“The Next Level: The Business Value of Good Internal Communication”

Global nonprofit, IC Kollectif and partner IABC have released their latest report on the business value of good internal communication. Their studies examine the value of internal communication (IC) from the vantage point of business leaders while giving an inside look at the reality of the practice from inside several companies

‘The Next Level: The Business Value of Good Internal Communication’ shows that most board members & top managers recognize the critical importance of communication for their organization, but are unclear what role practitioners have. This report aims to change that perception by comparing recent findings and new testimonials.

In the extensive report, IC Kollectif draws on interviews with 33 in-house communication professionals and executives speaking on behalf of 20 industries from 25 countries across all continents, contributions from several teachers and researchers, the results of a global open-ended survey question, testimonials from C-suite members, and a review of published surveys and research reports.

By looking closely at the reality of IC practices inside companies, they explore how IC professionals can better position themselves as trusted advisors and key enablers and change the typecast of being irrelevant to corporate success.

Through their analysis, the group discovered a gap between “best-in-class” IC practices and what the majority of IC professionals actually report to be practicing. With that in mind, this report demonstrates how communicators can actually define their contributions to organizational success.

Notable findings in the report:

  • “All employees are spokespeople and are increasingly being viewed as potential brand ambassadors.” CEOs expect that employees are educated about the basics and, when necessary, are provided with well-vetted responses to potential questions.
  • Four factors were identified as the main drivers of IC objectives: Competitiveness, Socialization and Networking, Corporate Identity, and Operations and Processes.
  • Confirmation that the presence of a dedicated Internal Communication department plays a decisive role in contributing to the overall effectiveness of IC.
  • In companies with a dedicated IC department monitoring and quantifying of IC effectiveness is executed more systematically, increasing awareness on both strategic and operational IC aspects.
  • The identification of 22 factors that leaders credit for their success in effectively communicating with employees across large, multinational organizations.
  • Understanding the challenges that the company is facing is imperative; society’s expectations are rising, and employees want honesty and transparency.
  • Recognizing that IC practices provide a critical link between the business needs and the people, so IC professionals need to understand both.

Further conclusions from the report can be found here, but one of their most significant findings can be seen in IC Kollectif’s list of 10 Best-in-Class Practices in Employee Communication: ’10-from-10′.

In this paper, there were ten best-in-class practices compiled from interviews with ten global leaders in employee communication. The companies interviewed were recognized as top global leaders in internal communications: GE, FedEx, Johnson & Johnson, Cargill, Chevron, Navistar, McDonald’s, IBM, Petrobras, and Toyota. These practices were assembled into ten distinct points.

Here’s a quick peek at the first five:

1. Be a business leader first, a communicator second

Here we find that to monetize the practices of IC effectively, practitioners must be more than communicators — they must be leaders. Exhibiting a keen sense of the business world will ensure that senior executives view communicators as trusted advisors.

leadership communication
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One must become an expert in communication that supports business objectives to demonstrate the real value of good internal comms.

2. Begin with the end in mind — remembering it’s all about the “why?”

An organization must fully map out their goals and business practices to secure collaboration and employee buy-in. However, for employees to fully understand the purpose behind their organization, they must first understand the “why”.

Having an intranet is best practice for enforcing the company brand into employees. Make use of your intranet’s homepage; due to its high visibility, it is the perfect place to share the company vision with all employees.

With an intranet, messages from senior executives can be relayed to staff, effectively communicating a sense of purpose to employees. A News page can act as an access point for employees to receive critical information or hear positive news of the company.

Together these features work in as a team to strengthen and create a shared purpose.

3. Challenge — don’t “cheerlead” — employees

Baby Boomers are retiring from the workplace, and in their spots are the tech-savvy generations X, Y, and Z. Trends are growing inside of our digital workplaces such as social media, online communities, and employee collaboration apps.

These tech generations are a part of the ever-evolving, and as such, are always hungry for the next challenge.

intranet planning
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Yet, More than 20% feel their employer-provided technologies are pretty terrible. According to Gallup’s survey, “How Millennials Want to Work and Live“, 87 percent of Millennials say professional development is crucial to them. Anything less will hinder their desire to work, learn, and grow.

Why not nurture their growth with programs like training applications and learning management systems. These systems have the power to enrich your training programs with attention-grabbing features like video, audio-based training, and polls. Training and tracking their accomplishments creates employees that are challenged and engaged on a long-term scale.

Customer Magic Memories did just this with the help of their intranet, “Click”. See their story here.

4. Create a roadmap for change, but expect detours on the road ahead

Every road to success comes with its fair share of bumps along the way. A prosperous organization requires a well-developed plan and path to the future. The role of a communicator is not only to help develop this plan but mainly to communicate it.

While it is impossible to know what will happen in the long run, having a solid plan will help carry an organization through any crisis.

However, be sure to communicate both your successes and your failures. Failures are often defining moments. Not because they exhibit the knowledge you lacked, but because it’s an expression of the knowledge you’ve gained.

This open communication will build a much-needed trust in your staff. Shifting the mood from a letdown to positive is a powerful tactic for remolding the minds of your internal stakeholders and help secure that buy-in.

5. Build a detailed internal stakeholder map

In business, the input of your stakeholders is crucial to the success of any project. You need an engaged and supportive workforce to stand behind you and what better way to communicate with your staff than to create an internal stakeholder map.

This map will define the needs of all your stakeholders, from your front-line employees all the way to your customer support teams.

planning your intranet
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We know it is often difficult to satisfy the needs of all these different groups, but the key is a balance.

Minimize conflict between your stakeholders with clearly devised strategies and a strong commitment to your corporate values when deciding who to but put first. With proper communication, you can attack the small problems long before they become big issues.

Combining these five best practices in your internal communications plan will help your organization address challenges like retaining the best talent, managing the flow of information, and building a relationship with the company brand.

Interested in the other five best practices? To read the full IC Kollectif report, “The Next Level: The Business Value of Good Internal Communication” you can download it here >>