Is the leadership team poised to become the most influential communicators in the corporate world? Should silence in internal communication be considered a virtue? How important is it for communication to utilise multiple channels? In this article, let's examine these and other internal communications trends for 2023.
What is the primary cause of transformation process failure? Sadly, in the majority of cases, the issue is poor communication. However, presenting change effectively and gaining everyone's support is more critical than ever from a business perspective. Internal communication is crucial in this situation. Everyone can be ultimately persuaded of the value brought by transformations only when the reasons and goals for change are made clear from the outset. What does this have to do with trends in internal communication?
Preferably to meet the increased transformation processes and to bring everyone along the sometimes thorny path of change, the internal communication of today must constantly evolve and improve.
To accommodate these lofty expectations, we have researched and contemplated the aspects of internal communications that will be most crucial in 2023. Here are the seven most exciting trends in internal communication.
1. Communication is becoming a top priority for CEOs, and they are increasingly playing a pivotal role in its implementation.
According to Edelman's most recent Future of Corporate Communications Report, top executives and board members now place a much higher value on effective communication. Therefore, it is time to increase the involvement of these executives in public relations. CEOs are becoming more visible on social media and sending explicit messages on sites like LinkedIn. What lessons can internal communications take away from this? And how does it assist chief executive officers in coordinating similar efforts for internal communications?
Communication strategies for chief executives
Getting CEOs to increase their public profile is often the biggest challenge.
One common argument against it is that CEOs don't have the time. While others seem ill-suited to the camera, some thrive under the spotlight. CEOs can now avoid playing a more active role in communication, especially in transformation processes. More than ever before, CEOs need to be visible to explain the rationale, context, and outcomes of necessary change. They are the only ones who can play that part, which is essential to the venture's success.
The question then becomes, what can you, as an internal communicator, do to facilitate this?
The chief executive officer's (CEO's) messages should centre on topics that advance the company's overall goals.
Create unique but valuable content formats. Then be regular with your updates and follow through.
Always keep the CEO's character in mind when developing formats and concepts.
Some people learn best in large group settings with lots of time for questions and answers, while others thrive in more intimate environments with more time for focused discussion.
Help out where you can with the format rollout, and pick the tools to help your CEO shine the brightest.
Manage the community and coordinate answers to questions using tools like ghostwriting if necessary. The most crucial result is a workforce that feels respected and valued.
Consider cultural differences when deciding on formats, primarily if you work for a global company. The concept of superiority may be interpreted otherwise in other cultures.
CEOs should use a personal tone to connect with their employees and even show some emotion in their messages.
There's no getting around that CEOs should be among the most crucial (if not the main) communicators in their organisations. They set an example for better leadership communication across the entire organisation by communicating honestly and personally, which benefits the company as a whole.
2. Communication is becoming more instantaneous and individual than ever before
What is the relationship between internal communications and TikTok?
Your initial thought may be, "nothing!" But both involve narratives. Internal communications can learn a thing or two from the popular platform in this regard.
Whether or not you are a fan of TikTok, the app has altered how content is created and stories are told, particularly among younger generations. It bolsters our tendency to communicate more quickly and deliver highly personalised messages. In TikTok's algorithm, the quality of the content is more important than the number of followers in determining reach.
A short video that can creatively and thoroughly explain a topic is currently more appealing to many than lengthy text. The classic news article accompanied by a static image on the intranet appears almost archaic.
What lessons can be learned for internal communications from this?
TikTok-style videos are only appropriate for some subjects. However, capturing employees' attention unorthodoxly in specific campaigns and critical strategic topics can be highly advantageous. Your ultimate objective is to convey your message and ensure that as many people as possible understand it.
Therefore, the lesson of this trend is to experiment with new formats! Please explain your new hybrid working policy through a short, engaging video instead of lengthy written text. Is a printed handout still the optimal format for onboarding and orienting new employees, particularly younger workers? Or, are there opportunities to incorporate digital designs, such as video clips, to illustrate crucial onboarding steps?
Why wouldn't you involve your employees in this endeavour, given that they frequently possess creative potential? Organise, for instance, a video challenge in which all employees can submit a video on a specific topic and use it to tell their own story. And win something. People love prizes! These videos can then be displayed on your intranet or employee app, bringing fame and glory to your workforce. You will give your staff a voice and a platform for their messages and encourage them to try out new formats by making your communication more immediate and personal than ever before. Authenticity is always prized, and that's about as genuine as it gets.
Attempting to reach your employees through a single channel has historically failed miserably. Therefore, why should it be your future strategy? Internal communication trends are moving toward meeting employees where they are. Not the opposite way around. This requires communicators to utilise various channels, including an employee app for frontline workers, an intranet for administrative employees, a communication channel on Microsoft Teams for project managers, screens in production halls for factory workers, and email newsletters for sales and management personnel. However, does this imply that communicators must individually manage multiple channels and platforms? Fortunately, the answer is significantly more straightforward.
The trend toward multichannel intranets provides communicators with a central location to plan, manage, and distribute their communications to various target audiences via the channels where they are most likely to be viewed. This practice also enables internal communication professionals to evaluate the success of their communications efforts in a centralised location.
Tendencies in internal communication make technology investment a top priority for 2023.
Despite the apparent benefits, obtaining budget approval for such technologies frequently requires considerable persuasion from the communications department. However, there is cause for optimism: 70% of communications executives view communications technology investment as a top priority for the coming year. Numerous recent mergers in the communications technology sector paint a similar picture for the vendors.
The multichannel strategy, also known as a "best-of-breed" strategy, enables businesses to select the technologies that best meet the needs of their employees. These technologies, including modern intranets centred on communication and culture building, are utilised solely for their strengths.
Advantages of this platform and technology strategy:
Employees receive news and information wherever they are. Not the other way around.
Reduced communication and increased relevance for all target groups.
It is possible to "push" communications to specific channels.
Offers a central location for creating and managing all messages and contacts.
Communication success is centrally measured.
4. Email remains a vital internal communication channel
Many have confidently predicted that email communication will cease to exist. That includes us as well. But we were mistaken. Employees continue to spend a significant amount of time in their email inboxes. Our guiding principle is to meet employees where they are (see multichannel strategy), and as such, email is and will continue to be an essential communication channel. So let's use it correctly.
Three essential email communication use cases in internal communication
We foresee three areas where an email will be crucial in the future without causing the dreaded email and information overload:
Important and urgent information, such as lengthy security updates or thorough crisis communication, should be sent via email. (However, use email for emergencies sparingly, or you risk being accused of crying wolf.) A primary emphasis is on curated summaries in internal newsletters with links to interactive channels such as the intranet and employee app. These should be sent regularly so that employees can anticipate them. (We recommend sending newsletters at a specific time at the end of the week or on Mondays.) Communication via email to particular target groups (executives, sales team, etc.), also in the form of a newsletter and sent occasionally or regularly. Here, the emphasis is on topics such as enablement or weekly or quarterly updates of significance.
5. Internal communication strategically employs internal influencers
Are you aware of your internal influencers? If yes, then why are they not a part of your communication strategy?
As in our personal lives, the topic of influencers has grown in importance in the business world. Workplace influencers have always existed. How can their influence be utilised appropriately? By denying influencers a space on your corporate platform, you risk them using alternative, possibly informal, communication channels to undermine your messages.
However, how do you involve internal influencers in your messaging? Your company's conditions, available platforms, and desired objectives will significantly impact your strategy's viability. There is no assurance that your company's internal influencers are also its brand ambassadors. However, you need an internal influencer strategy that is integrated and aligned with your communication strategy.
Practical strategies for utilising your internal influencers
Identify your internal influencers first. Who within your organisation fits the following descriptions?
Possesses a high level of intrinsic motivation, meaning they are highly committed and motivated without necessarily pursuing a specific objective.
They are entirely dedicated to their topic.
They have a robust network and represent a community.
Consider how you can collaborate with these individuals as you establish a rapport.
Above all, listen attentively and thoroughly comprehend the motivations of your coworkers.
If necessary, allow your influencers to communicate on your platform independently (if possible, directly in specific employee groups, topic forums, or dialogue formats).
Determine if the topics your internal influencers promote are strategically significant and pertinent to your organisation (e.g., women's advancement). If so, give these topics a platform and highlight them with the assistance of the influencer through the channels where they make the most sense.
Authenticity, relevance, and proper channels are crucial to a successful communication strategy
The trends discussed in this article should clarify: in 2023, internal communications must continue to be innovative and daring. However, as important as it is to be able to make adjustments on the fly, planning is more crucial than ever.
A communications strategy that aligns with your overarching corporate strategy and goals is essential for proactive internal communications. Importantly, you must be able to measure all communication efforts and their outcomes to monitor the progress of your objectives continually.
Therefore, for the year 2023, resolve to define your communications strategy and internal communications goals, with authenticity as a top priority. How can internal communications contribute to the organisation's overall objectives and initiatives? What are your most vital messages, and how can they be conveyed most effectively? how can you get every employee involved and on board, even as an increasing number of them work from outside the traditional office? It will require effort, but the resources are available to make it possible. You are a responsible internal communicator! You can do it!