The Role of Internal Communication in the Modern Workplace

Stuart Sinclair - May 17, 2024

The traditional office no longer exists. You only have to look back a few years to realise that what was once considered the norm is now the exception. Employees have gone back to their desks, but on their terms. Hybrid working is now the accepted standard. So, what does this mean for internal communications? How can you ensure that your internal communications strategy meets the complex requirements of today’s workplace?

It is clear that the role of internal communication is more crucial than ever before. Recent research by the Institute of Internal Communication revealed that engagement was 16 points higher among people who work in organisations with a dedicated IC team. It showed the vital role of internal communication within an organisation, demonstrating how it drives engagement and trust in CEOs.

As we adjust to the new hybrid working patterns of the modern office, this is a busy time for internal communication teams. Their primary focus will be to re-engage the workforce and help them confidently navigate the new processes and procedures of the changed office environment. Communicating with employees has never been more critical and more challenging. This blog looks at the new internal communication roles and responsibilities and how these can be simply integrated into your existing internal communications plan.

Internal Communications App

The Crucial Issue to Address: A Hybrid Workforce

With a workforce physically dispersed between the office and working from home, it’s clear that a definitive strategy is required. You’ll need highly effective internal communication in order to create a cohesive working environment for every employee.

Some workers will be returning to the office full-time; others will continue to work remotely. And the majority will split their time between the central office hub and home. The management of these employees is crucial to ensure productivity is not lost through misunderstandings and lack of engagement.

A recent survey by Salesforce revealed that many employees had developed a taste for working from home. Many workers saw the lack of commute and increased family time as a bonus; 41% appreciated the increased flexibility, and 39% enjoyed working remotely. With this in mind, it is essential that your employee communication is sensitive to the possible resistance that comes with a forced return to the office. Communications need to address the needs of both office-based and remote workers.

New Role of Internal Communication: The Six R’s

With this game-changing issue in mind, it quickly becomes clear that the internal communications role needs to adapt and adjust to the new reality. Below, we explain the role of communication in business organisation and how it will have to modify its objectives. Here are the six R’s that will need to take place within your internal communication strategy.

Internal Communications Role #1: Restore Communications

We are now dealing with a dispersed workforce that includes both in-house and remote employees. This is a difficult position for the internal communications department to find itself in. You need to cater for every worker, regardless of location, ensuring your messaging reaches out seamlessly.

The aim should now be to fully restore communications across the entire company, ensuring that every single employee is kept in the loop. Whether employees are back in the office or still working from home, the internal communication best practices need to be upheld and maintained. Your internal communication channels need to be working flawlessly, whatever your employees’ working situation.

Our advice: An internal communication app will seamlessly deliver communications company-wide. It allows employees to use their favourite hardware or software platform, thereby eliminating possible barriers.



Internal Communications Role #2: Re-establish Company Values

Many organisations have found that their company message has fallen through the cracks in recent years. Communication in a crisis is a critical task that breaks many general rules and best practices. However, the time has now come to remind your employees of your business’s core purpose and aims. Without these key objectives in the forefront of your workers’ minds, there is a risk that the company veers off track as you steer forward into the future.

Research shows that almost half (45%) of UK employees are ambassadors for their employer’s strategy, but one in four are “passengers”. They neither get it nor believe in it. This is an issue you need to tackle.

As the hybrid workplace comes into its own, now is the time to reconnect your employees to the values that set you apart from your competition. There are many internal communication ideas to convey your company mission, from building social spaces for colleagues to connect to launching social impact initiatives to bring employees together.

Our advice: Your aim is to introduce a shared purpose for everyone to engage in, structured around the company’s values and principles.

Internal Communications Role #3: Rebuild Social Networks

The social aspect of work is often overlooked. While businesses focused on technical issues and management visibility with the switch to hybrid working, they forgot the most critical element. People need friends at work. Ideally, they need a best friend. Gallup research recently discovered the power of friendship: women with a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared to women who say otherwise (29%).

Naturally, our work friendships have been negatively impacted by hybrid working patterns. Now is the time to help those friendships get back on track. Leaders need to consider how they can help people get to know each other again. Some good internal communication examples include sharing employee or team profiles across the group, encouraging philanthropic events, and promoting social activities.

Our advice: Friendships are a crucial element of engagement. Promote opportunities for social interaction via informal events and social networking platforms.  

Develop a robust internal comms strategy using our canvas

Internal Communications Role #4: Reinstate Leadership Focus

As employees become physically separated from their teams, they have become increasingly disconnected from management direction. However, in times of uncertainty, employees look to leadership to find the path forward. When the company faces unique challenges, the stakeholder’s role in internal business communication comes to the fore.

Leadership should be taking the lead in both internal and external communications. Now is the time to create designated pathways for senior leaders to check in with employees, address the workforce and explain the strategy for the months ahead. Consider using various types of internal communication, from video messaging to virtual town halls and group conversations. By delivering these communications online, you’ll be ensuring you reach both office-based and remote workers.

Our advice: Offer a dedicated company news feed, placing the spotlight on leaders and their vision for the future. An internal communications app includes built-in News Modules that make this simple to implement.

Internal Communications Role #5: Rebuild Confidence

Change is a stressful experience for the majority of employees. Gartner research reveals that as the number of tensions increases, so do the stress levels of the workforce. When there are more than five changes to cope with, 67% report feeling highly stressed. High stress levels result in reduced performance, so it is crucial to rebuild confidence after a time of excessive change.

One of the best ways to restore confidence is through recognition and reward. Many employees will have gone above and beyond their daily duties in response to the challenge of the last few years, and the role of internal communication is to recognise this openly. Celebrating success and saying a public thank you to hard-working employees is an example of internal communication that dramatically affects engagement levels.

Our advice: Create a positive culture of recognition and appreciation, including social tools such as likes and comments to allow everyone to participate.

30 ideas to engage your employees and transform your business.

Internal Communications Role #6: Re-Open Feedback Channels

Hybrid working may have reduced opportunities for employees to be seen and heard. Now is the time to open up those feedback channels and ensure everyone is empowered to speak up. With the increased separation of colleagues, teams and managers, it is harder than ever to ensure that everyone has a chance to make their feelings felt. It is internal communications role to make sure everyone gets heard.

One of the common internal communication mistakes is the failure to implement a two-way feedback channel. It is vital to keep your finger on the pulse of how your workforce is feeling, with regular and scheduled check-ups. Whether you use simple polls, an internal communication survey, or social spaces where employees can comment and connect, these two-way channels are now more important than ever.

Our advice: An internal communications app will allow you to effortlessly monitor engagement levels and understand how your employees are reacting to the current situation.

The Role of Internal Communications in 2024

In the modern workplace, the role of internal communication is to re-engage and connect with your workforce as effectively as possible. There’s no doubt that the landscape is more challenging than ever before, but the digital transformation of the workplace is a definite positive. It’s internal communications role to provide a sense of stability for employees and improve cohesion across the company. With an internal communications platform at your disposal, you’ll have all the tools and channels you need to re-engage your employees and move your business forward successfully.

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