The Seven Key Internal Communication Trends for 2024

Anna Westerman - April 4, 2024

The world of business is an ever-evolving landscape, and the dynamics of internal communications are keeping pace. Internal communications are playing an increasingly important role in today’s modern workplace, adapting in response to new tech, cultural shifts and changing office environments. What worked last year won’t necessarily work this year. So, the big question is, are you keeping up?

Today’s organisations face a working environment of increasing complexity. Hybrid working is now the norm. The employee base is changing. And the digital workplace is becoming increasingly sophisticated. In order to thrive in such a challenging business situation, the internal communications strategy needs to be ready to adapt.

This blog explores the evolution of employee communication in this complex new reality. We look at the trends in internal communication that will be making their mark in 2024 and how they will change the face of business as you know it.

Internal Communications App

Trend #1: The spotlight on internal communications

What’s changed?

There’s no question that businesses are coming to recognise the true importance of internal communication. We know that effective internal communication is the answer to driving change in the workplace and ensuring strong employee engagement. However, only a few years ago, convincing senior management to invest in our plans was a struggle. In fact, in the pre-pandemic era, the investment in the internal communication function was absurdly low, the equivalent of the cost of a chocolate bar per employee per month, according to Reba.

However, times have changed. The challenges of the last few years have put a spotlight on the vital role of internal communication. The need to communicate quickly and effectively with employees has become a pressing concern. Outdated systems and poor staff uptake have been highlighted for urgent improvement and investment. That archaic employee intranet that has been overlooked for so long is now top of the meeting agenda. And with the switch to hybrid working, it is no longer acceptable that remote workers don’t have access to updated software.

What’s the impact?

Internal communications professionals felt more valued in their roles over the last few years. In 2024, they’ve climbed even higher on the company priority list. While there has been a significant increase in the workload, IC professionals also report improved engagement with employees and a more substantial role in the leadership team. It appears the internal communication definition has been expanded and magnified to encompass a much higher-ranking significance. And the rise to prominence is expected to continue. We should see continued investment in new technologies and practical solutions over the coming year.

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Trend #2: The switch to a digital workplace

What’s changed?

As remote work becomes more ingrained in our lives, internal communications tools have come under urgent review. Traditional methods, such as printed newsletters, town hall meetings, and conferences, are no longer viable. Even the well-established channels of email and intranet are coming into question. When every communication is vital, it’s no longer acceptable to be unable to track whether it has been received. Internal communication metrics have taken on a new level of significance.

Of course, not everyone will be working remotely throughout 2024, and this brings its own issues. The hybrid model is now firmly entrenched in our working culture. Some employees will be office-based, some will work from home, and others will be on the road. But wherever they are, they need to be contactable at all times in the event of an emergency. It’s become clear that organisations must be equipped with internal communication channels that can reach people instantly, without fail, wherever they are.

What’s the impact?

Over the last year, many companies have found that digital is the answer, and this trend is set to gather pace. They can communicate more effectively and immediately via digital channels. Whether this is real-time notifications, video conferencing or corporate social media, the key difference is the ability to instantly attract employees’ attention and reliably track the impact of the communications. We can expect to see a continued uptake of the internal communications app, a software platform that effortlessly connects all employees across the digital space.

Trend #3: The accommodation of hybrid work patterns

What’s changed?

One of the most apparent internal communications trends that surfaced last year was the sudden awareness of the hybrid working schedule. Previously overlooked, the hybrid home-based/office-based worker is now at the top of the priority list. Now, when leaders are reviewing communicating with employees, the hybrid worker is their number one concern. They have become a prime focus.

Who are these employees? They may be dealing with customers or patients; they may be creating the product or out on the road delivering the goods. Or they may be in head office, attending meetings and communicating with colleagues. In short, they are the people who make things happen. It has become increasingly clear that hybrid workers are amongst the most essential employees in the organisation. However, these people were traditionally the most underserved regarding access to technology. When it comes to effective communication in the workplace, these are the employees who previously drew the short straw.

What’s the impact?

Now that hybrid workers have become a priority within the internal communications plan, we’re starting to connect better than ever before. It’s now entirely accepted that it is no longer good enough to post a memo on the intranet, and hope that somehow everyone gets to hear about it. Hybrid workers need access to communication tools and technology that connects with them instantly. An internal communication platform has been the solution for many organisations. The easy-to-implement employee app re-establishes channels and creates a network of team-building connections.

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Trend #4: The demand for real-time information

What’s changed?

The workplace of 2024 is a fast-paced environment. Time is of the essence. Whereas once it was perfectly fine to fire out an email and wait for employees across the company to read it over the course of the week, this is no longer an option. It is now one of the critical internal communication best practices to ensure that messages are delivered instantly.

The directives, policies and news you need to share with staff are constantly in flux. A rule that applied on Monday may need to change on Tuesday morning. When it comes to communicating change, a delay isn’t just undesirable; it could also be dangerous. If there is a time lag in passing on crucial information, people will continue to act in a way that could end up endangering their own health and safety.

What’s the impact?

Everyone’s talking about real-time notifications, pop-up messages and instant messaging. The need for instant connection has come to the fore. An internal communications app can connect to employees via their smartphone or whichever software platform they prefer. This makes it simple to circulate real-time updates across the organisation, ensuring everyone receives the same message simultaneously. Instant messaging is becoming one of the critical types of internal communication in 2024.

Trend #5: The increased emphasis on mental wellbeing

What’s changed?

A heightened awareness of mental health and workplace health issues is one of the main trends in internal communication this year. Employee health and wellbeing has always been on the agenda, but in truth, it used to be relatively low on the list. Faced with a choice of publishing the latest sales figures or running a poll on the office mood, previously, the report would always have taken priority. However, if you want to improve internal communication, wellbeing should be one of your main concerns.

The pandemic alerted us to the very real issue of mental and physical health issues affecting our employees. Isolation, stress and anxiety are very real problems and all need to be addressed with sensitivity. Mental health has been brought into sharp focus, and savvy employers will take note of this trend. According to McKinsey, 96% of companies provided additional mental health resources in the years following the pandemic. However, only one in six employees reported feeling supported. The takeaway? We need to do better.

What’s the impact?

Opening up feedback channels has never been more important. Whether you send out an extensive internal communications survey or a quick pulse poll, it’s vital to know how your employees are feeling. A new internal communications trend is developing toward monitoring the ongoing health of the organisation and its people. Regular and scheduled check-ups are now an essential part of the internal communication process. After all, healthy and happy employees are the key to business success.

Trend #6. The need to rebuild trust and confidence

What’s changed?

The events of recent years have plunged our trust in the government to an all-time low. But it’s not just the politicians who are letting us down. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, our confidence in the media, social media, and of course, the government is at a crisis point. The Barometer points to “an epidemic of misinformation and widespread mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world.” 

However, businesses can take this opportunity to shine. In 2024, they have the chance to become a trusted institution in the eyes of their employees, acting in an ethical and competent manner that builds rather than destroys trust. This trust can be built in part by the internal communications role of communicating change to employees. By imparting the rapidly changing guidelines and updates in a timely, reliable manner, they create a bond of confidence that was previously not in play.

What’s the impact?

Never has accuracy and information quality been so important. It’s crucial that what is being sent out is not only 100% correct but also easily understood and digested by every employee. The role of internal communication is now to act as the guardian of information accuracy. By implementing technology that allows for the review and ultimate control of outgoing communications, you can build that critical element of trust with your employee base.

Trend #7. The requirement for real, measurable results

What’s changed?

It’s no longer enough to fire out a weekly email and decide your work is done. With the increased level of attention placed on a regular internal communication audit, you need to prove your messaging is delivering on its promises. Tracking the effectiveness of our communication strategies is more than just ticking boxes for a management report. It’s about assessing performance and gaining insights that will shape our future communication efforts for the better.

It's now increasingly important to put internal communication metrics in place. What’s important to your organisation? Do you need to know that your internal comms are being received in the first place? Do you need reassurance that your employees are actively engaging with the content? Do you need to assess which channels are delivering, and which are missing the mark?

What’s the impact?

Organisations are implementing various tools to measure the effectiveness of their internal communications. From simple metrics like open rates and click-through rates for emails to more advanced analytics provided by an internal communications app, we need to have the hard figures at our fingertips.

The internal communication survey is also having a bit of a moment in 2024. Besides quantitative data, qualitative feedback provides valuable insights that the numbers just don’t deliver. Regular surveys and feedback mechanisms allow employees to express their opinions about the effectiveness of internal communications, offering a more comprehensive overview of how strategies are performing. It’s all about giving employees a voice.

Trends for 2024: The big picture

It’s reassuring to see that there is a growing understanding that effective internal communication is integral to the success of any company, large or small. The key to success in 2024 is more than simply acknowledging the need for new tools and strategies. It’s about realising that these developments will fundamentally enhance how we connect with our workforce. With an open and flexible approach, these seven new trends have the potential to transform internal communications. They can elevate them from a basic business function to a core strategy in driving employee engagement, productivity and happiness.

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