2020 has been a year like no other – challenging yet transformational for the world of internal communications. In all the interviews I have done on internal communications this year, the impact of the pandemic is voiced repeatedly by practitioners and seasoned experts alike. From the agility displayed by internal communicators during the crisis to how culture is now differently understood; from the ubiquitous online meetings to the shift in employee experience – the value and influence of the function is now more pronounced. In this post, I share perspectives on internal communications in a post COVID-19 world, the potential opportunities for internal communicators and probable interventions that can shape the future of the function.
· Transparency and trust will reshape culture: Open organizations will benefit immensely with improved employee engagement, creating a sense of belonging, increased leader trust, better customer satisfaction and enhanced well-being. Internal communications played a key role in reinforcing the organization’s social conscience. Virtual team meetings and briefings were the top two approaches for leaders to engage with staff during the pandemic.
· Convergence of Hi-tech and Hi-touch: The need for contact-less engagement will increase opportunities to identify better and more ways of accessing employees beyond the traditional ‘workplace’ and ‘work’ settings. Employees crave information more than ever and prefer it in ways that matter to them. Newer approaches to team, partner and engage will fuel more AI linked strategies. Organizations have used AI-enabled pulse surveys to gauge employee sentiments, an opportunity for internal communicators.
· Expectations on health and ethics messaging: There will be more awareness about health-related topics and issues with communicators expected to learn and get familiar with the nuances of risk communications. More importantly, the ability to make information simpler, readable and accessible will be appreciated. Likewise, ethics in communications will see greater partnership with legal entities. The scope of who the ‘internal’ audience is will expand with ‘families and partners’ getting into the ambit of internal communications. For example, how and in what way do crowdsourced content be included as ‘official’ records will be a debatable subject. During the pandemic, communicating with families, partners and gig workers to create awareness, recognize the support of staff and demonstrate empathy has increased. Lots of leaders have communicated directly with their staff’s families, creating better engagement.
· Listening and involving more: With significant shifts in mindsets, tastes and cultures – organizations will need to listen intently and involve staff when key personnel and business decisions and interventions are done. From decisions to attend meetings ‘phyrtually’ (in-person or virtual) to garnering user-generated content, the need to take employees along the brand journey will gain strength. Brands which are tone-deaf will lose trust swiftly. Employees seek purpose-led interventions and organizations’ actions are closely watched.
· Increased partnership with marketing and human resources. With a significant focus on employee well-being and health, there will be a continued need for human resources to keep employees engaged and informed on the choices they have and the resources the organization provides. Likewise, investing in recognition is crucial when staff are working remotely. The need for hyper-relevant recognition programs will mean greater investment in internal communications and platforms. Employees at organizations which took a stand on social issues were inclined to go over and above more than in organizations which didn’t. Organizations and leaders will need coaching on how to identify social issues and take a stand, rather than be bystanders.
As employees expect more, assert their rights and gain a stronger grip on how organizations and businesses must exist and operate, the need for internal communicators to stay abreast of these evolving times will be critical. Increased employee activism, employees as influencers and personal brands will become more relevant. Understanding human psyche and neuroscience will come in handy for internal communicators as they navigate exciting yet tumultuous times ahead.
What do you think? How will 2021 look like for internal communications? Interested in your views. Share them here.
Look up more such articles on my blog www.aniisu.com and watch video interviews on internal communications on my You Tube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/Aniisu
Here’s wishing you a wonderful New Year!
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