8 Types of Internal Communications to Add in the Workplace

Learn how to use the 8 kinds of internal communications to boost productivity, engagement, and retention in your business.

September 25, 2023
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Poor internal communication in your business will put a handbrake on its growth.

But if you get it right, it can become a serious competitive advantage.

To do that, you need to create a strategy that covers all eight types of internal communications.

Read on to find out how.

What are internal communications?

It’s internal communication whenever an organizations’ employees talk to each other behind closed doors.

Internal communications examples include:

  • An email thread between two colleagues
  • A team meeting
  • An update on the company intranet
  • A Slack conversation between teammates
  • A one-to-one meeting between an employee and their manager

8 types of internal communications

There are eight types of internal communication, each of which requires its own approach to get right. 

Here’s an overview of the kinds of communications any effective internal communication strategy incorporates:

  1. Leadership communication

Making sure your people are in the loop about what’s going on at your company is key to keeping them engaged.

In fact, 80% of workers want to know more about how decisions are made in their company. And 87% would like more transparency from their organization in the future.

That’s where leadership communication comes in. If your people hear regularly from the C-suite, they’re a lot more likely to stay invested in your business’s goals and engaged in their work.  

  1. Peer-to-peer communication

The more efficiently information flows around your organization, the more effective it will be.

But getting your people to collaborate with each other within the same team can be a struggle, never mind across different departments.

In fact:

  • A massive 60% of workers find it difficult, very difficult, or nearly impossible to obtain information vital to their job from their colleagues.
  • 86% of workers say a lack of effective collaboration and communication is the main cause of workplace failures.
  • 36% of workers find it so difficult to exchange information across different teams within their organization that it causes productivity-sapping silos.

The thing is: your teammates don’t want it to be this way. In fact, 91% of workers are interested in feeling closer to their colleagues.

Empower them with effective peer-to-peer communication tools to help them collaborate more effectively with their colleagues across every level of the business.

  1. Top-down communication

Top-down management is the most common management strategy. It involves a company’s higher-ups deciding on its strategy and direction, then passing their instructions on to front-line staff (via middle-managers) to execute.

This organizational structure lives or dies on how effective a company’s top-down communication is. And the fact is: only 40% of the average business’s employees know what its goals are. Get top-down communication right and you’ll be a step ahead of your competition. 

  1. Bottom-up communication

Bottom-up management is when employees at all levels of an organization are involved in setting its strategy and making key decisions. Instead of the directors calling the shots from on high, staff at every level have a say in what the business is trying to achieve and how they’re going to go about achieving it.

Get this organizational structure right and it can be a huge competitive advantage – especially for agile start-ups. But you need to establish clear lines of bottom-up communication for this methodology to work.

  1. Information communication

81% of employees say they feel frustrated when they can't get the information they need to do their job.

And that’s where information communication comes in.

House all your organization’s important information, guidelines, and processes in a central knowledge base and you’ll make a huge dent in the 20% of every working week the typical knowledge worker spends looking for information they need to complete their daily tasks.

  1. Change communication

Planning on pivoting the services your organization offers? About to adopt a new technology into your workflows? About to rethink your strategy or reorganize your business?

Change communication is the art of delivering what’s often difficult news to your employees tactfully and effectively. 

Getting this delicate form of internal communication right will help ensure productivity, engagement, and retention don’t drop too much during big changes to your business (that not all your staff might welcome). 

  1. Crisis communication

Crisis communication – the art of effectively addressing a crisis that impacts your colleagues, customers, or your organization's reputation – isn’t something you ever want to have to call upon.

But you’ll be glad you baked it into your internal communications strategy if you ever need to.

  1. Culture communication

You can spend hours crafting the perfect manifesto that encapsulates the culture you aspire to within your organization…

But if you fail to effectively communicate how you expect your people to behave then don’t be surprised if your carefully crafted document doesn’t make the slightest difference to your company culture.

Culture communication is the art of making sure your company’s values and the attributes your people show most often match up. What sets this apart from other kinds of internal communication is that it’s often what your leaders and managers do – not what they say – that really matters here. Your people are going to follow in their superiors footsteps, after all. 

Which types of internal communications work best?

The best internal communication tools and strategies for a plucky tech start-up are very different from the best internal communication platforms and plans for a FTSE 500 organization.

Here’s a closer look at what organizations of all sizes should prioritize when it comes to their internal communication plan.

Small businesses and start-ups

Companies small enough that every employee knows each other by name have a huge advantage against large organizations – information spreads a lot more easily through them.

That makes almost all internal communications easier for small businesses – especially if they’re armed with the right internal communication software.

But where start-ups and scale-ups can run into serious trouble are areas where they don’t have an established strategy or existing documentation.

For example, it can be hard for employees of a fast-growing start-up to find the time to document their knowledge in a company wiki. That makes information communication something small businesses should focus on.

Plus, a start-up’s founders are often so focussed on growing their business that they don’t take the time to formalize their company’s culture – never mind establish a crisis communication plan. This can make culture and crisis communication impossible – both things that could bring a start-up to its knees.

So, small businesses should focus on getting as much of their people’s knowhow and insights into a knowledge hub as possible. Plus, they should take the time to formalize their company culture and crisis plan and share that with their people.

Medium and large organizations

The bigger your business, the more proactive your internal communication strategies need to be.

Leadership communication is particularly important for large organizations, which makes CEO and Executive updates one of the most effective internal communication channels at their disposal. Executive announcements also make it easy to keep your employees in the loop with simple updates on your organization’s strategy and direction. 

Encouraging peer-to-peer communications is also crucial for businesses with thousands of employees across dozens of departments. A workplace news feed, group feeds for departments and project teams, and weekly check-ins can all help here.

If the messages your leadership team tries to get to their employees are muddied as they’re passed down the chain of command then everything will be an uphill struggle. And that’s why getting top-down communication right through internal communications tools like CEO and executive updates and weekly updates are so important for large companies.

Information communication is just as important for large businesses as it is for small start-ups. The difference is that the larger your organization, the more time and effort you need to put into managing a knowledge hub. A disorganized internal wiki is an internal wiki that doesn’t get used. So, be sure to bake time into your people’s schedule to maintain your intranet if you want to improve internal communication in an organization with hundreds of employees.

Last but not least, change communication is crucial for large organizations. So, be sure to keep your people in the loop with everything that’s going on in your business through a company news feed. And regular staff surveys are your friends when it comes to revealing how your staff really feel about a change you make to how your business operates.

The final word

Fail to utilize each of the eight types of internal communications in your organization and you’ll quickly run into trouble.

Follow the internal communications best practices we’ve laid out here to make sure they’re completely covered in your strategy.

Browse our Free Employee Recognition Guide

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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