The Ultimate Guide to Build Internal Community for L&D Teams

If you’re looking to empower your organization with a robust internal community, this article cuts straight to the chase.

What you'll learn in this article:

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If you’re looking to empower your organization with a robust internal community, this article cuts straight to the chase.

Discover the key ingredients for a thriving workplace culture: open communication, shared purpose, and genuine engagement. Learn how to inspire connection that resonates across all team members and leverages their full potential, all while keeping your search for fluff-free, actionable advice satisfied.

What we will explore together:

  • Establishing internal communities within an organization heightens employee satisfaction and reduces turnover by fostering a culture of belonging, collaboration, and trust.
  • Embracing technology like Disco can significantly enhance the operations, engagement, and revenue growth of internal communities through features like AI automation and deep Slack integration.
  • Effective community management is vital for nurturing a cohesive internal community, requiring a strategic approach involving stakeholder involvement, clear communication channels, and recognition and reward systems.

What are Internal Communities?

Simply, Internal Communities are closed communities within an organization or a company where members communicate and collaborate for a specific purpose, such as team connection or project organization. Internal communities are built to stay connected and engaged with team members to maximize productivity and teamwork.

An example of an internal community is IBM's CSR Influencers Network, where employees work together to make a social impact by organizing activities and involving newcomers. Joining an internal community like this can help you make a difference and connect with like-minded colleagues.

Internal VS External Communities: Understanding the Key Differences

Both internal and external communities play vital roles in an organization. However, their focus, objectives, and audiences are distinct. To better understand these differences, let's delve deeper into the characteristics and key features of each.

Internal Communities are primarily focused on employees within an organization. They are designed to foster collaboration, communication, and engagement among team members. This type of community is built to enhance productivity, promote a sense of belonging, and create a unified company culture.

It's a space where employees can share ideas, ask questions, solve problems together, and build stronger relationships with their colleagues. Examples include project teams, employee resource groups, and innovation communities.

External Communities, on the other hand, are aimed at customers, partners, or any group outside the organization. They provide a platform for these external stakeholders to engage with the brand, discuss common interests, provide feedback, and offer support.

An external community is an excellent tool for customer service, marketing, and product development. It allows organizations to build stronger relationships with their customers, gather valuable user-generated content, and gain insights into customer needs and preferences.

Examples include customer forums, partner networks, and user groups. Here's a quick comparison to visualize the differences between internal and external communities:

Internal Communities in Modern Organizations

Internal communities play a crucial role in fostering a sense of belonging, encouraging collaboration, and strengthening employer branding, ultimately leading to increased employee satisfaction and productivity. Embracing internal communities can significantly enhance the organization's culture and performance.

Diverse group of employees collaborating in a modern workspace

Internal communities are rapidly becoming integral components of modern organizations. They serve as vibrant ecosystems that:

  • Foster a sense of belonging
  • Encourage collaboration
  • Strengthen employer branding
  • Provide a natural support system
  • Bring your team closer together
  • Support personal and professional development
  • Create a culture of transparency and trust

Constructing a robust internal employee community can halve the risk of turnover, enhancing employee satisfaction and productivity. These communities encourage members to keep employees active by providing opportunities for collaboration, communication, and personal growth, creating a positive and cohesive organization that resonates with everyone involved.

Community Management in Internal Communities

Community manager facilitating engaging discussion among members

Effective community management is a cornerstone for thriving internal communities, especially for Learning and Development (L&D) teams tasked with fostering a culture of continuous learning and collaboration.

Community managers drive engagement, mediate conflicts, and measure success, ensuring the community remains vibrant and productive. They guide the community toward its goals, foster a sense of belonging, and create a warm, inviting atmosphere that encourages active participation.

This proactive engagement is particularly beneficial for L&D teams, as it creates an environment conducive to knowledge sharing, problem-solving, and professional development.

Another key component of community management in internal communities is maximizing the power of technology. Platforms like Disco can significantly enhance the operations and growth of internal communities.

This all-in-one corporate training platform optimizes operations, reducing costs and driving efficiency. By utilizing AI automation and deep Slack integration, Disco simplifies community management, allowing for more precise measurement of engagement and performance metrics.

This data-driven approach enables L&D teams to assess the effectiveness of their initiatives, make necessary improvements, and demonstrate the impact of their efforts on employee well-being and productivity.

Benefits of Building Internal Communities (+Examples)

Addressing the challenges of employee motivation and retention is crucial for all organizations, small or large, due to the substantial costs of low retention rates. Prioritizing employee well-being, which encompasses creating a valued and growth-oriented environment, can boost productivity and satisfaction, leading to business growth.

This section will delve into how building internal communities can significantly enhance employee well-being, motivation, and retention, thereby benefiting both the employees and the business.

Cultivating a Sense of Belonging Among Employees

A strong sense of belonging within a company can significantly impact the overall job satisfaction of employees. Internal communities provide an environment that encourages employees to connect, share knowledge, and develop a sense of belonging.

This sense of belonging can be fostered through various strategies, including promoting teamwork and collaboration, fostering open communication, recognizing individual contributions, and creating relationship-building opportunities.

Company social events and training opportunities can also play a substantial role in creating a strong sense of belonging among employees. Events like team building activities, town halls, award ceremonies, or volunteering opportunities foster a strong sense of community and belonging that goes beyond their regular interactions.

For remote workplaces, internal learning communities can be much more value-added to upskill employees, virtual social chats, weekly town halls, and annual offline meetups. These events can also contribute to talent development by providing opportunities for employees to learn from one another, share experiences, and develop new skills.

Get the best out of this benefit with:

Community-wide events can be organized with a corporate training platform like Disco, plus creating social feeds, discussion threads, and learning experiences exclusively and personalized for your employees.

What you can do is start weekly town halls with our customizable and automated community event feature. It would automatically invite your enrolled employees after setting it up in the Disco dashboard. And if you are using Slack for workplace communication, Disco also integrates Slack so you can streamline your communication between two platforms.

Encouraging Cross-Functional Collaboration

Cross-functional collaboration is a powerful catalyst for innovation and problem-solving within organizations. Internal communities provide a platform that breaks down silos, allowing employees to engage with teammates from various departments, leading to innovative ideas and better problem-solving capabilities.

Elevating cross-functional collaboration within internal communities necessitates the nurturing of teamwork and communication, the development of a culture of collaboration, and the use of a mix of formal and informal communication channels.

Get the best out of this benefit with:

Member management within internal communities can be challenging when you are doing it yourself. Especially with mid to large organizations with 100+ members, this is quite hard to manage manually. Get the best out of this internal community advantage with Disco's member management feature where you can effortlessly create groups, and sub-groups, categorize with tags, and create roles for cross-functional collaborations.

An example would be, creating roles for all department heads, project leads, and specialists. After that, you can group them by the cohorts they are in (batch 2021, batch 2020, etc) -- the dates they were hired.

Strengthening Employer Branding

The power of a robust internal community extends beyond the organization’s confines. By fostering a sense of belonging and building strong personal relationships among employees, an internal community enhances the company’s reputation both internally and externally. Effective internal communication plays a crucial role in nurturing this community spirit.

A strong internal community can significantly impact talent acquisition by fostering internal mobility and role sharing, as well as boosting the chances of employee referrals for open positions. When employees feel a sense of belonging and have strong personal relationships within the company, it enhances the overall employee experience and makes the company more appealing to job seekers.

Get the best out of this benefit with:

Showcase employees' stories on your website or Glassdoor, sharing their work experience in your company can attract high-quality candidates. In addition, employees would feel valued that you showcase their experiences outside the organization.

You could also invite these top-of-the-line employees to share their experiences during your onboarding orientation. This way, new employees would know how it is to work at your company and what they can expect realistically. By doing so, you are increasing the retention rate by aligning employee-employer expectations with each other. Customize your onboarding process using Disco and organize a live orientation session.

5 Practical Steps to Build an Internal Community (+Use Cases)

Building an impactful internal community requires a strategic approach. Identifying community members, establishing effective communication channels, and implementing recognition and reward systems are essential steps in this process.

Key stakeholders discussing impactful strategies for the internal community

With the right strategies and tools, a vibrant internal community can become a powerhouse of collaboration, innovation, and growth. This section provides practical steps and insights to create a thriving internal community that fosters a vibrant company culture.

Step #1. Identifying Key Stakeholders and Leaders

Recognizing key stakeholders and leaders is pivotal in the construction of a successful internal community. These individuals will provide guidance, support, and oversight, and help define the vision and target audience of the community.

Involving key stakeholders such as management, human resources, and other relevant departments is crucial for fostering trust, respect, and empathy among employees, improving communication and knowledge sharing, and ensuring synergy in community-building efforts. Employee engagement plays a significant role in achieving these goals.

Use Case: One notable example of involving key stakeholders and leaders in the internal community is the concept of a Capability Academy.

A coined term and concept by industry expert, Josh Bersin, Capability Academy is a strategic initiative that aligns learning and development with the company's core competencies and business goals. This strategy focuses on developing and nurturing the critical skills that directly impact the organization's performance and competitiveness.

In the context of an internal community, a Capability Academy can serve as a platform for C-level executives and leaders to engage with employees, share their expertise, and foster a culture of continuous learning and development. It provides an avenue for leaders to directly influence the skills enhancement of their teams, strengthening the internal community and aligning it with the organization's strategic goals.

Step #2. Establishing Effective Communication Channels

Another key step in building a successful internal community is the establishment of effective communication channels. By utilizing multiple communication channels, such as Disco's messaging and social feeds, email newsletters, team meetings, and Slack communication tool--you can create a centralized hub for collaboration, engagement, and fostering an online community.

Clear communication community guidelines and regular updates on strategic priorities are vital for enhancing community communication. By doing so, you ensure that everyone is on the same page, fostering a sense of unity and common purpose.

Use Case: Are you using Slack as your workplace communication tool? Streamline your communication channel with Disco's Slack integration.

It's easy to do, just ensure you have created a Slack group, and then in the admin panel of your Disco's dashboard, click on "Connect Slack". Proceed with the connection procedure, making sure that the Slack Workspace shown at the upper right corner of the screen is the correct one, then click on "Allow".

Voila! You are ready to enjoy the automation capability of Slack and Disco! Here's the in-depth tutorial.

Step #3. Identifying Valuable Community Activities

Consider various activities like self-paced courses for continuous learning, online courses for structured learning experiences, and community events for fostering camaraderie. Online or offline events can range from webinars and workshops to social gatherings and team-building exercises.

Additionally, a resource hub can be created within the community platform, acting as a centralized location for valuable resources that members can access anytime. Implementing assessment forms or surveys can help gather feedback, measure engagement and satisfaction, and identify areas for improvement.

Use Case: The focus should be on identifying the top three priorities that align with your community's needs and implementing them in your community platform. For example, the 3 priorities are:

  • self-paced course for sales rep training
  • onboarding training for new members, and
  • weekly lunch and learn for everyone

Start grouping your sales representatives into the Disco platform, and then design your curriculum for sales rep training with your L&D team. Use Disco's AI writing tool and image generator to fasten your content creation.

4. Implementing Recognition and Reward Systems

By recognizing and rewarding members for their contributions, you foster a sense of accomplishment and belonging within the community. Incentives such as badges, reactions, award systems, and gamification can ignite enthusiasm and drive active participation in your internal community.

Use Case: Create a leaderboard for your internal community members, and reward the top performers every week by posting this in your discussion feeds. By the end of the year, you can organize an award ceremony for the best employee of the year and other awards, backed by data from your community analytics.

5. Selecting the Right Community Platform

Selecting the right community platform is crucial for optimizing your content creation and operations. A well-chosen platform can streamline your work process, saving hundreds of hours that can be allocated to more significant tasks rather than repetitive work.

Supercharge Your Learning Community

A step-by-step guide to build and grow a thriving learning community.

The Learning Community Playbook by Disco

DISCO - The #1 Community Platform for Employee Communities

One such platform is Disco, an AI-powered community solution that is specifically designed to cater to both internal and external communities. As an award-winning corporate learning platform, Disco offers top-of-the-line features at an affordable price, making it an ideal choice for Learning and Development teams.

For only $79 monthly, you can start your internal community to ensure your employees' well-being. You could also try it first with our 14-day free trial or experience it live with our product tour!

Whether you're fostering a robust internal community within your organization, or building an engaging external community with your customers or partners, Disco has got you covered. With its wide range of features and intuitive design, you can effortlessly manage, engage, and grow your communities all in one place.

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The Learning Community Playbook by Disco

Supercharge your learning community

The Learning Community Playbook delivers actionable insights, innovative frameworks, and valuable strategies to spark engagement, nurture growth, and foster deeper connections. Access this resource and start building a vibrant learning ecosystem today!

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