Communication teams don’t always have a lot of budget lying around. So, when we want to make a big impact, we can feel discouraged. But there are things that you can do on a limited internal communication budget to improve workplace communication without breaking the bank or asking for more resources.
Internal Communication Budgets
Here’s the sad truth: internal communication teams don’t always have amazing budgets. That’s partly because we are still fighting the good fight to prove our value. Gallagher’s State of the Sector has found that budget constraints were among the top challenges for internal comms and HR leaders.
While some of us have earned that seat at the table, some of us are still working towards that level of acceptance. And that’s okay.
Regardless of where you are, we have to work with what we have and make the most of it. We have to learn how to stretch our internal communication budget as far as it’ll go and prove that we make a serious impact on the bottom line.
In this blog, we’ll share a few ways to make a big impact on any budget.
Improving Communication With a Limited Internal Communication Budget
Regardless of what your internal communication budget is, let’s help you make the most of it. These five strategies are essential to adding value—without breaking the bank.
Tip 1: Repurpose Your Content
If you don’t have a big budget (or even a big team), it’s important to repurpose content as much as possible and even consider how you use curated content in your strategy.
Repurposing content is when you take one long form piece of content—like a Town Hall recording—and use it for other communications. This can look like turning it into a series of newsletter articles about what the company is focused on. Or cutting up the recording into smaller pieces to remind employees of key dates and information throughout the quarter. Or even just taking a few inspirational quotes from the CEO and using them in your employee app.
This strategy is great because it takes one high effort initiative and gets the most out of it, while also saving you time creating content down the line!
Tip 2: Get Better at Measurement
Too many IC pros think they can’t measure their success without a budget and expensive tools. But there are many ways to measure impact and it’s not always about fancy dashboards or open rates.
For one, you can do a content analysis or Internal Comms Audit of what you are currently creating, who the content is intended for (i.e. what audience?), what channel(s) it’s being shared through, and so on. You may find that a whole part of your audience is being left out or that you are producing way more content for your U.S. audience versus your international ones. That right there is a huge discovery and totally counts as measurement.
You can also use surveys and focus groups to gather quantitative and qualitative data. And often, IC pros might have more access to the qualitative, and that’s okay. That is also super important information that you can use to inform your strategy.
It is a team sport to improve workplace communication. So, don’t forget that you can ask other departments about their data. Can HR share their retention numbers with you and you can track if that improves over time as a result of your combined efforts? Can Operations share the number of safety incidents you’re experiencing and you can see if a safety comms campaign drives those down?
Tip 3: Become a Canva Expert
You don’t need an Adobe license or a graphic designer to create visuals, videos, and content that engages. But relying only on text, stock images, and clipart really isn’t going to cut it anymore. You have to learn the skills, but luckily, there are tools like Canva that make it so much easier.
Their Pro license is very affordable and comes with tons of photography, stock video, audio tracks, and more that you can use to bring your communications campaigns to life.
You can use a tool like Canva to:
- Create animated GIFs and videos
- Edit videos (trim, add text, change aspect ratio)
- Create post thumbnails for your app and intranet
- Edit and alter images
- Create engaging PDFs
Tip 4: Create Communication Focus Groups
Focus groups are a great source of qualitative data. But they’re a best practice for so many reasons.
Focus groups are a great way to pressure test your comms campaigns, strategies, and new ideas. Does that complicated message about the strategy make sense to them? Do they like how Town Halls are currently run? You want to test out a new newsletter format, do they like it? Is it worthwhile to them? Do they think it’s great as it is?
But your employees are also a wealth of ideas and knowledge. Many internal comms pros are tapping into the employee voice more these days, but are you also including them in the communication process?
Tip 5: Get Executive Leadership Involved
Don’t underestimate the power of messages coming from the senior leadership team. With the right approach, these messages can do amazing things for your culture, productivity, and morale.
Including executives in the internal communications process is great for a variety of reasons:
- By being involved more first-hand, It helps them see what you do and why you do it. This can help you earn their trust.
- It’s more effective for change management and crisis communications than messages that just come from the somewhat anonymous “internal comms team”.
- There’s a ripple effect. When leaders actually lead by example, amazing things happen. If you have a new tool or program, your leaders using those tools and encouraging others to do the same is one of the best secrets to gaining adoption or compliance.
Other Best Practices to Maximize Your Impact
Avoid Relying Solely on the Cascade of Communication
In a company with many frontline workers, the cascade model of communication is often used to get information from the top all the way down to your frontline workers. But unfortunately, not all managers or leaders are great communicators. They don’t always share “the why” behind the message, they might forget or leave out key details, or worse, they might decide the message isn’t important to their teams and not pass it along at all.
We recommend finding a channel that can reach all employees directly. This is, perhaps, the best way to avoid relying on field leadership to pass a message down the line. But we also understand that there isn’t always a budget for a new channel, so we wanted to share some other ways to avoid the cascade and make sure the message stays intact as it gets passed along.
So, what can you do to improve workplace communication?
- Create shift notes for your managers. A majority of managers report not feeling comfortable communicating, especially about tough subjects. Get ahead of this by preparing detailed talking points and notes to help your managers. And make sure you get some backup from a senior leader and leaders at each level to enforce actually using them.
- Tap into the channels you do have on location. If you’re in manufacturing, it’s likely you have kiosks for employees to use. In healthcare, there are often shared computers in workstations. Can you use those to get the really important messages across? This can be a good way to make sure employees see a message and make it easy for them to figure out where they can get more information regardless of how skilled a communicator their manager is.
Teach Employees and Managers How to Communicate More Effectively
Workplace communication isn’t just about top-down messaging. It’s all communication that takes place at your company. In our first tip, we recommend making great shift notes and resources for your managers, but don’t stop there. Actually invest in teaching communication skills to your employees at every level of the company.
Often, managers are promoted because they are really great at their jobs—but not because they necessarily are great communicators. Can you embed leadership and communication best practices into their manager training? Keep in mind that managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement (Gallup).
And focus on the communication skills of your line workers as well. Clear communication goes a long way towards improving safety, teamwork, and efficiency. Not to mention, creating learning and development opportunities for all teammates at all levels is key to retaining top talent.
The Right Tools for Any Internal Communication Budget
At the end of the day, you do need some budget to be able to afford the internal comms channels you need to reach your employee audiences. But so many tools cost more than what you can afford, let alone that will be able to scale with you as you grow.
That’s why the employee app lets you bundle critical communications channels and save. Our app and intranet come together as a standard pair, and you can easily bundle in unlimited texting.
Interested in seeing it in action? Request a demo today.
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