Internal Comms on a Budget

A 4 minute read

Often, internal communications can end up as an afterthought as organisations exhaust budgets on external communications. However relying on the company grapevine and/or informal corridor conversations to drip feed important company news is a lost opportunity in terms of empowering and unifying a workforce and benefiting from that all important feedback that can and will inform strategic decision making.

“Like a human being, an organisation must have an internal communications mechanism. A nervous system to control its actions” – Bill Gates

Although it’s a practical consideration, an effective internal communications strategy is not just about how much you spend, rather its focus should be about creating and enabling dialogues with and between employees and finding the most efficient way of executing this within the organisation.

With efficiency in mind, here are a few ‘low cost’ or ‘no cost’ ideas for structuring and facilitating ongoing, authentic dialogue with the organisation’s greatest resource – its employees:

Video calls/meetings

Skype is very useful for internal video calls. With features including group chats, file sharing, free audio and video calls, free group video calling, and screen sharing, Skype is one of the most accessible and popular tools available.

Video is an excellent tool to use when you want to tell a story.  It’s increasingly common for companies/individuals to record their own short, rudimentary videos to get their message across efficiently and smartly.  Such videos are easily recorded, edited as necessary and posted or shared from a smart phone in a matter of minutes.

Your screensaver – valuable real estate

That laptop screen is valuable real estate when it comes to employee communications. The blank screen can be transformed into a visually engaging digital notice board giving employees access to branding, video, calendars, graphics, staff updates, surveys etc,. Simple to update, this highly visible space can share internal messages easily and in a visually-engaging way.

Structured meetings

Surprising maybe, however in the smallest of offices busy employees focused on the day-to-day can be blissfully unaware of projects their colleagues are working on or the years of experience available to be tapped in to.  Sharing of information, skills and experience between colleagues can suffer without structured communications sessions.  Consider a weekly breakfast meeting (supplying the food is usually a good incentive 🙂 ), where staff and management have the opportunity to discuss company news, employee achievements, resourcing for upcoming projects and any other rolling agenda items.

Think about an employee intranet

A good intranet keeps your information organised, accessible and up-to-date.  There are lots of options available from the more expensive bespoke to low cost off-the-shelf packages.  The option you choose depends on the complexity of your organisation, staff requirements, organisation size, budget – to name just a few variables.

One proven and low cost tool is WordPress.  As it is open source, development costs are less than other solutions and it allows a wide array of plugins for social networking, polls, chat forums, eCommerce etc. WordPress has an easy to use content management system and can incorporate most requirements of an employee intranet – employee bios, presentation materials, company logos and project portfolios; image galleries and a company event calendar.  This isn’t a plug for WordPress – just a low cost tool I have used and can recommend! Happy to hear any other suggestions. Please post below.

Communications Calendar

And the last step? Once you have decided on your plan – strategies, tactics and channels – schedule activities and put it in the calendar.  This is the best way of ensuring consistency and that the various activities are executed, tracked and measured.

A well thought out calendar will focus and guide your communications efforts and can be easily understood by and communicated with management as you assess and agree those strategies that can best deliver on the organisation’s objectives.

Be consistent

As with any communications initiative, consistency is key.  Consistency creates the expectation for employees that they have a regular forum to exchange knowledge and ideas.  For management, it is a valuable feedback loop: using employee knowledge to better understand client and business needs and drive informed decision making. Failure to stick to your meeting schedule can lead to lost credibility and lack of buy in for your communications initiatives.

An independent marketing professional with 20 years’ experience, Suzanne Shaw, MBA provides advice and guidance on aspects of marketing, communications and business development strategies to range of sectors and businesses, from start-ups to SMEs to not-for-profits. Having picked up lots of useful hints and tips along the way, Suzanne is always happy to share her insights.