Internal communication’s effectiveness, which is now understood for bringing benefits to both employees and the company itself, depends on the choice of communication channels.
The definition of an internal communication strategy predicts the choice of the channels that will be used by an organization. Therefore, each organization should consider having a mix of communication channels. In this way, you can answer to various needs in different contexts.
When deciding which channels to use, several factors must be considered:
1 – The organization – each company has itsspecificities and its unique culture. The choice of communication channels should consider each organization’s characteristics, in order to ensure that the channels are adequate;
2 – Employees – it is necessary to consider the position and profile of every employee. To know how each one communicates, what way of communicating draws each one’s attention and which channel allows each person to better understand the message. To know employees’ preferences, seeking for their feedback, allows companies to better define which communication channels to use;
3 – The message – each message is different. It is important to know the information you want to transmit in order to better adapt the way you do it;
4 – The channel – each channel has its specificities, advantages and disadvantages. When making the decision, these characteristics must be considered.
The internal communication channels
Each one with its own features, internal communication channels have been increasing over the years. Its use varies from organization to organization, as well as its effectiveness.
1 – Face to face communication channels
Still considered as the most important and efficient way of communicating, interpersonal communication brings a series of advantages: it allows messages to be shared in first-hand, without losing anything in its translation, but also allowing to identify and decode the speaker’s voice tone, facial expressions, body language and sincerity. These channels allow you to identify a message’s authenticity, and to deliver it more completely. On the other hand, they require time and, often, people’s mobilization.
Examples of such channels include web calls, conferences, informal meetings, knowledge sharing meetings, among others.
According to State of the Sector 2020, a study developed by Gallagher’s Gatehouse, which allows an overview of internal communication worldwide, it has been noticed a tendency to use more often open channels to larger audiences, such as web calls and conferences, that have a higher efficiency.
On the other hand, restricted events to managers and leaders have been reduced, despite their effectiveness of approximately 80%. This trend may be due to a more difficult involvement of employees nowadays.
Informal meetings, which are less frequent, are also highly effective, around 80%. With a similar efficiency, and with tendency to increase, we have knowledge sharing meetings, partly because there is a growing tendency from employees who want to learn more.
2 – Print communication channels
Print communication channels still are an effective way to reach employees in certain contexts. However, the tendency is to fall into disuse.
Print channels have as advantage the possibility to be taken anywhere, under any circumstance, while still allowing multiple contents at once. On the other hand, they can have a high cost of implementation (printing can be expensive), have negative consequences to the environment and can be easily disposable.
Some examples of printed internal communication channels include newsletters, employee magazines, letters, memos, posters and banners, flyers, and leaflets, among others.
According to State of the Sector 2020, only employee magazines have an efficiency of around 80%, with the remaining channels having less effectiveness.
Despite the less use of these channels and their low efficiency, posters and banners continue to be widely used.
3 – Digital communication channels
These communication channels have been replacing printed communication channels, gaining more supporters among organizations. New channels of this type have been appearing over the years.
These channels have the advantage of being easy to access, allowing great flexibility and quantity of content, and also being more eco-friendly. However, they often depend on the existence of internet and devices that some employees might not have or might not know how to interact with.
As an example of digital internal communication channels we have messaging platforms, videos, blogs, podcasts, emails, intranet, etc..
Regarding its effectiveness, the same study presents messaging platforms and videos as being the most effective channels, as they allow showing a more human side of employees, managers, and leaders. Emails are also an effective channel.
On the other hand, blogs and podcasts, as well as artificial intelligence, channels which are sought outside organizations, have low effectiveness. However, these channels are still recent, so their true effectiveness is still yet to be discovered, and their use is yet to grow.
4 – Social communication channels
These internal communication channels allow all employees and teams to be connected. They allow a horizontal communication and can bring together different areas of an organization and allow everyone to send messages.
These channels allow interactivity in different ways between all, allowing workflow’s alignment and effective team’s communication, while also enhancing segmentation and content management.
On the other hand, some of these channels can have a high cost of implementation and are dependent on the possibility of accessing the internet.
Before the pandemic, according to State of the Sector 2020, one in every two organizations used social channels as part of their mix of communication, with SharePoint and Microsoft Teams being the most used channels. The investment in these channels was still at an early stage.
With the pandemic and the consequent boom of remote work, there must have been an increase of investment in these channels, as well as a different perception of their effectiveness. However, only then it will be possible to identify these trends.
With different and several internal communication channels, each organization must find out the possibilities that might exist and, taking its culture into consideration, its employees and the messages that it intends to transmit, it must define a mix of channels that will allow an effective internal communication.
By: Sofia Neves, press officer at Media em Movimento
State of the Sector 2020