This blogpost is part of the “Belonging is a mindset” blog series derived from my academic research on ‘internal communication and belonging in the virtual workplace’ for the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. The data from this study was collected from new hires who started their jobs in the middle of the pandemic and internal communication practitioners. This blogpost is part of my literature review.
Both academic and practitioner research suggests that internal communication is the sense-making function of an organisation, finding meaning in what is happening and what is being shared (Men and Bowen 2016; Dewhurst and Fitzpatrick 2019).
Through knowing and managing what is said and shared inside an organisation, internal communication acts like a hub of information, a bridge between leadership and employees, and a connector between and among departments and employees of all levels. The potential breadth of its influence is huge and if done right, can lead successful transformations (Dahlman and Heide 2020) and effect positive change in an organisation (Barrett 2002).
On an operational level, internal communication ensures that employees receive communication at the right place (channels) and at the right time. This in turn can influence what employees know, how they feel, and what they do with the information (Dewhurst and Fitzpatrick 2019). Studies show that internal communication properly performed lead to employee engagement (Balakrishnan and Masthan 2013; Karanges et al. 2015; Kang and Sung 2017), trusting relationships (Jo and Shim 2005), organisational commitment (Walden et al. 2017), job effectiveness (Thornhill et al. 1996; Chen 2008) and satisfaction (Men 2014), external prestige (Smidts et al. 2001) and engaging workplaces (Mazzei et al. 2019).
Research on internal communication and employee identification suggests that “both symmetrical internal communication and leaders’ use of motivating language, including meaning-making, empathetic, and direction-giving languages, induced employees’ perception of a positive emotional culture of joy, companionate love, pride, and gratitude, which in turn enhanced employees’ organisational identification” (Yue et al. 2020: 1)
Recent studies suggest that at its best, internal communication can be a source of life satisfaction (Ćorić et al. 2020) and is key to achieving happiness (Lalić et al. 2020).
In the next blogpost, we will talk about the role of internal communication in a crisis.
- You will find a full list of references here.