Every organization needs an internal communication plan to support its goals, engage employees and get feedback. Here’s how to set up a plan that works.
A good internal
communication plan benefits your organization in so many ways.
It can build
employee trust in leadership, help different teams to work toward major goals
and align employee experience with your public-facing brand.
Here’s a look at
the elements of an effective internal communication strategy and how to put a
plan in place.
When to create your
internal communication plan
There’s no magic
number of employees when it’s time to build an internal communication strategy.
However, it’s especially important to write and maintain a plan when your
- Different layers of management
- Multiple work locations or divisions
- Remote employees
- A temporary or short-term crisis (such as a global pandemic or a natural disaster)
formal plan helps keep everyone in the loop and avoids gaps in internal
What belongs in
your internal communication plan?
communication plan should always be tied to the organization’s strategic plan
and its mission, vision and values.
consistency in your messaging and helps keep everyone focused on the same
It’s a good idea
to integrate your organization’s internal communication plan with your external
marketing plan. Integrating your internal and external messaging helps align your company
culture with your brand,
which can help you retain talent.
1. Types of
information to share
communication strategy should cover the types of information you choose to
share with your people. Fundamentals include:
- Updates on progress toward company and team goals
- Acknowledgments of employee and team accomplishments
- Information about planned changes
A good plan also
includes a feedback loop that employees can use to share:
- How they think the company is doing
- Changes they want to see or suggestions for improvement
- Concerns they have that need to be addressed
This kind of
feedback can give leadership a clearer view of the company’s overall health. It
can also identify small issues before they become big problems.
2. Guidelines for
Even in very
small companies, leaders should have a clear idea of what they want to share
and what they want to keep private or share later.
to share and when to share it helps avoid situations where managers mistakenly
give their teams more or less information than leadership intends.
The level of
information your company shares with employees will depend on:
- Your organization’s core promise to customers
- Your company culture
- Your leadership style
For example, a
defense contractor may need a high-level communication strategy that keeps
employees informed without compromising sensitive or restricted client
A local nonprofit
group, on the other hand, may need to provide more detailed information to
engage employees and keep them closely aligned with goals and projects.
Whatever level of
transparency you adopt as part of your plan, always be authentic and
direct when you
communicate with your employees.
3. A schedule for
A good plan
outlines when employees can expect information, such as:
- Updates that go out whenever something occurs, such as reaching an important goal
- Regular meetings for messages that can wait
- Unplanned events that require specific communication
schedule your organization follows will depend on your structure and
how you operate.
For example, some
organizations have monthly conference calls with leadership and managers, and
then the managers cascade the information that can be shared with their teams.
have quarterly town hall meetings to give information to everyone at once.
channels to use
Depending on the
size and geographic reach of your organization, you may choose to communicate
through several channels, such as:
- Town hall meetings (in person or via video conferencing)
- Company intranet messages
- Social media posts
- Other channels, such as mobile apps, video and email
When you’re choosing
how to send your messages, think about the generational demographics of your
employees and how different generations prefer to communicate – email versus
text notifications, for example.
Then think about
how you can keep your message consistent and clear across the different
5. A plan for
communicating with employees in a crisis
crisis management or disaster plan should include several of the above channels
for internal communication during an emergency.
Having a plan in place
before a crisis erupts can help:
actionable steps that build confidence, trust in your management and brand
from feeling overwhelmed by a negative situation to a place of confidence and
- Demonstrate support for your employees
Should you find
yourself caught off-guard due to an emergency, however, setting aside an hour
or two with key personnel to strategize and quickly develop a responsive
internal communications plan is still feasible. There may be more trial and error in the execution of the
plan, but getting alignment and a putting in place a coherent strategy
potentially benefits management, your brand, your customers and, most
importantly, your employees.
to plan for every unexpected scenario, but our magazine, “How to manage your
business through a crisis”
has several key principles for your plan to follow.
6. Ownership and
should always own and be the key ambassadors for the internal communication
Depending on the
size of the company and how it’s staffed, they’ll most likely be working on it
with a communications, marketing or HR specialist to manage the plan itself and
reinforce the messages that go out. That specialist may also be put in charge
of updates, in collaboration with leadership.
To keep your plan
up to date and aligned with your goals, review your internal communication in
conjunction with your:
- Annual planning
- Strategic planning
- Any major changes in your business
One reason for
including internal communication in these events is to determine what to
communicate and the best way to cascade and reinforce key messages.
planning and regular reviews, your internal communication plan will support
your mission and goals, empower your employees and grow with your organization.
For more ideas on
effective management, download our free magazine: The Insperity guide
to leadership and management.