March 2021

Wonder what’s happening in the Internal Comms space right now?

Picture this: thousands of Internal comms leaders working at home, in their own silo, for yet another month. Networking events feel like a distant memory and the outside world is increasingly hazy. Sound familiar? If yes, pour yourself a coffee and let me share with you some key trends we’re seeing right now.

Firstly, of the 17 most pressing communications challenges identified by Comms leaders we surveyed, over half sit squarely in the Internal Comms remit. These include: Employee change fatigue; Audience information overload; Ensuring a consistent employee experience; Adapting to remote/ partly remote workforce; and Variable/ poor manager comms skills

What’s interesting though, is that these are not challenges suddenly incurred due to COVID, but ongoing challenges we’ve been struggling with for some time. Change Fatigue has been #1 for the past 4 years, whilst audience information overload has been in the top 3 for the past 5 years. This begs the question then: how do we strike the right balance of what to share with whom to drive behavioral change we need, without bombarding our audiences?

We also researched how confident our comms leaders feel at solving these challenges. Worryingly, just 2% of leaders feel confident in solving change fatigue, and a mere 3% feel they know how to solve audience information overload. Only 4% feel able to resolve Manager comms skills, and barely 7% have figured out Leader comms skills.

So let’s start with change fatigue. 70% of employees we surveyed had experienced an increase in change within the previous 12 months -with an average 39 changes per year! What’s more worrying is that we surveyed these employees last February, before the pandemic really hit, so imagine what that % would be now! Geopolitical changes; major shifts to organizational priorities; operational transformations; and changes to cultural norms (e.g. remote/ hybrid work)…I’m sure you and your employees could identify with most or all of those, right?

Many organizations struggle to coordinate their comms on a good day -let alone during change – and tend to overwhelm audiences with too much information that’s nice to have or simply not targeted. The pandemic has exacerbated this even more, given nonstop comms about health & safety, changes to working environment, updates to strategy, and keeping remote employees engaged. So it’s not surprising then ‘information overload’ continues to be a thorn in our side.

Many other challenges cited by Comms Leaders fall into ‘culture’. With most employees working remotely, many are unsure how to provide that consistent experience. This is more acute for those with a hybrid workforce, with white-collar at home and blue collar on site to keep the wheels moving. And now that so many employees are simply ‘zoomed out’, Comms leaders must start to think innovatively about ways to bring employees together, in a way that suits their culture.

The final trend we’re seeing is employee activism. We’re seeing employees increasingly become more vocal and publicly passionate about matters such as DEI, CSR, sustainability, political issues, and health & safety. Many organizations have felt pressure internally by their employees to take a stand on such issues, both within the company, as well as externally. And increasingly, employees are demanding their company changes policies and culture to provide a fairer working environment that reflects the views of the mass.

So, do these challenges sound familiar to you? Are you also grappling with how to tackle these? Please get in touch if so -we’d love to share how organizations are approaching these challenges and help you solve yours.

 

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