What Are Internal Communications?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Internal communications is the process of exchanging information within an organization to fulfill legal requirements, promote employee interest in the company, and keep all employees up to date on events. Communications exchanged within a company may be privileged in nature and could be subject to some legal protections. Employees who disclose the contents of such communications may be liable in a court of law and could be sued for damages by their employers if the disclosure causes harm to the company.

Businessman giving a thumbs-up
Businessman giving a thumbs-up

Companies can use a variety of tools for internal communications. This includes intranet that allows access to email, message boards, chat, and other electronic communications. Face-to-face meetings and groups are another option, as are phone calls and distributed printed memos. A company may use a variety of ways to reach employees to keep communication fresh and diverse and promote communication and response. For example, a supervisor might have an anonymous question or complaint box for employees to use at any time. This will make employees feel like their opinions matter.

Legally, certain internal communications are required. Companies must provide clear information about benefits programs and legal rights available to employees, such as access to a union steward or the ability to file a sexual harassment complaint. Usually companies need to post minimum wage information and other legal disclosures. In some settings, employees are regarded as shareholders and also have the right to participate in decisions and shape company policy.

Other communications may facilitate a sense of connection to the company to encourage company loyalty. When internal communications make employees feel like part of an organization, they look out for its best interests and may retain their jobs longer, rather than seeking work elsewhere. Clear communication between different levels of staff, like supervisors and their personnel, can also ensure that problems are swiftly reported and identified, instead of being buried.

Some internal communications require employee participation, such as acknowledgment of an email or attendance at a meeting. This ensures a certain level of engagement. In other cases, employees can opt out. For example, employees may choose not to participate in a mailing list with coworkers because they don't find a subject interesting, or do not have enough time. Likewise, they might choose not to attend optional events. Such employees tend to feel less connected with the company and may be viewed as standoffish by other staff because of their lack of social engagement.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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