It’s 2023, and our workforces don’t look like they used to. Thanks to technology tools, globalization, and the impacts of COVID, internal communications now face a myriad of new challenges. This has created a gap for communicators in how they are connecting with employees. According to Gallagher’s 2022/2023 State of the Sector Report, three-quarters of surveyed employers (74%) said that the purpose of their internal communications strategy is to shape the culture and create a sense of belonging. However, only half (56%) believe their employees understand the organization’s strategy, vision and purpose.
The key to successful internal communications lies in ensuring employees are happy, effective, and productive. Additionally fostering a strong connection to company initiatives is essential. On the flip side, mishandled communications can leave employees feeling confused, unproductive, and disconnected.
A Need to Recalibrate Communications
The same survey by Gallagher showed that the second most important priority for respondents in 2023 was refreshing internal communications strategy. The changing workplace landscape requires a strategy to reach employees on their terms.
The best internal communications leaders continually reassess their strategies so they’re sure they are engaging and connecting with their workforce. Your company’s goals and strategic objectives may have changed, or there may be a new change initiative in the works. And it is your job to make sure that the employee experience is always personalized.
Frontline workers and contract employees have unique concerns, stresses, and factors that keep them motivated to perform at high levels. A strong, cohesive workforce communications program cannot be an afterthought. Also, internal communicators cannot rely on standard or legacy methods of reaching freelance, frontline, and gig economy workers and expect ideal results. Leaders must explore new options for communication. These options must fully integrate their communications initiatives. In this way, they will proactively shape the future of work and invest in human capital management. As a result, they can become communicators of change.
Internal communication tools
It is no longer enough to have an intranet, send out all-staff emails and expect employees to feel engaged and informed. Today’s internal communications solutions rely on advanced technology to help internal communicators deliver messages more effectively and efficiently and track analytics and data on engagement.
To truly engage employees, companies need the right internal communication solution. This may include a combination of tools for apps, software, platforms, and email.
Mobile apps to reach the front line
We love our smartphones in our daily lives. They offer convenience and help us stay informed and connected. So why come to work and use old technology? Many organizations, especially those with deskless or frontline employees, are turning to internal communication apps to address this issue.
Grainger, the leading industrial supply manufacturer, needed a way to reach their globally dispersed, multilingual, and largely deskless employees. As the landscape of the digital workplace evolved at a rapid pace, Grainger knew it was time to go beyond a traditional internal communication ecosystem. The company created an omnichannel intelligent communication platform—including a mobile app that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. They found that employees engaged with content on the app as much as 15 times more than on email.
An Intranet is no longer enough
Companies have relied on internal communication software, like their intranets, to reach employees. But, most intranets are clunky and technologically out-of-date, or simply inaccessible to employees who don’t work at their desks. As employers rethink their internal communications strategies, a focus on real-time information and technology that can reach employees where they are, when they are ready, and with content relevant to them can be a game-changer.
The best communications teams use workforce communications platforms because tools with just one capability, such as email or the intranet, don’t work well alone. You need to have an integrated system and a multi-channel approach, especially if you have a change initiative.
Nebraska Medicine needed a better communications delivery system. It needed to reach a broad spectrum of roles with information that was not dependent on email. The team knew they were looking for a complete digital employee experience solution. A solution that was not just somewhere to store documents or send emails. In an effort to modernize their intranet, Nebraska Medicine wanted to provide a place for employees to log in for the “need to know,” but stay for the “nice to know.” With an updated intranet and an omnichannel approach, they saw 90 per cent early adoption from their employees.
Intelligent communication platforms
Apps, intranets and emails are all great tools, but the new landscape of internal communications is tied together by intelligent communications. Intelligent communication platforms are all about delivering the right message through the right channel at the right time utilizing AI and machine learning.
Josh Bersin recently stated in The New World of Intelligent Employee Communications, “Employee-centric communication depends on a new way of thinking, designing, and executing, and it needs new technologies to help it personalize and orchestrate. Intelligent communication platforms allow you to see a richer view of your employees’ journeys so you can make actionable, impactful decisions faster and drive better outcomes.”
Intelligent communication platforms also help employers combat digital information overload by knowing if a particular employee has received several communications. If so, it will hold back on sending more communications to help avoid fatigue.
Phillips 66, a diversified energy manufacturing and logistics company headquartered in Houston, utilized AI and intelligent communications to do just that. The company uses an AI content delivery platform that uses behavioural data about their employees to determine the best time, format and relevant channel for delivering communications. Since implementing this platform, Phillips 66 has doubled employee engagement in corporate messaging.
By harnessing the power of data and behavioural insights, these intelligent communication platforms enable organizations to create tailored communication experiences that resonate with employees. They also provide valuable analytics and metrics to measure engagement and effectiveness, allowing internal communicators to refine their strategies and make data-driven decisions.
The new landscape of internal communications demands a proactive and adaptive approach to engage employees effectively. By embracing advanced technology, refreshing strategies, and leveraging intelligent communication platforms, organizations can bridge the gap between their intended communication goals and employees’ understanding, ultimately fostering a more connected and productive workforce.