Internal communications has been going through an evolution. The internal comms function is being taken more seriously than ever before. According to Edelman, more chief communications officers report to the CEO than ever before (46% in 2021 compared to 34% in 2014). After the pandemic, 75% of communicators felt their value increased. And with value and perceived ROI, comes budget and increased trust. Comms teams no longer have to solely rely on outdated tech to reach the workforce. In this blog, we’ll break down what the future of internal communications will look like.
How Internal Communication is Changing
The pandemic proved to the C-Suite that internal comms is not a nice-to-have. It’s completely vital to the success of a company. IC teams are not just the people who “comms things up” or help you edit your copy. They are strategists.
The State of the Sector always reports on shifting priorities, channels and their effectiveness, and what internal comms teams see as their top challenges. This year, the focus has shifted on key issues like employee wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, new ways of working, increased leadership visibility, a greater investment in digital channels, and empowerment of managers to better engage with their teams. Gallagher’s report also focused on digital channels and their effectiveness and found that 31% of internal comms professionals use mobile apps, but found them 70% effective. This makes them one of the most effective digital tools.
These internal comms trends are reinforced in Edelman’s Future of Corporate Communications report, which found:
- 70% of Chief Communications Officers (CCOs) report CommsTech will be a top area of investment in 2022
- 62% of CCOs report they will focus more on employee communication in 2022
- 56% of CCOs reported an increased use in internal comms tech in 2021
More than ever before, comms teams have access to mobile-first technology and CommsTech usage is on the rise.
The Dispersed Workforce Dilemma
If you are in the HR or Communications department, you no doubt have “improve employee engagement” as a goal. Companies define engagement in different ways, but we all strive to improve the employee experience, increase retention, and boost productivity.
But there’s a big problem. Without mobile-first channels in place, companies struggle to reach their distributed workforce.
It has become clear in recent years that we need to meet employees with information when and where they want to receive it—via mobile tech. Shifting to mobile internal communication and a digital workplace will be critical as remote work becomes the status quo. The old ways for communicating with and engaging the workforce will no longer be enough.
Why The Future of Internal Communications Will Be Mobile-First
We survey the dispersed and deskless workforce annually, and we always ask them about the channels they’re using as well as what channels they wish they had access to. And each year, mobile channels make up ground.
|Year||% With Access to Texting||% With Access to Employee Apps|
82% of employees also report being willing to use their personal phones to receive company communications. This willingness comes from:
- Wanting the convenience of using their device, or only using one device rather than having a company issued phone to manage as well.
- Feeling indifferent about using their phone, basically saying they see no reason why not.
- Wanting better access to communication, information, and other people at the company.
If this is the direction things are shifting, especially as we embrace more remote and hybrid work, we need to be prepared to offer employees the channels they want and easier access to information.
Why Embrace Mobile Internal Communication?
Employees are used to receiving information through their phones the moment it becomes newsworthy. Communication that impacts their work and the company they work for should be no different.
Using an internal comms app provides easier access to important information that employees need to be successful in their jobs. This includes executive comms, HR updates, and access to documents, paystubs, etc. But it also allows you to share “nice-to-know” information. This is the feel-good stories that communicators often shelve because they don’t have the space or time to fit them into their normal messaging cadence. And this content can be shared through engaging multimedia platforms such as video, podcasts, photos, and blogs.
Engaging Deskless Employees With Mobile Technology
A few years ago, we conducted a survey of 1,000 deskless employees to learn what they need and where the gaps in communications are. We found that:
- Only 56% of deskless employees felt connected and engaged by their employers
- 27% receive no recognition at all
- And 29% said that more frequent and effective internal comms would positively impact their views of their job
Fast forward to 2021, and the results aren’t that different.
- Although general satisfaction with the amount of messages deskless employees received, there was a sizable gap between managers and non-managers.
- Employees are starved for information that matters to them. Across the board, frontline workers reported wanting more communication about employee benefits, employee recognition, training and development, workplace safety, etc.
Embrace the Future of Internal Communications
I spent the last decade searching for ways to evolve internal comms and drive engagement at Chipotle. That’s where I discovered my passion for mobile technology as the solution.
So, while you’re fine-tuning your strategy, I encourage you to look at what you need to communicate this year and how you will communicate it. Because the channel and ease of access to information is just as important as the content itself.
If you’re ready to invest in more mobile-first channels that meet your workforce where they are, please get in touch.
About the Author
Amy Jenkins is theEMPLOYEEapp’s Director of Client Strategy & Success. With over ten years of experience working in internal communication, Amy helps our clients create mobile communication strategies that get results.
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