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The New Work Ecosystem in 2024 | Can Internal Communicators Step Up?

Here’s wishing my readers a blessed New Year! This is Edition #101 of my newsletter. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

As the world of work continues its transformative journey in 2024 – embracing hybrid and gig working, navigating the complexities of multigenerational teams, and contending with the pervasive influence of AI – internal communicators find themselves at a pivotal juncture. The Gallup Workplace Guide emphasizes the urgency for a renewed focus, highlighting the imperative for internal communicators to move beyond mere information dissemination. The challenge now is to actively engage employees in the co-creation of communications that resonate with personal aspirations and organizational goals.

A Year of Hopes and Fears in the Workplace

Human optimism persists as we enter 2024. According to Ipsos’s global predictions, 53% of individuals believe that 2024 will bring improvement over the perceived challenges of 2023. However, a predominant concern centers around the impact of AI, with 97% acknowledging its potential for job losses, even though only 3% claim true understanding of this transformative technology. The KPMG CEO Outlook survey underlines the anticipation of a return to the office by 2026, particularly in regions with an aging workforce. Alongside these considerations, fears encompass the mimicry of human behavior by robots, reduced social media use for mental health reasons, and apprehensions about data security and increased gender parity.

The Future of Jobs Report 2023 by the World Economic Forum projects the evolution of a quarter of jobs by 2027, with AI contributing to a global net decrease in jobs—69 million created and 83 million eliminated. As nearly 80 countries, representing a population of 4 billion, head to the polls in 2024, it marks the largest global election cycle till 2048. Fears of polarization, conflict, and non-state actors disrupting elections are heightened, reflecting concerns that internal communicators must navigate. Taking a stand on political or social issues misaligned with customer values could lead to brand alienation, both within and outside the organization.

From ‘Where’ to ‘Why’ and ‘How’

The evolution of workspaces transcends physical confines, embracing hybrid models and diverse workforce preferences. Internal communicators must pivot their focus from the traditional ‘where’ of communication to the ‘why’ and ‘how.’ Ipsos’s global predictions underscore the importance of understanding employee sentiments and fears, inviting internal communicators to proactively address these concerns. Also, with trust in leadership at its lowest ebb (only 22% of US employees trusting their leaders), this shift is critical in shaping effective communication strategies that resonate with the evolving dynamics of the workplace.

Toxic Cultures and Employee Experiences

The challenges of the modern workplace extend beyond the technological landscape. In 2024, leaders recognize the critical role of employee experience, with 86% acknowledging its positive impact on organizational ROI. However, a glaring issue surfaces—no one truly ‘owns’ the employee experience, hampered by existing silos within companies. Toxic cultures emerge as a powerful force, eroding trust and engagement. Ten times more influential than compensation in predicting attrition during the initial six months, toxic cultures foster an environment where employees feel unwanted, unrecognized, and disrespected. Internal communicators must confront these cultural challenges head-on, recognizing their profound implications on employee well-being and organizational success.

Coping with Ongoing Change

Change remains a constant in the contemporary workplace, with employees grappling with an average of 10 planned organizational-wide changes in 2022. This continual state of flux contributes to a decline in support for change, plummeting from 74% in 2016 to a mere 43% in 2022. The burden of navigating change takes a toll on employees, underscoring the need for internal communicators to address this strain and provide support mechanisms. As organizational-wide changes become the norm, internal communicators must be architects of resilience. Workday’s Employee Voice study signals lower scores for transformation and change, emphasizing the urgent need for a deep understanding of navigating change in 2024. change, emphasizing the urgent need for a deep understanding of navigating change in 2024.

Navigating Employee Challenges

Internal communicators face a formidable challenge in addressing the core concerns of the workplace. According to a Qualtrics study, over a third (39%) of employees with less than six months’ tenure plan to leave within the next 12 months—a 6-point increase from the previous year. Frontline workers, in particular, express lower engagement levels and diminished trust in leaders compared to other groups. They also perceive a disparity in treatment, especially concerning pay and work processes. Gartner’s survey adds to the narrative, revealing that managers, facing a similar set of challenges as employees, lack the necessary support. Despite accounting for 70% variance in employees’ engagement levels, only 59% of HR leaders plan to increase investment in manager development programs in the next two years.

A Call for Science-Based Insights and Employee Empowerment

In 2024, internal communicators must evolve into strategic advisors armed with science-based insights. It’s not just about disseminating information; it’s about understanding how employees perceive the workplace, their challenges, aspirations, and the opportunities they envision. The focus should shift towards addressing core issues that concern staff and inspiring them to co-create solutions that work for everyone. Channels need a transformation, offering employees autonomy to choose the information they receive, the power to co-create solutions, and inclusivity for the diverse generations active in the workplace.

Shaping the Narrative for 2024 and Beyond

As we venture into 2024 and beyond, internal communicators find themselves holding the key to shaping the narrative of the evolving world of work. Beyond being mere messengers, they are architects of change, actively co-creating communications, fostering engagement, and championing a resilient culture. In this era of dynamic shifts in work, workplaces, and workforces, internal communicators play a pivotal role in creating a workplace where everyone thrives.

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Who am I?

I am Aniisu, an award-winning internal communications and change leader helping individuals and organizations discover and develop their ‘sweet-spot’ through effective communications. As a Linkedin Top Voice for Internal Communications & Personal Branding based in Sydney, Australia, I offer insights, perspectives and solutions at the intersection of these two evolving domains. I believe that organizations are an amalgamation of employees as ‘personal brands’ and when we include, involve and inspire staff as partners of change, together we can amplify our presence and advocacy.

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