9 Effective Internal Communication Tools
From intranets to digital screens, employee social networks and more, these are the internal communication tools to know about for effective employee communications. When employees want to open company messages as much as personal ones, that’s how you know you’ve done internal communication right.
There are now hundreds of options for workplace tools under the banner of “internal communication”. The difficulty is in finding the ones that are engaging and effective in solving employee problems.
As our Head of Customer Support, Adam said: “Anyone can turn up at the gym. But knowing what to do there? That’s not a given. There are questions around which muscle group to train, how heavy to load your weights, what type of exercises to do, what “good” form looks like. If you’re going to give someone a tool to use, they also need to know what to do with it.”
It’s a great point.
In this guide, we share tools that are designed to improve internal communication and what to do with them.
1. Intranets and forums
What is an intranet?
An intranet is a private network that’s connected via the web. It’s designed as a centralized, and ideally private, channel for internal communications where employees can gather, share and access information.
An intranet becomes a hub for every aspect of communication; from sharing documents to company social media updates, photo-sharing, project notes and more. The “homepage” section of an intranet increases the visibility of company-wide information and important notices. Dedicated sections and channels mean that employees have access to all of the information available, but can focus on the areas that are relevant to them.
- An intranet is a closed community, so private information can be shared in the company, without outsiders gaining access
- It’s online so members can work collaboratively (no more updating Word Docs to send round)
- It can be split into dedicated sections and channels, helping to order information
- It can host files such as documents and spreadsheets, making them easily accessible
- Within an intranet all conversations are public, so information is available to all teams across projects
Intranet tool example: Igloo
When you hear the word “intranet” you probably think of something clunky and outdated. But Igloo is here to change all that. Igloo is an intranet tool that pulls together all of the resources that are important to a team. It allows you to create “hubs” of information, team rooms where people can discuss ideas and in-depth knowledge bases so that no one has to ask the same question twice.
2. Digital signage
What is digital signage?
Information we see or scan permeates our thought process — now imagine if you could do that within the workplace. Digital signage involves placing screens in strategic positions. It’s one of the lesser known tools for workplace communication, but it can also be one of the most powerful.
If you feel that not much company information is actually absorbed by team members, then digital screens could help. Implementing a passive method of sharing information increases the flow of company updates, without adding yet another channel the employee has to actively check. Screens can focus on one piece of information or data, or add lots of ever-changing content depending on the information employees need. They can be managed by one person, a team, or the entire company; and they can be updated cheaply and easily.
Digital signage benefits:
- Information can be updated and immediately deployed - no waiting for printouts or design
- Data you already have, like Zendesk customer service stats, or your number of Facebook page fans, can be connected to screens using apps
- Screens radiate information that employees can consume while they work - they don’t have to read a handbook or open an email
- Screens can be scheduled to play different content at different times
- Screens can solve the problem of silos across multi-location corporations
Digital signage tool example: ScreenCloud
With ScreenCloud you can share any content you like to your digital screens, through schedules and playlists. This allows you to take the most important information and give it an office-wide view. This could be in your office, team room, reception, lobby or even in the lunch café.
ScreenCloud allows you to create content using over 60 different apps in the App Store such as social media feeds, news, world information and dashboards from customer support tools like Zendesk. Then you have playlists and scheduling, which allow you to create different content for different departments, days of week and times of day. As well as “emergency” takeovers where you can broadcast crucial information to your teams, as and when needed.
3. Instant messaging tools
What is an instant messaging tool?
An instant messaging tool allows you to communicate instantly and send messages of text, photos, videos or web links to other people within your company. When you craft an email, you know it’s going to sit in someone’s inbox and potentially be referred back to later in the day. With instant messaging, it’s instantaneous so you can give less thought to the way you say hello, or how you sign-off.
Instant messaging channels are also set up for group discussions. For example, you may have one 'room' dedicated to Marketing and another for Sales. This allows everyone to share relevant information, without clogging up your inbox with emails.
Instant messaging benefits:
- An agile way to share information and ask questions
- Lower volume email inboxes
- Open conversations that can be searched, rather than private conversations happening solely on email
- Easy video and voice call access, often free across locations
- Ability to share documents, photos and videos in one place
Instant messaging tool example: Flock
Flock has all of the features you may need for sharing information with your team, fast. It also has to do lists, notes and integrations with your Google Drive, making pulling in and working on documents much faster.
4. Collaboration tools
What is a collaboration tool?
A collaboration tool is any tool that allows more than one person access, in order to share a project, add feedback, notes or provide sign-off. Cloud-based software has changed the way collaboration tools are accessed. Many modern collaboration tools allow multiple users to access them simultaneously, and provide the features needed for changes to be tracked and to save different versions as the project evolves and changes.
Not all companies use collaboration tools but those who do, find they have less email chains, more productive project management and security benefits, like locking a project down to just a few specific team members. Collaboration tools help you to monitor tasks, see progress and have version control over your documents.
Collaboration tools benefits:
- Allows simultaneous users to access
- Increases collaboration
- Live changes and real time feedback
- Easy to revert to previous projects, or changes
- One place to store all project notes
Collaboration tool example: Google Docs
One of our favorite apps for getting stuff done at ScreenCloud is Google Documents. Perhaps the easiest way ever to create documents, spreadsheets or slides and share them with your team. With Google Docs everything is in the Cloud so you don’t risk losing your files and you never have to click “save”, because it does it for you. You can organize files by folder to make them really easy to find and there are a multitude of settings to allow your team to edit or just view.
5. Employee social networks
What is an employee social network? (ESN)
Employee social networks are a relatively new tool for internal communication. Organizations can use the same features of a public social network to encourage employees to connect and discuss work-related topics.
We think of it like this: if intranets are places for communication, channels like Slack are for collaboration. Then what about water cooler information? Especially in remote teams, team building and “getting to know each other” is essential but the information often seems too frivolous to post into Slack or to share on email.
Many organizations also see their employee social network as more than just a “nice to have”. Using them to share events, company blogs, and all of the information an employee needs access to. In this way, a social network can become a hub which allows employees to be more expressive and creative.
Workplace by Facebook in action - image source.
Benefits of an employee social network:
- Mimics natural behavior - most employees are regular social media users in their personal lives
- Provides an instant way to ask for advice, get feedback or collaborate on tasks
- A way to build community between employees who may not work in the same office
- Build transparency by sharing employee praise, recognition and project updates
- A place for employees to discuss shared interests, work-related or otherwise
Employee social network tool example: Jostle
Jostle is a modern day employee network tool which means it's easy to navigate and is simple for any team member to enable in their everyday. It labels itself as a “People Engagement Platform” containing tools such as a blog-led news feed and a “Shout out” section for employee praise.
6. Team bonding tools
What is a team bonding tool?
Many companies view internal communication as something that’s top down, from the directors of the company to the employees. But what about lateral communication? The way employees communicate with each other is conducive to great work. That’s why tools that actively encourage employees to communicate more effectively are so important. One we have been trying recently at ScreenCloud is Donut, where two employees are randomly matched to take part in a “get to know each other” Slack call. Employee team bonding tools are useful for companies that have a partly or fully remote team. They’re also useful for teams where communicating may not come as naturally, for example in Development teams where most energy is spent on solitary coding, rather than communication.
Tools like Donut aren’t “magic cures” for companies where there’s a culture issue or low employee engagement, but they can help employees to feel more engaged and invested in their colleagues. After all, it’s pretty hard to dislike someone who has a pet cat called Wallaby.
Benefits of a team bonding tool:
- Helps employees that might not usually speak to connect
- Increases visibility across the organization of job and project roles
- Builds stronger connection between employees
- Makes communication easier
Team bonding tool example: Know your Team
An example of a team bonding tool is Know Your Team, which provides icebreaker questions for new team members and can be programmed to ask one non-work-related question each week, like “What’s your favorite family tradition?”. This helps managers and teams get to know each other better without having to spend time and energy thinking of icebreakers or feeling anxiety over starting up a new conversation.
7. Video chat tools
What is a video chat tool?
Video services like Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams play a pivotal role in improving internal communication by enabling face-to-face interactions, regardless of employees' physical locations. Video services allow teams to hold virtual meetings, discussions, and presentations in real time. This fosters a sense of connectedness and engagement, especially among workers across company locations or working from home.
Benefits of a video chat tool:
- Helps employees connect visually
- Gives everyone the same tool to adopt
- Often free, or more low-cost than actual phone calls
- Low point of entry to join
Video chat tool example: Zoom
Zoom is a web and video conferencing tool that makes video calls easy. Whether you’re having a multi-person meeting or trying to give a video webinar to customers, Zoom gives you the tools needed to succeed. Zoom meetings are easy to set up, run through the app and can be shared with those outside of your office, or even outside of your organization (when talking to partner organizations), with a simple link.
8. Company newsletters
A company newsletter compiles news, updates, and important information relevant to the organization. Company newsletters can be specific to a certain department or company-wide. One of the biggest advantages of company newsletters is that it can further engage employees; by spotlighting employee accomplishments or bringing employees in to contribute at their leisure, people are more likely to read the newsletter.
Benefits of a company newsletter:
- Dissemination of important updates
- Centralized repository for company news
- Enhances employee awareness
- Promotes a sense of belonging
- Opportunity for recognition and celebration
Company newsletter example: LinkedIn newsletters
While internal newsletters usually are not available to the public, we’re still able to look at LinkedIn newsletters by thought leaders in the working world to see how they’re written, how often they’re posted and current topics that could be more relevant to an internal newsletter.
9. Task management tools
Task management tools are (usually) online databases where each employee logs their current tasks, assigned tasks and overall departmental tasks. This makes it easy for colleagues to track distribution of workloads and a channel for interdepartmental communication. Task management tools, when done well, are the opposite of micromanaging — with enough briefing and support, it can be an automated system where relevant stakeholders check on tasks without asking further.
Benefits of task management tools:
- Streamlined communication and centralized platform for teams to see others’ tasks and project updates
- Enables teams to work together on projects, assign tasks, and track progress in real-time
- With better organization and prioritization of tasks, employees can focus on what matters most, leading to increased productivity and better outcomes
Task Management Tool: ClickUp
ClickUp is a task management tool where all departments can transparently showcase their tasks, progress and upcoming work duties across the company. It is known for its flexibility, making it suitable for various industries and team sizes. Whether managing a remote team, organizing personal tasks, or overseeing a complex project, ClickUp can adapt to multiple types of workflows, making it a top choice for task management.
ScreenCloud helps teams in 10,000+ organizations around the world communicate with those who matter most, using the screens on their walls and the content in their systems.
ScreenCloud’s digital signage can inform employees on corporate information like social media feeds, data visualizations, emergency alerts, and live broadcasts – or even simply the news, sports and weather.
Sign up for a free demo and see what your organization can achieve with digital signage.