As technology continues to evolve, so does the workplace. Internal communications have evolved to fit the needs of companies and their workforces, as more employees work remotely, mobile communication has grown in popularity, and other similar trends have emerged. In order to adapt to such shifts, organizations should assess the available communication tools available to them and leverage the best of today’s technology to connect an increasingly dispersed workforce. These are some trends that currently drive the future of internal communications.
An Increasingly Remote Workforce
Trends that characterize the workforce at a broader level include the rise of the non-desk worker. Specific industries such as hospitality and manufacturing have a largely remote workforce, but now, even companies predominantly comprised of knowledge workers are increasingly dispersed. These dispersed workforces include gig economy workers, remote employees, and more.
Facing such trends, organizations encounter greater challenges when it comes to communicating with and engaging their employees. Companies worldwide recognize this themselves. According to research compiled by Deloitte in 2017, 80 percent of survey respondents said that culture and engagement should be a top priority for corporations in order for them to respond the needs of their employees. Companies are more interested in improving employee experience, in part because of the increased mobility of today’s workforce.
A Greater Need for Employee Engagement Technology
This greater prioritization of employee experience reveals a greater need for employee engagement tech. Email, which has long been the primary form of communication within corporations, is no longer as viable for internal communication. Not all employees have corporate email addresses. Even if they do, employers have no way of knowing whether their employees read the emails they receive. What’s more, non-desk workers who work on factory floors or are otherwise mobile can’t check their emails frequently. However, instant communication is crucial in times of crisis and other time-sensitive situations.
Businesses need employee engagement tech to keep their dispersed workforces connected, and they also need tools to gauge and improve engagement. As companies become more interested in upgrading the employee experience, they also rely more on analytics functionality that tells them which employees are using the internal communication tool to stay informed and engaged. Some tools even allow managers to follow up with employees who haven’t opened important messages.
Internal Communications as Internal Branding
According to a Gallup poll, only 27 percent of U.S. employees believe in their company’s values. This statistic underwhelms because employees should be the best champion of organizations’ brands and values: if not, they won’t be able to represent the company brand to customers and deliver quality service that aligns with the organization’s values.
Given this trend, organizations should rethink internal communications as more than just corporate newsletters and email updates. Corporate communications should be thought in terms of internal branding or marketing, and prioritized as much as external communications. While internal communication does not seem to have a direct impact on customer relations, the quality of service that employees deliver certainly does have such an impact.
Companies should promote their values not merely to potential clients, but to their own employees. Once they increase their employees’ emotional investment in the work they do, organizations will be able to reflect their values in their workforce as brand advocates. Internal communication is a branding and marketing opportunity, and corporate management should recognize employees who reflect their core values so the whole organization can band together to deliver on their brand promise.
Decentralization and Flattening
The shift away from traditional means of communication such as emails and bulletin boards has given rise to new forms of communication with features evocative of social media platforms: mentions, newsfeeds, and more. This change in communication style results in a decentralization and flattening across corporate communications.
Whereas company decisions were once made via extensive email threads, formal meetings, and conference calls, they are now determined within more collaborative settings and channels of communication. Furthermore, as workforces get more connected through engagement and communication platforms, more decisions get made lower in the organization.
Sharing Best Practices
Communication platforms are also being used for resource sharing, from important documents to videos. Some organizations have used this to share best practices among their teams by asking sales reps to submit videos of themselves responding to common objections. Managers then choose the best videos to share as examples with the rest of the team. More generally, employees can share various insights and any other resources in order to bring out the best in each other and the company as a whole.
As communication platforms have become more powerful, businesses can make internal communication more relevant to their employees and avoid information overload with targeted content. They can use personalized communication plans and send tailored information to specific departments or other groups of employees. For this to happen, organizations should have a system that segments employee data, or have a communications platform where users can be categorized.
The future of internal communications is clearly mobile. As workforces have become more dispersed, companies need to keep their employees more engaged than ever. Thankfully, technological advances and powerful communication platforms can help organizations accomplish this. From user analytics to targeted content, the best communication tools today have features that help organizations revamp their corporate communications system and connect their employees.
Flavio Pfaffhauser is the Co-Founder and CTO of Beekeeper. Before founding Beekeeper, Flavio worked as a Software Engineer for startups in Switzerland and India.