Top 5 internal comms trends for 2014 – so far!
Date posted: 3 July 2014 | Posted in: Communication
So here we are – half-way through 2014 already – and we are reflecting on the internal communications reviews we’ve completed in recent months and the trends we’ve seen from our work with organisations across different sectors. Some of these trends are different to last year. Take a read through our Top 5, with our usual challenge to internal communications teams on each issue!
Going Social and Mobile
Use of social media in internal comms is still the talking point in 2014. But it’s also a story that’s continuing to evolve as internal communicators get to grips with how to use social tools in their strategy to enhance employee voice and foster collaboration, dialogue and debate.
Organisations are increasingly using established tools such as Yammer and Jive or developing tools on their existing intranet platforms. But we also worry that some businesses are placing too much emphasis on it as ‘the latest thing’ at the expense of face to face, which in our view (and employees continue to tell us) should still be at the heart of any internal communications strategy.
With smart phone use exploding and the growth of ‘Bring Your Own Device’, businesses are also looking to make their intranets mobile device friendly. For organisations with field-based employees, the capability to connect those people to business news, developments and collaboration quickly and easily via the intranet on their phone is becoming essential.
Challenge to IC teams: what are you doing to develop your social and mobile capability as one element of your strategy?
Connecting with leaders
This has been a consistent trend for the last few years and if anything is stronger than ever this year. Employees want to connect with their leadership on a regular basis. They want to see the whites of their eyes and know what they’re thinking; they want to discuss key issues, share ideas and give them direct feedback. Put simply – they want a conversation.
Once a year isn’t enough for a fast changing business – leaders need to be out there in the organisation connecting with people informally at all levels at every opportunity, maintaining a continual dialogue, and in particular – listening!
This isn’t about letting middle managers off the hook by doing the job for them – it needs to happen alongside communication through line management.
Challenge to IC teams: are you creating regular opportunities for your people at all levels to connect with your leadership – and getting your leaders out there to listen?
A new trend for us in the last few months is that employees are telling us that internal communications in corporates are becoming increasingly ‘inhuman’.
They don’t mean this in the worse sense of course – they’re not saying they’re cruel! What they’re telling us is that communications are too transactional and lack humanity – there’s too much about strategy, priorities, programmes and initiatives – and not enough about the people working hard to deliver them. And we all know what interests people more.
In a recent review for a client the absence of any kind of employee publication meant that there were no ‘human’ stories about people and teams bringing the strategy to life, the successes and facing into the challenges.
A publication can tell the people stories, help to build a community, and perhaps most importantly give employees a voice alongside the management voice (see below!)
Challenge to IC teams: is there enough of a people focus to your communications?
Employees want a voice
Internal communications used to be about messaging – ‘keeping our people informed’ – it was all top down but of course a lot’s changed since then, and employees are very clear that they want to do more than just ask questions. They want to give feedback, challenge strategy, put forward ideas and share their experience of dealing with customers on the front-line. Put simply: they want their voice to be heard.
Internal channels – including face to face – which just air and promote the management view are a big turnoff for employees. They expect their voice to be clearly visible within the organisation’s internal channels.
The challenge for internal communicators can often be to persuade the leadership that airing employee opinions on key issues – including ones that challenge the management view – is healthy, wins respect and drives engagement.
Challenge to IC teams: are you doing enough to promote employee voice in your channels?
Change communications still not right
Change is now a constant in organisations and it is widely acknowledged that the success of any change implementation is driven by the effectiveness of communications – but we are still seeing organisations getting this wrong. The typical score for agreeing with the statement ‘Changes are communicated effectively’ in our internal communications review surveys is around 30%.
We hear a consistent message from employees in focus groups which can be summed up as: ‘Involve us as early as you can in planned changes to enable us to give our input to drive a good solution. Then ensure effective communication through to implementation and beyond, particularly face to face.’ The root cause is often down to lack of professional communication resources to support the change programme and plan the communications effectively, taking all primary and secondary audiences into account. We’ve seen increasing demand for experienced change communications resource from clients in the last year.
Our Challenge to IC teams: are you giving your employees a consistent, involving and positive experience when it comes to communicating change?
If we can help you meet any of these challenges in the second half of 2014, do get in touch.