Internal Communicationsby Val Lawson
What are internal communications?
Chambers Dictionary defines ‘to communicate’ as:
to impart; to reveal; to demonstrate; to bestow; to succeed in conveying one’s meaning to others; to have something in common (with another person); to have communication, correspondence, verbal or written contact; to have a means of communication.
‘Internal communications’ covers all these elements and all aspects of sharing information between an organisation and its workforce. It includes
- Telling people about the business mission, values and culture
- Providing information about their employment
- Giving details of services, structure, processes and procedures
- Sharing business successes and disappointments
- Explaining any future plans
- Recognition – highlighting what people have contributed to the business
- Making channels available for people to respond and give feedback.
It’s important to remember that communication is a two-way thing, so your policy should encourage the feedback of information and ideas up the organisation hierarchy as well as down!
Good communications and consultation involve everyone in an organisation, but, to be effective, they need to be well organised and take place in a systematic way. This is best ensured by having a communications and consultation policy that underpins the annual communications strategy and plan.
Many people see internal communication as just the regular staff newsletter or magazine, information on notice boards, team briefings, company intranet and suggestion schemes. However, there are other core elements, including recruitment materials and induction programmes. Staff handbooks, quality standards, health and safety information, processes and procedures are also internal communication materials. Some of this latter information set must be provided to staff as part of the requirements of the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations (ICE) and the Companies Act.
The concept of internal communications covers the whole spectrum from the ‘official’ team briefing or company newsletter through to the grapevine or jungle drums that seem to be so effective. While the communications policy and procedures focus primarily on the planned and controlled sharing of news, it is important to consider the unofficial channels too. Sometimes, when sensitive or business critical news is breaking, strategies may be put in place to counter any misinformation.