In the perfect workplace, we’d want employees to enjoy opening company messages as much as personal ones. There are now many options for workplace tools that fall under “internal communication,” ranging from scheduling software to collaboration tools. The hard part is finding ones that are more than just tools, but rather tools that can solve real organizational or employee problems.
Anyone can download a communication tool, but if you don’t know how to use them properly for your business, then they are worthless. In this article, we’ll share seven great tools to improve staff communication and what to do with them.
Types of Internal Communication Tool
The intranet is a privatized network that is connected via the web. It is designed as a central channel for internal communication where employees can share, gather, and access information. The intranet is often used to allow employees to stay connected to what is happening with the business.
Intranet can be a hub for every aspect of communication – from sharing documents and company social media updates to projects notes and photo-sharing. The main page of an intranet can increase the visibility of company information along with relevant policies and notices. Dedicated sections and channels can be created that allow employees to have access to all information available. Employees can also focus on the areas that pertain to them.
- An intranet is a private community, so sensitive information can be shared within the business without outsiders gaining access.
- It’s online so employees can work collaboratively and can reduce the time spent sending important information around.
- The intranet can be split into sections and channels, helping to organize information.
- Files such as documents and spreadsheets can be hosted on the intranet, making them easy to access.
- All conversations are available to those with access to the intranet, so information is open to all teams, which supports a collaborative working environment.
An intranet allows you to bring together different types of communication. You can have a forum or implement instant messaging. You can also store documents and information, which can act as guides for your employees.
Intranet tool example: Igloo
Most people, when they hear “intranet,” they think of outdated and clunky. Igloo is here to change that. Igloo is an intranet tool that efficiently pulls together the information and resources that are important to a business. Igloo allows you to create team rooms where employees can discuss projects or ideas and “hubs” of information which can be accessed anytime.
Instant messaging tools
Instant messaging tools allow team members to communicate instantly. They can send messages, videos, photos, and links to colleagues. This method is a much faster and more natural way of communicating and mimics tools that we use every day in our personal lives – such as Whatsapp.
When you send someone an email, you know it’s going to sit in their inbox and potentially be ignored for a few days. With instant messaging, it is immediate so that you can begin a dialogue right away. Instant messaging channels can be set up for group discussions. For example, you can have one room dedicated to sales or marketing. This communication method allows employees to share relevant information without overloading everyone with emails.
Instant messaging benefits:
- A quick and easy way to share information or ask questions.
- A lower volume of emails needed to be sent.
- Conversations can be searched – rather than private conversations happening solely through email.
- Easy access to video and voice calls.
- The ability to share photos, videos, and documents in one place.
Instant messaging tool example: Flock
While Slack has become a widely used messaging app choice, another excellent option available is Flock. Flock is easier to use than Slack and has nearly every feature you’d need for sharing information with your team. Not only does it allow for instantaneous communication, but it also has notes, to-do lists, and integrations with applications like Google Drive.
Digital signage requires you to place screens and monitors in strategic locations. This method is one of the lesser-known tools for workplace communication – likely because it is one of the only passive means of internal communication.
If you feel that your employees are not absorbing company information flying around, then digital signage could help. By implementing a passive method of sharing internal information, you can increase the flow of company updates without having to add another channel that employees have to check.
You can use digital signage to focus on specific information such as help numbers or add ever-changing content depending on what employees need. The screens can be easily managed by one person, a group of employees, or even the entire company.
Digital signage benefits:
- Information can easily be updated and quickly deployed. No having to wait for printouts.
- Data you already have can be seamlessly connected to screen apps.
- Screens can provide information that employees can view while they work. They can save time by not having to read a handbook or open an email.
- Screens can be scheduled to display different content at different times of the day.
Digital signage tool example: ScreenCloud
One great example of a digital signage tool is ScreenCloud. ScreenCloud allows you to share any content you’d like through your digital screens. You can take the most relevant information and display it in an office-wide view. Whether in your office, lobby, reception area, or team room.
Collaboration tools allow more than one person to share a project, add notes or feedback, and provide sign-off. Thanks to modern technology, most collaboration tools are cloud-based and allow multiple users to access them simultaneously.
Benefits of collaboration tools for internal communication:
- It allows users to access the tool simultaneously.
- Promotes and increases collaboration.
- Changes are made in realtime.
- Collaboration tools allow you to revert to previous projects or changes.
- You get a convenient place to store all project notes.
Not all businesses decide to use collaboration tools, but those who do find their employees are more productive, and they have to deal with fewer email chains.
Collaboration tool example: Google Docs
One of the best collaboration tools available is Google Documents. It allows you to easily create documents, spreadsheets, and slides and share them with your employees. With Google Docs, all information is stored in the cloud, so you don’t have to worry about losing your files. You no longer have to worry about saving because Google Docs will save automatically for you.
Team bonding tools
Most companies view communication as something that’s top-down – from the CEO to entry-level employees. What about lateral communication? The way that employees communicate with one another is imperative to great work. That’s why tools that encourage employee communication are so essential.
Employee team bonding tools can be useful for companies that have partially or fully remote teams. They are also helpful for teams where communication may not come naturally. For example, development teams who spend energy on solitary coding may be more inclined to communicate through team bonding tools rather than through direct communication.
Team bonding tools aren’t a magic cure for businesses that have culture issues or low employee engagement, but they can help employees to feel more engaged and invested in their work.
Benefits of a team bonding tool:
- Helps employees that may not speak up to connect
- Increases transparency across the business, projects, and roles.
- It can build a stronger connection between colleagues.
- It makes communication much more straightforward.
Team bonding tool example: Know Your Team
One example of a team bonding tool is Know Your Team. This tool provides icebreaker questions for new team members and can be set up to ask non-work related questions such as “What’s your favorite holiday and why?”
Human resources tools
Human resource tools allow employees to view important information, whether it’s regarding their time 401k, scheduling software, or paid time off. These tools can vary depending on what process you’re looking to automate and can range from scheduling software to financial services.
More companies are moving to web-based human resources tools that provide employees with access to a portal that contains all of their information. Within these portals are forums where employees can ask questions or chat with a colleague. Most topics found in these portals cover issues more specific to human resources such as which HMO to choose or if employees plan to let their time off rollover.
Benefits of a human resources tool:
- Allows employees to provide feedback about specific HR processes.
- Employees can act as a support system for those new to the company.
- Employees can easily update their personal information, which will automatically be sent to HR for review.
- Most options, including scheduling software, are cloud-based for easy access.
Human resource tool example: Buddy Punch
Buddy Punch is a time tracking and scheduling software. It allows leadership to create schedules for their employees easily. Employees can review their schedules as well as the schedules of other employees. Other information such as time worked, salary, pay rates, and personal information can also be stored in Buddy Punch for easy access. If you’re looking for easy to use time tracking and scheduling software, then Buddy Punch is a great choice.
Employee social networks
Employee social networks are relatively new tools for staff communication. Businesses can use the same features public social networks use to encourage participation. These can be spin-offs from regular social media networks such as Facebook. As with other communication tools, employee social networks can overlap other tools such as instant messager or company intranets.
Most businesses see their employee social networks as more than just a nice tool to have. Instead, they use them for company blogs to share upcoming events and to provide any other information necessary for employees. Employee social networks can become a place that allows employees to express themselves creatively.
Benefits of an employee social network:
- Mimics other social networks.
- It can provide instant feedback, advice, or the ability to collaborate on tasks.
- A way to include remote employees in daily proceedings.
- It allows you to increase transparency by giving employees recognition, praise, and project updates.
- A safe place for employees to talk about shared interested – work-related or otherwise.
Employee social network tool example: Jostle
Jostle is an excellent example of an employee social network. It considers itself a “People Engagement Platform” tool that has a blog news feed and a specific area for employee praise.
Every tool available offers different features and functionalities, so it’s essential to do the research and find the best solution to meet your needs.