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Is there room for improvement when it comes to internal communication at your company? Do you get the feeling that internal communication at your company could be better? Are you on the lookout for ways to enhance internal communication? Don’t worry – you are not alone. Improving internal communication is a challenge facing many companies. Whether SMEs or corporations, FMCG or construction, pretty much every company could polish their internal communication. Effective communication plays a key role in terms of achieving corporate goals. It is the cornerstone of knowledge sharing and collaboration.
But what exactly can you do to boost communication at the company? There are several approaches that you can try. You could, for example, be open about changes and future plans at the company in order to give employees greater transparency. Regular team events are another way of enhancing working relationships, while it is also useful to promote the sharing of knowledge and information between coworkers. These are just some of the ideas that you might wish to consider. Before you put any of these measures into place, you should think about the necessary infrastructure. But what tools are available to boost internal communication – and what do they do? A multitude of instruments are on hand to help you communicate with your colleagues. Read on to find out what they are and how they work.
A traditional intranet is an internal company network that features editorial content and provides employees with official information. An intranet can be used to share information quickly and efficiently with your staff.
The major drawback of a traditional intranet is that it offers employees little opportunity to interact, meaning that it is mainly suited to top-down communication. However, in an era of “New Work” and “Digital Workplace”, many employees want to have a bigger say in what goes on at the company.
A “social intranet” takes the traditional intranet a step further, putting interaction and collaboration between users at the forefront. Social intranets are perfect as a central platform for everyone at the company, as they are extremely versatile.
A social intranet not only fosters quick and efficient communication, but also makes it possible to contact employees at different sites directly. Knowledge can be shared, and files accessed, whenever and wherever, with people from different locations working together in virtual project rooms. It is precisely these factors that make a social intranet the nerve center for everyone at the company.
As a result, a social intranet offers a wide range of capabilities and features. It acts as a kind of all-in-one solution for communication, collaboration, and knowledge management. Most social intranets offer blogs, wikis, chats, and many other functions. When deployed correctly, a social intranet can take communication at your company to the next level.
In order to ensure a high degree of acceptance, it is important that the new social intranet is user-friendly. And a social intranet will only benefit internal communication if employees interact with it. On account of the wide range of functions, social intranets are costlier than some of the specialist tools outlined below (each of which is used in a specific way). In cases where a variety of requirements need to be met, thus necessitating a large number of functions, a social intranet is, however, always a worthwhile investment.
Chat/Instant Messaging Programs
Chat/instant messaging programs seek to minimize the number of e-mails, which are highly inefficient yet still extremely common, at least for the purpose of internal communication. The benefits are plain to see: the chat takes place in real time and is much quicker, as there is no need to draft a complete e-mail. This efficient means of communication can boost productivity by up to 30%.
However, instant messaging programs offer a limited range of features. For example, they do not support blogs or wikis, which represent other forms of internal communication. Therefore, these tools are ideal as a replacement for e-mails, but not for more sophisticated communication methods.
First and foremost, employee apps are designed to connect employees, regardless of time and place. While the focus is increasingly shifting toward mobile devices, the network can usually also be accessed via a computer. Here are some of the features offered by mobile apps:
- A directory of all employees and their contact details
- A diary with entries for events
- Employee information, such as menus and rosters
When coupled with mobile usability, these features make mobile apps an attractive information hub for employees. Thanks to an app on their smartphones, users always have key information at their fingertips.
The weaknesses of employee apps lie in interaction and collaborative communication. Unlike with social intranets and chats, the content of an employee app is only provided by selected users. These users act as editors and are responsible for the content. In terms of collaboration, employee apps do not provide any special features, such as work rooms, that allow you to manage your projects and collaborate more efficiently. Therefore, employee apps are not really suitable as a collaborative platform. But if you are in the market for a tool that you can mainly use to keep your employees in the loop and provide them with important information, then an employee app might be just what you’re looking for.
Project Management Apps
Project management software is the counterpart to employee apps. As it is specially designed for product coordination, it offers a corresponding set of features. For instance, task management – i.e. prioritizing and assigning project-related tasks – is a central element of this kind of software. What’s more, complex projects can be represented by workflows or project plans.
However, these tools are not really suited to any kind of communication that goes beyond project work. That’s why PM software is not the best option if you are planning to fundamentally overhaul or restructure your internal communication. It’s also worth pointing out that the other tools – especially social intranets – often come with basic project management features.
Forums can still be used to improve internal communication. An internal forum makes it possible for all employees at the company to speak openly to each other. This promotes unity and has a positive impact on employee motivation. Another practical benefit of forums is that all discussions are accessible to the entire workforce. Over time, this gives rise to a knowledge database that all employees can browse whenever they want
The main disadvantage of forums is the outdated technology. In an era of social media and instant messaging, this form of communication is old-fashioned. The fact that communication does not take place in real time, but is instead asynchronous (new posts and comments do not appear until the page is updated) and that there is limited scope for interaction between users may make forums a less appealing option for companies.
Blogs are a very simple form of communication. Nevertheless, they are extremely useful when it comes to keeping your employees informed of the latest company news. Thanks to regular posts on corporate news, personnel changes, and other general information, employees can be kept up to date at all times. Therefore, a company blog can also be used to generate greater transparency in terms of company developments. You can foster the trust and loyalty of your workforce by sharing facts and figures with them on a regular basis. With suitable formats, the blog can also be used to make the senior management team more approachable for everyone at the company.
Due to the one-sided nature of the communication (employees can only post comments on the articles), a blog is not conducive to an open dialog with employees. Instead, a blog mainly serves as a newsroom. On its own, a blog is therefore not usually enough to significantly boost internal communication.
A One-Size-Fits-All Solution? Think Again!
There are many different tools – and even more providers – that can help you with your internal communication. All of these tools have their pros and cons. If you are planning to overhaul your entire internal communication, a social intranet, with its myriad functions, might be the right solution for your company. Do you just want to keep your colleagues posted about company news? Then a company blog might be all you need.
As you have no doubt realized, there is no standard solution to a communication problem. Depending on your needs and objectives in terms of internal communication, one of the aforementioned tools will be the right solution. That’s why it is so important to be aware of all your requirements at an early stage – and to formulate, structure, and prioritize them in the form of a product requirements document. Only then will you and your team be in a position to evaluate the various tools and thus arrive at the right decision when it comes to optimizing communication at your company.