Adapting to fast-changing markets is no longer an option for companies. They have to rethink their employee communication and embrace digital technologies to stay ahead of the competition.
What does growing a business in an ever-changing world mean?
Basically, it means that you need your employees to have a deep understanding of your business goals, stay on top of industry trends, and come up with cutting-edge strategies that will take your product to the next level.
💡Download our free eBook "Building a Better Company with Internal Communications" where we share tips and best practices for improving internal communications and employee productivity in the workplace.
In short, you need to help your employees adapt to the ever-changing business world we’re living in and to do so, you’ll have to provide them with the right communication technologies.
How Does Employee Communication Impact Your Business Success?
Wait a Minute — What Is Employee Communication?
Essentially, employee communication involves the exchange of information, ideas, and feedback with and among employees to achieve the business goals originally set.
Employee communication is critical to your business success. It's the glue that holds your business together. However, most businesses don't have a long-term plan for their IC strategies. Ouch!
Think about it: having an effective communication strategy in place helps you improve collaboration in the workplace, employee productivity, and employee engagement. It's also a great way to motivate your employees and enhance innovation in the workplace!
That's not surprising that improving communication in the workplace is a top priority for most of the businesses!
Improving communication in the workplace is one of the top priority in most organizations
What's more, employee communication is crucial when it comes to building a strong company culture. The way you communicate the company's values, vision and strategy will have a direct impact on how your employees feel about the company.
Employee Communication Plays a Critical Role in Times of Change and Crisis
Employee communication in change management
Employee communication also plays a critical role in change management.
When your company is undergoing change that involves restructuring such as a merger or an acquisition, you need to explain to your employees the implications this change will have on the business and on their jobs as well.
Your employees will have lots of questions and you can't afford not to have the answers to their questions. Communication is the key to maintaining continuous productivity and building trust with your employees during a merger or an acquisition.
Employee communication in times of crisis
The way you communicate with your employees will have a direct impact on how fast and well the organization recovers from a crisis.
Basically, if employee communication is not well handed during a crisis, the company may have to deal with five main issues:
- Employees may get confused and worried because of a lack of information.
- Productivity starts to slow down because employees are distracted and trying to find the information they need by themselves.
- Trust in the brand may decrease. Because of the lack of information, employees get frustrated and may feel that top management and managers don't trust them. During a crisis, silence is the #1 mistake you should absolutely avoid!
- Because employees are not well-informed, they may spread misinformation outside the company without knowing it. This is how misinformation may turn into rumors or a scandal.
- Employees may start to look for another job because they don't feel secure at the company anymore.
Employee Communication Is the Key to Ensuring that Your Employees Are Aligned with Your Business Goals
You may have a great business plan, but if your employees are not informed or aware of what's going on in the company, they won’t be able to adapt to this fast-changing business environment.
By sharing the right information with the right employees at the right time, you make sure that everyone is aligned with your business goals and vision.
Also, you help your employees increase their productivity and work with their teammates in an effective way all while supporting their thought leadership.
Why Are Businesses Struggling with Employee Communication?
Businesses know that effective employee communication is critical to their success.
Yet, the current state of employee communication is quite alarming:
- 60% of companies don't have a long-term strategy for their internal communications
- Only 13% of employees use their intranets on a daily basis
- 74% of employees have the feeling they are missing out on company news
- 72% of employees don't have a full understanding of the company's strategy
- Employee productivity increases by 20 to 25% in organizations where employees are connected
- Only 23% of executives say that their companies are excellent at aligning employees’ goals with corporate purposes
- Only 40% of IC professionals believe that employees understand “well” or “very well” the contribution they’re making to their organization’s strategy
- 62% of the emails received by employees are not important
- Employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than read text.
- Organizations with effective change and communication programs are 3.5 times more likely to outperform their peers
- 28% of leaders report poor communication as the primary cause of failing to deliver a project within its original time frame
- Only 17% of employers think line managers are good communicators
The thing is, building great employee communication doesn't come easy.
Indeed, employees' needs and expectations are changing, business environments are becoming more complex and unstable, and the war for talent is quite tough!
Communicators need to adapt their IC strategy to the employees' new needs (remember, employees spend 2.5 hours on average looking for the information they need to do their job).
💡Tip: Networking with IC and HR experts is a great way to share employee communication best practices and discover new trends! You may want to take a look at our post "Top Internal Communications Events to Attend in 2020" where we've listed some of the best IC conferences and summits happening this year!
Transforming Employee Communication Is a Though Job
To get a better understanding of why most organizations are struggling with employee communication, the Chicago Booth Review has organized a panel discussion where Hal Weitzman sits down with Chicago Booth faculty Ayelet Fishbach, Nicholas Epley, and Heather M. Caruso to share their thoughts on the current state of communication in the workplace.
Take a look at their discussion below 👇
The current state of employee communication
Now, the question is: how does the employee communication landscape may look like in the near future?
We’ve compiled 5 employee communication predictions for 2020 and beyond:
5 Employee Communication Predictions that Will Reshape the Workplace in 2020 and Beyond
1. Instant Information Is the Future of Employee Communication
The way we communicate has changed: we expect information to find us immediately rather than having to spend time looking for it.
How many times have you felt frustrated because you couldn’t find the information you were looking for right away (you had to browse several websites to find the stats or product reviews you were looking for), or because web pages you wanted to browse took too long to load?
We are living in a fast-changing world and not surprisingly, we are getting impatient when it comes to finding the information we need.
The same goes with internal communication in the workplace: employees don’t want to and can’t afford to spend time searching for the information they need.
34% of employees are currently dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied with communications they’re experiencing at their workplace.
And it’s pretty easy to understand why they're feeling frustrated: employees spend on average 2.5 hours a day searching for the information they need.
The time wasted looking for information has a tremendous domino effect: not only do employees get frustrated, but they also have a lower productivity and feel disconnected to the business.
At the end of the day, if you’re not able to provide your employees with the information they need at the right time, you may end up with lower employee engagement.
The infographic bellow shows the importance of having an effective internal communication in place when it comes to employee engagement:
To avoid employee frustration and disengagement in the workplace, many businesses are shifting their internal communication towards instant employee communication.
2. Adequate Content Distribution
Internal communications and external communications are usually perceived as two distinctive worlds.
In most businesses, HR and communication teams create materials for their employees such as newsletters, onboarding materials or surveys while marketing teams produce educational and engaging content such as videos, infographics, success stories, quizzes or eBooks to reach their target audience and increase brand awareness.
Many internal communication professionals have realized that this distinction between internal and external communications is not the best approach to keep employees engaged.
Instead of excluding marketing materials from the content they share with employees, they are merging internal and external communications.
In other words, they don’t build their content distribution based on their audiences (internal vs external stakeholders). Instead, they have a global, holistic approach where they distribute content based on their audiences’ needs.
As a consequence, they may share across the organization marketing materials that are informative, helpful, and most importantly relevant for employees, even though this content was created for external audiences in the first place.
In a nutshell, what matters is not to spread content across the organization – but to share the right information with your employees.
3. Mobile-First Employee Communication
Millennials represent 50% of the workforce worldwide and they are projected to represent 75% of the workforce by 2025.
As we all know, millennials are tech-savvy and mobile-oriented. So, if you want them to engage with the content you share with them, you’ll need to adapt your internal communication to their news consumption habits.
In short, you’ll need to turn your internal communication into mobile-first employee communication!
For example, check out in this video how Smarp helps employees keeping up with the company news and sharing industry news with their colleagues.
Sending emails across the organization, using an Intranet that is not mobile-friendly, or hosting meetings where 73% of attendees are not paying attention or doing other work is not the best way to get your message through to your employees!
To improve employee communication, more and more businesses are launching communication apps where employees can find the latest company news and the materials they need in their news feed.
That way, they can communicate with their employees in a fast and engaging way!
4. Tailored Employee Communication
Sharing instant information with employees doesn’t mean sending them hundreds of notifications a day!
Did you know that nowadays, employees open only 24% of emails they receive?
The thing is, most employees feel that they’re dealing with too much information and information overload has negative impacts on their ability to focus on a task.
Instead of pushing standardized (and sometimes) irrelevant messages, make sure you share the right content with your employees. After all, employee communication is all about supporting employees in their jobs and inspiring them!
At the end of the day, it’s your employees’ well-being and productivity that may suffer from information overload.
But thankfully, internal communication and HR professionals have acknowledged the drawbacks of information overload in the workplace and they are launching communication apps that allow them to tailor content each employee receives based on their needs.
That way, employees don’t feel overwhelmed with too much or irrelevant information.
Simply put, each employee receives in their news feed any content that is relevant to their role in the company, their expertise, the language(s) they speak, their location and so on.
That way, employees are up-to-date with their company news and have access to the right information, even in large organizations or companies with branch offices in several countries.
At the end of the day, it's a win-win situation: your employees are well-informed and enjoy a great employee experience. At the same time, they are able to do their job effectively all while feeling more connected and engaged.
5. The Shift Towards Visual Storytelling
Welcome to the new world! The old days where you used to share company news through your Intranet or weekly newsletter that no one would read are over!
Your employees are not that much interested in reading long emails or detailed activity reports (yes, long reports can be boring!).
Think about it: why do people browse their social media feeds several times a day?
The answer is pretty simple: they’re looking for entertainment! What’s more, content that drives the most engagement on social media includes videos, infographics and pictures.
So, if you want your employees to interact with your content, make it fun and engaging!
And to do so, you’ll need to tell stories and to include visuals in the materials you share with your employees.
With visual storytelling, not only do your employees read your content, they also interact with it more often.
The shift towards visual storytelling has already started: more and more businesses are sharing infographics, videos, interactive newsletter and quizzes with their employees!
Employee Communication Becomes a Top Priority for Most Businesses in 2020
The exchange of information in the workplace has a direct impact on employees' productivity, motivation and well-being.
A recent employee culture survey by Gartner finds that employees who are moderately stressed underperform those who aren’t by 5% — reducing a $1 billion top line by $32.5 million at an average company. That's a lot!
Simply put, you won't be able to attract and retain top talent if you overlook communication at your workplace. That's why more and more businesses are prioritizing employee communication and encouraging their leaders to develop top communication skills.
What are the most in-demand communication skills in the workplace?
According to Gartner, communication leaders are going to focus on:
- Strategic planning and IC measurement. Basically, you can't effectively change/improve your internal comms if you don't measure it or collect feedback from your employees.
- Content strategy and message management — are the messages shared with employees clear enough, are they the right ones?
- Employee engagement and alignment with the company's vision. If you want to build a successful business, you have to make sure that everyone is on board and understand the company's vision, strategic plan and objectives!
What's next? Download our eBook "Skillset Map of a Modern IC Department" and learn about the most in-demand skills for modern communication practitioners 👇