies rely on the use of multiple communication channels for internal communication. Chats, digital signage, blogs, webinars - the digital age offers a multitude of possibilities and takes internal communication to another level.

Employee Videos

Internal communication is an important building block in personnel development. Experienced team members can pass on their expertise to the younger generation. Employee videos have an authentic and more tangible effect and enable the active participation of the workforce.

Gamification

The use of game-type building blocks is one of the most popular trends in corporate communications The educational effect of active interaction should not be underestimated. Competitions and quizzes motivate employees to take part in various training measures and encourage them to participate.

Gamification graphic

Conclusion

It is important to keep pace with digital development. New content formats offer many opportunities and sustainably improve communication. The number of employees and the number of locations play an important role in the choice of communication tools. Employee surveys should be conducted and processes and structures analyzed to determine suitable internal communication measures. In this way, internal communication becomes the engine for business success.

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