The tools of internal communication are diverse. The adoption of a particular tool depends on the intended objective and the target audience. We will list these tools according to the aforementioned forms of communication.
Tools for Downward Internal Communication in the company
These tools aim to strengthen employees’ interest in their work. The following categories can be distinguished:
Tools for Training and Informing
In this category, the following tools are found:
- Reminder of the General Employment Policy.
- Presentation of the Human Resources Department.
- Employment-related information: relevant collective agreements, hiring conditions, working hours, career advancement opportunities, transfers and promotions, absences and leaves, etc.
- Information regarding remuneration: salary policy, payment methods and dates, components of remuneration, annual tax declaration, etc.
- Information about social benefits.
- Information about the training policy: mandatory information given the contributions to the training fund (OFPPT).
- Useful information: travel expenses, participation in transportation costs, salary advances, changes in personal situation, practical information on safety.
- Company Organization Chart: An organizational chart has limited longevity, so if it is nominative, it will need frequent updating. Provided it is inseparable from the entire booklet, the entire booklet will need to be redone. This means that if certain parts such as salary data or the organizational chart need modification, the welcome booklet should take the form of a ring binder, with sheets reissued individually as needed.
- Institutional Brochure: It is intended for both external and internal use. When the company does not have a welcome booklet, the brochure can serve as a substitute. However, the information it contains is far less extensive and practical than that of the booklet. It mainly includes: history, organization, achievements, leaders, and the spirit or ethics of the company, regional presence.
- Company Newspaper: It serves as a link between employees and creates and reinforces a sense of belonging to the company. The internal newspaper reflects the life of the company (economic and social activities, news about clients, suppliers, achieved results, etc.). Although the company newspaper is an excellent tool for downward communication, an ideal newspaper is one that will become interactive shortly, offering employees the opportunity to express themselves in its columns. At that point, it will fully contribute to the development of internal communication.
- Information Bulletins, Letters, Notes, and Circulars: For bulletins, they can originate from various sources and be intended solely for internal use. They have variable periodicities and are of a topical nature. They are simple to produce and cost-effective, rarely exceeding four pages. If there are several bulletins, care must be taken to ensure they are in good coherence.
As for letters, notes, and circulars, they are opportunistic documents to be used case by case as needed.
- Bulletin Board: Being mandatory, this type must host information from the Human Resources Department, union delegates, and the works council. It will thus contain mostly regulatory information, notes, and circulars.
Tools for Mobilization
‘Mobilization is primarily the result of a satisfactory match between the needs and requirements expressed by the company on the one hand, and the expectations and individual ambitions expressed or felt on the other. No company can succeed in its mobilization without a deep and direct involvement of its leaders.’ Among these tools, we find:
- Open House Days: They can have an external or internal focus. In the latter case, these days are decided by the General Management or the Communication Department (or an equivalent structure). They aim to introduce each employee to the company as a whole, facilitating meetings and exchanges. Inexpensive, they are very effective and beneficial for the internal atmosphere.
- Meetings: In the context of downward communication, meetings are formal and aim to disseminate collective information. One meeting that holds particular importance is the annual convention. Its purpose is to review the past year, announce perspectives and objectives, and provide a friendly atmosphere for interpersonal relationships.
- Speech by the CEO: Employees wish to recognize a leader. The President’s speech responds, among other things, to the need for recognition of employees by the leader or higher hierarchy. It can be disseminated in writing or recorded on video. The latter option, by exploiting the fascination that television images exert, has a significant impact.
Tools for Upward Internal Communication
These tools aim to facilitate the upward flow of information. No support can replace a lack of direct contact. Upward communication shows attention and availability towards others. It allows for a real understanding of the issues raised and, subsequently, the effective search for the most satisfactory answers. It relies on the following tools:
Tools for Investigating
Surveys and Polls: These are the most common means of conducting an audit before implementing a communication policy. These opinion surveys and polls help assess the quality of the internal climate. They answer questions such as: What is the perception of the internal image? What internal communication tools exist? Are they appreciated? What are the expectations of employees regarding internal communication? Are managers good information conduits?
It is essential that the results of surveys and polls be disseminated and that the resulting measures be announced.
Tools for Stimulating
- Progress Groups or Quality Circles: This tool belongs to both the realm of upward communication and interactive communication. They are small groups of 5 to 10 people who operate permanently on a voluntary basis. They meet regularly at the initiative of a member who acts as a facilitator to study and analyze all solutions likely to improve quality in all areas of the company.
This tool offers employees a very interesting and motivating potential as it allows them to participate in a somewhat formal context. Also, it allows the company to benefit from productivity gains related to quality improvement.
The groups submit their proposals to the leaders, who review them and reward the best proposals during internal events.
- Idea Boxes: They can be very useful, provided the principle is perfectly respected. It is necessary to inform employees of their implementation, set a mission or objectives, link this mission to a theme, assign a fairly short lifespan, promise to reward the best suggestions, and put into practice the selected proposals.
Tools for Transversal Communication
These tools allow for communication between departments and bring together what specialization tends to separate.
Since transversal communication stems from downward and upward communication, some tools depend on the latter, such as the internal newspaper and meetings.
To these tools, we can add the intranet, which greatly facilitates and increases all types of informational exchange among collaborators. It promotes cooperative work and project coordination, making the company more responsive and, therefore, more efficient.
Furthermore, one of the most important tools for generating interest and involving all employees is the company project. We can read in the definition of the company project given by Hervé Serieyx: ‘It gives the company a direction.
It uses everyone’s contribution to build a “cathedral” together, a challenge that justifies fighting for total quality, innovation, speed. It offers demotivated employees causes that mobilize them, where each can find the opportunity to achieve themselves and therefore place their own adventure in that of the company.’
Containing factors of individual and collective motivation for each member of the staff, it strongly contributes to developing the famous sense of belonging, which in turn creates positive emulation.
To function successfully, the company project must be understandable by all, simple, concise, realistic, and ambitious at the same time. It must address the objective of each employee and contribute to ensuring the company’s sustainability.
The development of the company project follows, in broad lines, the same methodology as that followed for the development of the communication strategy. Thus, after taking stock, a starting diagram is drawn up, which will be presented in the form of proposals to the employees who discuss it, study it, and evolve it.
The final formatting is done by the management, taking into account the adjustments made by the staff during the discussions.
The dissemination of the company project can take several forms:
- Written document: company newspaper, posters.
- Video projection in meetings.
- Organization of a large convention.
If the company is geographically dispersed, it must be avoided that sites far from the headquarters are involved with a delay. It is important that everyone is aware that they can and must participate so that the project becomes the expression of all.
In the pursuit of realizing the basic project, a set of mini-projects will emerge, and which, added together, will allow achieving the final goal, provided they all remain coherent. Thanks to this perpetual dynamism system, the entire company from top to bottom of the hierarchy works together towards the same objective. It will be necessary, therefore, on an ongoing basis:
- Be attentive to collect information.
- Maintain staff information through a relay system.
- Train and stimulate executives to relay information.
- Adapt the discourse to various interlocutors.
After trying to touch on all aspects concerning internal communication tools, it is appropriate to address in the next article the means that allow the practical implementation of all that has preceded and the communication policy in general. This obviously refers to the communication plan.