In our modern era of 24/7 connectivity, internal communications tools can make or break a team, especially when so many companies are embracing a remote work plan and distributed workforces. Gone are the days when co-workers simply walked down the hall to talk to one another. Fortunately, the right internal communication tools can improve employee efficiency and productivity – and communication skills – no matter their location. Below, discover the types of internal communications tools available, the benefits of using such apps, and our choices for the most effective software.
What are internal communication tools?
Internal communication tools, usually in the form of software or mobile apps, enable employees to communicate with each other for work-related conversations. These tools allow teams to collaborate, brainstorm and exchange feedback online instead of relying on in-person and face-to-face conversations. Whether you’re leading a remote team or a hybrid one, business owners should establish a preferred method of communication with their employees.
The next step is ensuring everyone on your team has access to that preferred communication method and that managers reinforce its use. After all, internal communications tools will only be effective if your staff actually uses them. That said, companies should be mindful of which devices workers use to communicate. If asking employees to communicate about work on their personal laptops or smartphones, organizations must remember that the company’s IT department can’t protect data not on its network.
FYI: Establishing a communication plan is one of the key steps in building a successful remote company.
What are the top internal communication tools?
While all internal communication tools, by definition, foster communication within a company, many of the best apps have an additional purpose, like facilitating collaboration. The type of communications software that’s best for your business will depend on the objectives you have besides simply encouraging communication.
Internal communication tools for instant messaging
The main reason businesses use internal communication tools is to ensure employees can converse with one another throughout the workday, whether they’re working in the same location or not. These apps allow team members to talk to each other online through intuitive programs that show just how far we’ve come since the days of AOL Instant Messenger.
Easy to adopt with a simple interface, Slack is an instant messaging tool teams can use to efficiently communicate with each other. Employees can direct message one another or converse in channels created for specific teams or projects. For businesses partnering with other organizations or working with clients, Slack Connect enables users to collaborate with teams or employees at other companies. In addition to instant messaging, users can call or video conference with each other via the platform. [Prefer a stand-alone video system? Check out the best video conferencing services.]
Not only does Flock offer instant messaging, but it also allows teams to collaborate through channels, video and voice conferencing, and voice notes. External associates, like clients or shareholders, can see what a team works on and provide feedback without any extra fees. Employees can also share their opinion in polls or write notes within the app.
For deskless teams working in the field or at multiple locations, Connecteam prioritizes coordination. The app allows managers to schedule employee shifts and assign tasks. Team members can communicate with each other and receive updates through the app. This provides connectivity for businesses that don’t have their employees working in one place or at the same time.
Tip: Messaging services are only effective when everyone has access to them. When implementing your chosen app, make sure every employee has access to a device that can use the communication software.
Internal communication tools for collaboration
Internal communication tools that emphasize collaboration not only help teams communicate with one another, but also seamlessly share resources like documents and videos.
Through Google Drive, a cloud-based storage solution that is part of Google Workspace, teams can share files and folders with one another. Businesses that use Google Drive can use Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides to view, comment on and edit shared work. Google provides encrypted and secure protection to all files uploaded to Drive.
Basecamp is a project management tool providing teams with a dashboard that organizes all their projects. On this project dashboard, employees can see a chain of communication, a to-do list and a schedule, so they know where they are in a project’s pipeline and what comes next. Team members can also upload files directly to the dashboard for colleagues to view and work on.
Help Scout assists companies with scaling their productivity and addressing the needs of their customers. The platform has many customer service features, including shared team inboxes, messaging and real-time data reporting. Help Scout provides businesses the ability to offer customers instant, helpful service at any time by increasing communication among workers behind the scenes.
Internal communication tools for video, onboarding and more
Some internal communication apps emphasize visual communication, onboarding tools and even social media.
The popularity of video conferencing technology has skyrocketed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Zoom leading the way. Zoom allows teams to meet virtually through HD video and audio and gives them the ability to collaborate through screen shares and an in-app group chat. Employees can connect in any size of meeting, be it a one-on-one chat or a companywide seminar. The platform offers a free version and scalable pricing options. Learn more about its features in our full Zoom review.
Onboarding a new employee is challenging, especially if the process is remote. Freshteam is an applicant-tracking system that streamlines the onboarding process for HR teams by gathering everything for the new hire in one place. Recruiters can welcome new team members by sending them all the documentation necessary for onboarding through the software. The app monitors the progress of onboarding tasks and sets reminders so managers stay up to date as new faces join the company.
LumApps helps organizations build a strong company culture within their own internal social network. Employees can post both professional and personal updates. Similar to social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, the software encourages users to engage with one another by liking and commenting on posts. Other features that connect team members include a virtual town hall, a news center and customizable communities.
What are the benefits of internal communication tools?
The above apps offer more benefits than just improved communication. Here are some of the many reasons a company should invest in adopting or upgrading its internal communication tools.
Build team alignment and trust.
Getting an entire workforce on the same page can be difficult, even with the best company culture. If team members aren’t regularly talking to one another, confusion, alienation and resentment can fester. Communication apps prevent this from happening by increasing transparency between employees and between levels of leadership. The more employees and leaders talk to one another, the more trust and camaraderie they build. A strong sense of trust among your team members leads to increased engagement and greater collaboration on projects.
Enable transparent and honest communication.
Some employees are afraid to speak up if they believe an unpopular opinion may upset someone or have a negative effect on their career. When few face-to-face conversations or check-ins occur, employees may feel like they have to tell supervisors what they want to hear and skip over important issues. Communication apps remove this concern by providing a platform for constant discussion. Managers can schedule recurring meetings with their teams and employees can reach out to their peers with questions or suggestions. There is no limitation when everyone is accessible throughout the workday.
Did you know? Employees are 2.8 times more likely to be engaged with their company when their manager takes time to regularly discuss their goals and wins, according to Gallup research.
Improve retention rates.
Among the reasons employees quit, many cite feeling disengaged, undervalued and underused. Workers want to grow with a company where they feel heard, appreciated and needed. Communication apps allow managers to check in with their employees on projects, listen to them, and provide feedback. The more engagement co-workers of all levels have with one another, the less potential there is for turnover in a company. [Find out how to calculate the turnover rate at your business.]
Increase employee engagement.
If a company doesn’t require employees to interact with one another, they may not feel compelled to do so. But team members who actively communicate with one another and their supervisors become more engaged with their work and tend to have higher productivity. Because internal communication tools offer the ability to start a conversation with any employee in any location, they create a more collaborative workplace, improving work engagement and relationships. Learn more about empowering your staff through communication.