Effective internal communication is the lifeblood of any successful organisation. At the most basic level, it ensures all employees are pulling in the same direction. They have a solid understanding of their place within the wider company hierarchy and how their individual contributions help it thrive. For those in management, it functions as the vehicle by which they disseminate company goals, values, and culture.
That might sound like wistful corporate double speak, but it’s true.
Employees are no longer confined to the office. Aside from the steady increase in the number of remote workers in recent years (over 4 million work from home in the UK alone), it’s not uncommon for modern workforces to be spread across a wide geographical area. Establishing consistent, reliable internal communication is, therefore, more difficult than ever.
In an effort to meet this challenge head-on, organisations are relying ever more on dedicated internal communications apps. However, technology is always evolving. So this alone isn't enough — they also need to be comfortable embracing modern digital media and innovative approaches to internal comms if they want to unlock the benefits.
In this article, we explore some of the most exciting trends in internal communication we expect to see in 2020.
Leaders Place an Even Greater Emphasis on Mobile
The proliferation of mobile technology — the hardware, apps, and social media channels we use every day — has had a profound impact on the way we interact online. According to recent statistics, more than 52% of worldwide website traffic in 2018 was generated on mobile devices, reflecting the reality that Millennials, in particular, find it easier to digest information if it's disseminated in short, sudden bursts.
As a result, the way in which important company information is distributed has undergone a fundamental shift.
More and more companies are embracing mobile technology to connect with their staff. Important updates, staff announcements etc. are sent directly to their employees' smartphones, making them accessible from anywhere at any time. And this is only going to grow in popularity as distribution methods become more sophisticated.
We’ve already witnessed the emergence of dynamic, customisable, fully integrated mobile apps specifically designed to facilitate internal communications within the corporate environment. Platforms that are stimulating and informative in equal measure; their purpose to raise brand awareness, boost company loyalty, and bring potentially disconnected workforces together.
It also suits modern sensibilities. For instance, 41% of Millennials said they prefer to communicate electronically at work rather than face-to-face or over the telephone, according to PwC. While 59% percent said that state-of-the-art technology was important to them when considering a job.
The Blurring of Lines With External Communications
The general consensus among thought leaders is that one of the major knock-on effects of this heightened focus on mobile, will be a blurring of the lines dividing internal and external communication.
Social media has already eroded many of these barriers. These days, connecting with your audience is as simple as posting a Tweet or Facebook status update.
People on the front line have become storytellers and unofficial brand ambassadors for their employer. Whether that's a member of the content team sharing an interesting article from a leading industry publication, or someone in HR uploading the best photos from from International Bring Your Dog To Work day. Content that used to be circulated internally, can now be used to give customers a unique perspective on life within the organisation. People get an insight into a business's values, culture, and journey. At the same time, employees engage with the company more naturally.
In a recent article published in Training Industry, Helen Martin — a change communications consultant and coach — expressed her belief that the role of individual ‘storytellers’ will be essential when it comes to improving the flow of messages within organisations over the coming years. And they will be facilitated by a the blurred lines between internal and external comms.
All of this will make the role of chief communications officer (CCO) even more important. They have to manage a more complex flow of communication and help employees understand what type of company information they're able to share on external channels. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many organisations have already gone down this route. Indeed, a report from the European Association of Communication Directors reveals that 24% of FT 500 companies employ a CCO.
An Increasingly Data-Driven Approach
With such a diverse array of technology at our disposal, the volume of data available to modern businesses is vast. However, beyond basic metrics like email open rates, the majority of enterprises have so far failed to capitalise on the true potential of this data influx. Knowing exactly how many people opened the last company update is all well and good, but that information alone tells you very little about the way it was actually received.
Big data can now give businesses insight into sentiment and behaviour. You can discover:
- Preferred methods of communication
- Time on page
- How individual employees feel about their role within the company
All of this can be used to improve employee engagement going forward.
Insights of this nature are particularly useful in the run up to major logistical changes within the company. For example, although you might think the organisation is fully prepared for a wholesale overhaul of one of your key processes, your staff might not agree.
Additionally, if we subscribe to the notion that internal and external communications will be treated as one and the same in the next decade, there are a number of advantages to be obtained when it comes to advertising. Namely, working out the types of promotions or offers that resonate with your customer base the most, their preferred method of communication, and how they feel about the company as a whole.
Convincing C-suite executives to invest in a new internal comms system is a challenge. But, with data insights at your disposal, it's easier to show a strong case for change. Likewise, these same insights can later be used to demonstrate the effectiveness of your bold new strategy once you’ve finished implementing it.
Transparency, Social Sharing, and More
There are several other trends we anticipate having an impact on internal communications over the coming years. Increased visibility of company information, dedicated employee social media groups, and an overall greater appreciation of its role within the modern workplace, to name but three.
Whichever way you look at it, what’s clear is that the future of internal communications isn’t set in stone. For that reason alone, business leaders must resist the temptation to rest on their laurels and commit to finding innovative ways to connect with their employees.
A dedicated internal communications app is certainly a great starting point, capable of simultaneously bridging the gap between employee and employer and making sure important company information is distributed in a way that can be tailored to meet each enterprise’s individual needs.
For more information on our internal communications app and how it can help you improve employee engagement within your organisation, book your 30-day free trial today.