Why Medium-sized Businesses Need a Budget for Internal Communication
Although it presents a huge part of everyday work life, intercompany communication is usually not strictly defined as an independent operation in medium-sized businesses. While bigger companies have structuralized departments specialized for internal affairs, smaller ones typically lack the resources for this.
After some thorough examination, we managed to determine that you can actually put a price tag on internal communication (let’s simply call it IC from now on). In this text, we’ll show why and how should business owners create a separate budget for intercom processes.
Why is IC budget so important?
Let's borrow a quote we believe hits the target with great precision:
“Creating an initial budget can be difficult, but it gets easier when organizations recognize there is more to lose by forgoing internal communications projects entirely.”
- Rich Kneece for the FastCompany.
One of the main reasons why a properly defined IC budget can be greatly beneficial for medium-sized businesses is that it can guide spontaneous communication between coworkers and turn it into a valuable asset for the company. Most employees use the official IC channels to simply (i.e. unofficially) comment on their colleagues' work. It can be both complementary and derogatory, but it always provides valuable input on how could things improve around a company. Some employees will only suggest a different brand of coffee for the office. The others will try to push the idea of making their office a pet-friendly space. And a few of them will use this channel to suggest other, possibly cheaper tools necessary for their work that could potentially save the company a significant amount of money.
All of the above are examples of unplanned work and spontaneous collaboration that every company should cherish and nurture. Developing a solid IC strategy and a budget is, therefore, a step in the right direction.
Let the numbers speak for themselves
In 2016, Poppulo (while still Newsweaver), together with Ragan Communications, organized a survey to show that IC budgets are more likely to grow than decrease in the years to come, with a whopping 87% of the participants expecting the budgets to increase. The survey also showed that more than 50% of communicators agreed or strongly agreed that they do not have the right tools and resources to perform their tasks - which is one of the crucial aspects of any business, and the one that heavily influences the engagement rate within a company. Not having the right (or any!) tool to communicate is a problem that eats money and time, and should be permanently eliminated.
The same survey showed that the average annual IC budget for organizations with more than 500 employees is around $185k (excluding staff salaries). Yet, most of the participants in the study stated that their IC budget was less than $10k. This should give you an idea of how modest IC budgets (excluding salaries) could be for small and medium-sized companies that employ between 50 and 250 people.
A few things to consider before forming a budget
Here’s a checklist of questions you must ask yourself before forming a solid IC strategy:
- How much employee turnover costs your company per year?
- Is customer loyalty providing revenue?
- How effective is your customer service team?
- How engaged are your employees?
- Was there any lost revenue in the last year that is a direct product of miscommunication within coworkers?
- Does the quality of internal communications within your company affect the product or service quality and its development rate?
If you are not happy with your answers to these questions, you should start working on your IC strategy and budget a.s.a.p. Keep in mind that this decision will send a strong message to your employees, stating that you are ready to make significant improvements to the company infrastructure and let their voices to be heard.
Another thing to have in mind is that there is no solid IC strategy without frequent measurement of its impact on individual teams and the entire working collective. This implies regular analyses of changes in productivity, sales, and profits, survey implementation, and annual staff turnover reviews.
Where exactly does this money go?
Before forming a separate IC budget, a business owner must know where this money is going to be spent. Luckily for you, there are only two channels this budget is going to address: the tools your employees are going to use, and the people to manage them.
#1 HR managers and/or internal communication specialists
Whether you call them People Officer, Happiness Manager, Director of Employee Engagement, or simply HR, these persons are in charge of various aspects of employment within one company including recruiting, advising, and benefits management. HR Managers are usually analytically-driven persons with a degree in psychology and sociology, and thus present a valuable addition to the company. On the other hand, Internal Communication Specialists are there to convert HR strategies into quality content that is comprehensible to all employees, and to ensure that all messages arrive at the right address. They are passionate not only about project management but also about communication and developing strong written content. We’ll write more about the importance of highly-capable IC staff for medium-sized companies some other time. Now, let’s talk about the tools that make internal communication run as smoothly as possible.
#2 Investing in the right tool
On our blog, we have talked a lot about all kinds of tools you can choose to implement your IC strategy. Interestingly enough, the best IC software doesn’t have to be the most expensive one. At BlogIn, we trust our very own company blog to handle all of our internal correspondence. We think of it as a safe place for us to communicate, exchange ideas, and all important company info. To put it simply, we believe that the best IC tool is the one that is simple to manage, the one that boosts cooperation and makes all kind of business knowledge easily shareable.
To see if you agree, you can sign up for our free trial and see how an internal blog can benefit you and your team.