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How to Develop an Internal Communications Plan

Statistics show 60% of businesses do not have an internal communications plan. But, they are essential if employers want to maintain employee engagement and productivity. Here's how you can map out your strategy.


Image of two chess pieces in checkmate - symbolizing the need for an internal communication plan

Effective communication is vital for any organization to succeed, and this includes internal communication among employees.

A solid internal communication plan can help generate a positive and productive work environment, improve employee engagement and morale, enhance collaboration and teamwork, and ultimately drive better business outcomes.

In this article, we'll explore the many benefits of having a solid comms plan in place and why it should be a priority for any organization looking to improve its operations and achieve its goals.

What Is an Internal Communications Plan?

An internal comms plan is a strategy developed by an organization to facilitate effective communication among employees and stakeholders.

It outlines the various communication channels and processes that will be used to share information within a company, establish clear goals and objectives, identify a target audience, and define the roles and responsibilities of your team members.

For a company to achieve successful growth, it must regularly communicate with its employees.

As you can imagine, an organization processes a significant amount of information every day through various channels, such as emails, Slack conversations, or Zoom calls.

Within these channels, meaningful discussions often occur, and to keep internal teams on track, the transfer of vital information between different departments must be seamless.

Without an effective employee communication plan in place, ensuring staff members are efficiently informed with the correct information can be challenging.

The biggest benefits of an internal communications plan:

  1. Ensures you have an informed workforce

  2. Increases employee engagement

  3. Creates a positive company culture

  4. Generates a channel for internal feedback

  5. Reduces "outside noise"

  6. Streamlines and simplifies collaboration

An effective internal comms plan should always contain the following:

  • Business objectives

  • Overall mission and values

  • Key internal messages

  • Communication channels

  • Team or staff members that are responsible

  • Project status

  • Any external marketing/communication plans

The goal of the plan should be to ensure employees receive the information they need in order to conduct their work properly.

How to Write an Internal Communication Plan

Poor employee communication can result in a string of challenges, where team members misinterpret information or fail to receive important updates, which as you can imagine, becomes frustrating for the team as whole.

If a piece of important information isn't passed down to the right people correctly, this can have a knock-on effect within the company. In some extreme cases, if internal messaging is constantly mismanaged, businesses may see an increase in staff churn as employees feel disconnected from the company's mission and goals.

Not only that, a lack of internal communications planning can result in a drastic reduction in profits, as customer satisfaction drops due to employees communicating different messages to customers. So, you know why you should have a plan, but where do you start?

Group of colleagues looking at something on a laptop practicing effective internal communication

8 Steps to Crafting Your Internal Communications Plan

On the face of it, an employee communication strategy is like a "to-do list." It's a document that determines:

  • What needs to be communicated to employees

  • When this communication needs to take place

  • How the information will be shared

  • Who's responsible for creating and sending that information

  • Deadlines (including approvals)

  • Analysis of metrics to determine success

1: What Is Your Goal?

Analyze your current internal communication goals. To do that, you need to get SMART.

Specific: Your goal should be clear and specific. When defining these goals, think about what you want to accomplish. Why is this goal important? Is the business already achieving those goals? Who is responsible for achieving them? Which resources or limits are involved?

Measurable: Why do the goals exist? How will you measure the success of this internal communications campaign? Measurability is key in gauging progress, so what data points can you measure to help prove your efforts are working? Employee surveys and questionnaires?

Achievable: Set a realistic goal that can push your abilities and improve the company in the long term. Then, ask yourself, does your talent pool have the tools or the workforce it needs to put your internal comms strategy in place and achieve the outlined goals?

Relevant: Create relevant goals that align with a company's broader business goals. Will the goals affect the overall business of the company?

Time-Bound: A SMART goal has a defined start and end date. Establish a timeframe that enables the goal to be completed, but isn't so distant that procrastination becomes an overarching factor. So, what are the timescales to reach each goal?

Setting SMART goals is great for guiding your internal communications strategy for the coming year as well as quarter-by-quarter.

2. Audit Your Current Internal Communications Efforts

Looking over what you already have in place is an excellent way of establishing the areas that need improvement. It can save time and money, as you aren't creating something a) from scratch and b) completely blind.

So, take stock of what is already happening in your organization's internal comms. Ask questions like:

  • Is there already a lot of communication with and amongst employees?

  • Do you only communicate on an "as needs" basis?

  • How many internal channels are you using, and what are they?

  • Are they effective, and can you back that up with analytics and data?

  • Who is responsible for your internal comms?

These questions will allow you to dive into what is already in place and the areas that need improvement.

3. Review Your Communication Tools

There is a wealth of communication tools available, and most companies will have chosen various tools based on their specific needs. However, when developing your internal communication plan, having a basic familiarity with the tools and the ones you are currently invested in is essential.

Teams who communicate effectively may increase their productivity by as much as 25%. —The Social Economy

Anyone who has audited their communication tools will often find some that are seriously under-utilized or even abandoned. On the flip side, you may come across tools that could be brought in to fill a productivity or communication gap.

Ask yourself what's working within your current setup. What channel is proving effective and driving engagement, and which ones needs to change?

Intranets (Blink, Slack, and eXo), cloud file storage (Google Workspace), task and project management (Clickup and Notion), and video conferencing (Zoom and Skype) are all essential in bringing teams together—especially if they are remote.

4. Outline Your Budget

Budgets are deathly necessary for internal comms purposes. Unfortunately, many business owners often opt for the cheapest route. Or they end up buying into the newest, shiniest, and most expensive channel available—but neither is the best path to take. Allocating a set amount provides the space to achieve more goals without blowing all the cash.

Look at what resources you already have at your disposal. For example, email might be a "free" resource, but when an employee needs an answer instantly, this traditional medium can be clunky and not suitable for sharing specific information at speed.

Would ClickUp at the "Business Plus" plan be a more effective option? What about Slack's "Pro" package, which allows instant messaging and file sharing?

What about equipment? Does your team need new equipment for content creation? For example, video equipment, lighting, microphones, headphones, etc.?

How about external freelancers? Will you be looking to hire a graphic designer to take on some of the visual marketing pressure, and how will you communicate with them?

Outline the software, tools, and people you need to have on board to enable the business to reach its internal communication goals.

5. Define and Understand Your Internal Audiences

Business communication channels can become noisy and confusing places. Therefore, understanding your employees can help to ensure that you're dispensing the relevant content to those who need to see it. Doing so can help reduce irrelevant information from consistently being sent to the whole organization. 

So while there are times when communicating with all employees at once is necessary, you should also consider that there will be smaller, individual groups you'll need to speak with on specific issues.

For the smaller groups, establish which communication channels will work best for the information you are trying to convey.

6. Establish a Schedule for Content

Within your internal communication plan, creating a content calendar is a great way to overcome content continuity and production issues. Editorial calendars are an essential part of your overall strategy. There is plenty of software to help you with your editorial calendar.

Adopting a content calendar and implementing it into your communications plan creates consistency in your strategy and delivery, a streamlined workflow, and better collaboration among your team, leadership, and various departments.

 7. Evaluate Your Internal Communications

Gathering quantitative and qualitative data surrounding your internal communications and analyzing them is the best way to understand how effective your strategy has been.

Sadly, many organizations don't measure their internal communications. At all! A study from Hollinger Scott found that 41% of businesses don't have a system that allows them to calculate how their content has been viewed on internal channels. Not having this information means you won't be able to determine how engaged your employees are.

The good news is that there are many resources and software out there that can take care of that. For example, analytics tools can help you gather the necessary quantitative information, such as how many people opened the internal newsletter. Sending surveys and questionnaires to staff can be a great way to get that valuable qualitative data.

Gather this data at regular intervals e.g. weekly, monthly, or quarterly. This will enable you to measure progress and see if there have been any decreases.

Other ways to measure the effectiveness of internal communication can include aspects like was there an increase/decrease in productivity, profits, employee retention, improvement in employee engagement, customer satisfaction, etc.?

Reviewing these measurements will almost always point toward you taking some kind of action. If you're finding that your strategy isn't effective enough, establish where it's ineffective, and find a way to improve it.

It’s Time to Start Communicating!

Reaching the right people at the right time within an organization is essential, an effective internal communication plan can help you do that. Every single employee plays a role and is part of the greater machine that drives a business. Without an excellent communication strategy, teams will struggle to reach the most straightforward business goals, let alone their full potential.

Implementing the above points will help get you on track toward designing a strategy to ensure employees are informed and on track when needed.

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    Claire Gould


    Claire Gould

    Hi I'm Claire, a Hobbit-like person who loves wandering the countryside with her dog and listening to heavy metal and podcasts of all genres!