A happy employee is a productive employee, as the adage goes. To take it a step further, an informed employee is a happy employee.

Enter the internal newsletter. While often underutilized or even outright ignored, an internal newsletter is actually a useful tool for boosting productivity and morale in the workplace. When developed with care, an effective company newsletter can:

  • Keep your employees informed and up-to-date on what’s happening at your business
  • Break down barriers between employees, especially at companies large enough to have multiple teams or departments
  • Reduce inbox congestion by succinctly covering what would normally require multiple emails among your staff
  • Give employees consistent and brand-appropriate talking points that they can share with their families and social circles, helping generate positive word-of-mouth for your business

That’s a lot riding on one internal publication that may be generated infrequently. Here’s how to do it right — and what to avoid:

DO focus on your audience

This may seem simple. Your audience is your employees, right? But consider what’s important to them, what they want to know about and what will help them make better use of their limited time. This guides the content you include in the newsletter. What should you cover that will make those employees feel that reading it was a valuable use of their time?

DON’T cram in every single thing you can think of

While one of an internal newsletter’s main goals may be to update employees, most employees do not need updates and news on everything. Cherry-pick the most important or relevant points. Opt for the news that will give employees tools to do their jobs better.

DO include important company information

Depending on developments at your company, the time of year and various other factors, these are the types of topics that may be relevant for an internal newsletter issue:

  • Product or service updates
  • Employee benefits or perks information
  • Competitor updates
  • Upcoming training opportunities and news on technology updates
  • Details on job vacancies
  • Industry-specific innovations or news
  • Changes in leadership
  • A message from the president, owner or CEO
  • Employee-created content
  • News on company celebrations
  • Employee spotlights
  • Customer survey results and actions the company is taking to improve processes or to reward good performance

DON’T be disrespectful

No one wants to write — or read — a dull employee newsletter. That said, tread carefully when using humor. Don’t single out employees or customers for teasing, even it’s meant in fun or supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Keep in mind the old business email rule that says you should never write something that you wouldn’t want to see published on the front page of The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. That may be extreme, but employee newsletters do have a way of finding their way into customers’ inboxes once in a while.

DO tell the truth

All companies hit rough patches from time to time, and employees pick up on it when it happens. Don’t try to cover or obscure the truth. Be straightforward about challenges and open about the solutions your company is pursuing.

DON’T get hung up on a schedule if your business doesn’t warrant it

Many small businesses are too small to sustain a weekly or even monthly internal newsletter. That said, once a year is probably not frequent enough. Consider your size, your goals and the needs of your team members when scheduling internal newsletters. You’ll probably find a rhythm that works for you, whether that’s bimonthly, quarterly or on an irregular schedule.

DO write in a normal, conversational tone

The internal newsletter is your chance to have a conversation with your staff. Save the jargon and buzzwords for marketing materials and press releases.

DON’T go on forever

Just as you would with an email campaign to customers, think about how to say what needs to be said — then say it as economically as possible. Keep the various items you cover contained to short, bite-sized segments that are only a few sentences long and can be read quickly.

DO use visual elements and regular features

Photos, videos, infographics, eye-catching colors and other visual elements can help break up a newsletter. They also help segment different topics while inviting the reader to continue to the next one. Consider using regular, recurring features such as an employee spotlight, guest employee columnists or answers to common staff member questions to provide a sense of continuity and give readers something to look forward to.

DON’T get stuck in a rut

A/B test your internal newsletters to see what resonates with your readership. Use that feedback to create an employee newsletter that’s always improving.

Follow these tips, and you’ll create an internal newsletter your employees look forward to.

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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.

© 2017 – 2018, John Habib. All rights reserved.