Employee Communication Tools: What You Need to Know About Channels

Employee Communication Tools: What You Need to Know About Comms Channels

Selecting the right employee communication tools for your company is key to communication that gets results. But the market has become so saturated with options, it can be difficult to determine what you really need. This is especially true of comms channels. That’s why we’re sharing what comms tools are worth it and how to put together the best communication tech stack.

male professional working on his laptop to represent employee communication tools

What Are Employee Communication Tools?

Employee communications tools are any software or product that assists in the internal communication process of an organization. This can include channels for communication, productivity tools, measurement platforms, etc. But more on that in the next section.

Tools for employee communication have started to arise more frequently in the last decade or so as companies realize the increasing importance of strong communication with their teams. While this has been a long time coming, it has also made it harder for communicators to know what tools are worth it. And since internal comms teams tend to have limited budgets, selecting the right software is vital.

three wooden blocks with icons for telephone, email, and mobile employee apps, which are all types of employee communication tools

What Are the Types of Employee Communications Tools?

Let’s start by reviewing the various types of employee comms tools

Communications Channels

Internal communication channels are one of the biggest categories of employee comms tools. Comms channels include:

  • Intranets
  • Email
  • Print and Digital Signage
  • Employee Apps
  • SMS/Texting
  • Peer-to-peer chat and collaboration Tools (e.g. Slack or Teams)
  • All-team meetings
  • Physical mail

Within each type of employee communication channel are a plethora of providers. But it’s important to remember that not all channels are meant to be primary means of communication. 

We like to break channels into two categories: primary and secondary channels. And both have their uses and merits. Primary channels of communication are the ones that employees may access the most regularly and seek out all the information they need to do their job. Email, for instance, is often a primary channel for office workers. Secondary channels are supplemental ways of getting information and are often used for the reinforcement of key messages. Printed signage in a break room might be a secondary channel for manufacturing workers.

This distinction is helpful when selecting your comms tech stack because you need to ensure you have at least one primary channel for each segment of your workforce. If you only invest in email, an intranet, and a collaboration tool, you are likely not providing your deskless workers with a primary channel since they often lack access to tools like this. So, keep in mind the variety of channels available to you and the diverse needs of your workforce.

Productivity Tools

Because internal comms teams are often small, it’s important to stay organized and maximize productivity. To do so, many communicators turn to a variety of productivity tools to manage their editorial calendars, keep track of tasks, track down approvals, and so on.

These can be paid or free tools—you can invest in something like Smartsheet or Trello or you can use Excel and regular stakeholder meetings.

Content Management Tools

Content management is a huge part of an internal communicator’s role. From editorial calendars to plan content to the tools we use to create content, there is no shortage of tools out there to choose from.

Let’s focus on content creation tools. With the rise of social media and the 24/7 news cycle, our audiences have gotten used to fast, multimedia content. And, for better or worse, those same expectations are falling to our corporate communications. So, we need to invest in tools for video and podcast production as well as the tools to make better graphics for our employee apps, newsletters, emails, and intranet posts.

Strategy and Measurement

Not all internal communications tools are SaaS (software as a service) platforms. There are many tools that IC pros can turn to as they build their strategies. Specifically, we find research from organizations like Gallagher and Edelman to be incredibly beneficial.

Why use these annual reports? Because they will help provide industry benchmarks that you can use to negotiate for the right resources, budget, and headcount. But they also share trends and employee communication best practices that you can learn from and adapt to your company.

When it comes to measuring employee communication performance, many internal communication channels will come with metrics. But you might also turn to technology to help automate data analysis and create data visualizations.

How Do You Choose the Right Employee Communication Tools For Your Business?

With so much choice and so much potential ROI from all these types of tools, how do you pick your suite of tools?

Whether you’re starting from scratch or trying to update your current tech stack, we recommend starting with an audit. Look at all your current employee communications tools and make a list. Include in that document:

  • Who is using that tool?
  • What does it cost?
  • What is the adoption of that tool (especially for channels)?
  • What are the benefits and disadvantages of using that tool?
  • Are there better tools on the market you could replace any of your current systems with?
  • What do employees say about their current tools and systems?

Based on this audit, you will likely discover areas of opportunity as well as gaps in your existing employee communication tools. From there, do your research. What new channels exist that might help close those gaps? What software might help you branch out with your content strategy to improve outcomes? And calculate an estimate of the ROI of those tools to decide which ones you need now and which ones can wait.

photo of a stack of smartphones

Best Practices for Implementing Employee Communication Tools

Implementing employee communication tools requires careful planning and execution. Here are some best practices to consider:

  • Define clear goals. Clearly outline your communication goals and objectives to ensure that the selected tools align with your strategic priorities.
  • Involve stakeholders. Engage key stakeholders across the organization to gather insights, gain buy-in, and address any potential concerns or challenges.
  • Provide adequate training. Offer comprehensive training and resources to employees to ensure they understand how to effectively use the new tools and maximize their benefits.
  • Monitor and evaluate. Continuously monitor the performance and usage of the tools and gather feedback from employees to identify areas for improvement and optimize their effectiveness.
  • Iterate and Adapt. As the communication landscape evolves, be open to adapting your toolset and strategies to meet the changing needs of your workforce and leverage emerging technologies.

Case Study: Ryman Hospitality and theEMPLOYEEapp

An organization that has successfully leveraged employee communication tools is Ryman Hospitality Properties. In December 2022, Ryman launched theEMPLOYEEapp platform to enhance their communication with their distributed workforce.

Facing the challenge of real-time updates for frontline workers, Ryman saw the value in an employee app to share daily updates and timely information without overwhelming inboxes. 

Hannah Vincent, Ryman’s Corporate Communications Associate, explains, “An employee app gives us the opportunity to share updates every day or multiple times a day without flooding inboxes. And it gives employees a place to see what is happening across our brands in a timely manner.”

Read their case study to discover how Ryman Hospitality Properties implemented their mobile app for employees and developed a highly engaging mobile content strategy.

examples of employee communication tools on a mobile phone and laptop

Why Use theEMPLOYEEapp For Employee Comms

theEMPLOYEEapp is an employee communication tool that can grow with your organization. Our platform comes with both a mobile internal communication app and an employee intranet, so you can reach your audience wherever they work. Competitively priced and designed with the internal communicator in mind, theEMPLOYEEapp is a solution that provides immediate ROI.

By incorporating these additional sections, the blog provides a more comprehensive overview of employee communication tools, including best practices and a real-world case study to demonstrate the effectiveness of using tools like theEMPLOYEEapp.