Top Insights Shaping Internal Comms Today, Tomorrow, and Beyond
— April 18th, 2023
Internal communication is an ever-evolving landscape, and that evolution will continue throughout 2023.
This year’s State of the Sector report from Gallagher reveals the latest waves and priorities shaping the world of internal communication, sheds light on areas that could use improvement, and dives into four key areas that all organizations need to focus on in 2023 and beyond: Personalization and segmentation, channel strategy, measurement, and investment in communications technology.
We explored these topics in a webinar with Chris Lee, VP of Employee Experience and Communication at Gallagher, and Heather Bicknell, Poppulo’s Senior Director of Product Marketing. To dive into the key topics from the webinar, you can check out the executive brief here, or read on here for a sneak peek.
The Future of Internal Comms: Implementing Insights from Gallagher’s State of the Sector 2023
The Purpose, Priorities, and Challenges of Internal Communications Today
Most organizations know the value of internal communication. But what do internal communication professionals themselves think is its true purpose? According to the survey, respondents believe that robust internal communications bring tangible benefits to organizations. Let the numbers talk:
- Culture and belonging: 74%
- Strategic alignment: 67%
- Organizational agility: 47%
The fact that culture and belonging lead the pack means that priorities for HR and IC are merging.
Seeing culture and belonging at the top of the list suggests that the priorities for HR and IC teams are converging, despite only 22% of IC teams reporting into HR." –Heather Bicknell, Product Marketing Director at Poppulo
The report also revealed several internal communication priorities that organizations value most. They include:
- Engaging teams around purpose, strategy, and value: 51%
- Developing and refreshing the IC strategy: 35%
- Enhancing people-manager communication: 32%
Purpose took the lion’s share in the above list. According to Chris, the rise of Zoom calls in the past few years has highlighted the need to prioritize communication purpose, strategy, and value. "This has impacted organizations' abilities to keep people engaged and connected to their purpose," said Chris Lee.
Several challenges will continue to influence companies’ internal communication efforts in 2023. The survey revealed the following roadblocks to effective IC:
- Lack of time and team capacity: 34%
- Disengaged employees: 30%
- Poor analytics and measurements: 22%
- Internal tech and channels don’t fit the purpose: 22%
There’s an interconnection among these bottlenecks, which means solving at least one challenge may contribute to ironing out other issues.
The Rise of Personalization and Segmentation
Personalization and segmentations are some of the driving forces behind the evolution of modern IC. Gallagher found that organizations have employed several ways to achieve personalization and segmentation, including addressing employees by name, sending comms and specific stages of employees’ lives, and enabling employees to pick content they receive and channels they use.
These tricks help close the gap between a consumer-grade experience and the modern employee experience. They boost employee engagement, customer experience, and the overall brand.
Digital technology helps organizations improve their personalization game and enhance hyper-personalization. In fact, 55% of organizations believe the next five years will see hyper-personalization impacting the world of IC. However, only 11% of the respondents had well-defined personas.
Heather Bicknell states, "Understanding your audiences is key to building the right channel strategy. In particular, it’s key to know what to personalize and what content to have in place to make the right impact."
Some of her other personalization recommendations that drive engagement are:
- Develop employee personas to show that you understand the audience
- Segment the audience and customize communications to be relevant to the recipient
- Measure your comm’s impact to understand its reach, comprehension, behavior change, and satisfaction
Blending the Right Channel Mix
Technological advancement has thrown a plethora of modern technologies and devices into the communication arena. You must play your cards like a pro when disseminating information via various channels—from email to mobile applications and intranets to physical meetings and town halls.
Most organizations are still adjusting their channel mix to be fit for hybrid work. The survey found that:
- More than 1/3 of the respondents were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their current mix of channels
- Only 31% have implemented a channel framework
- Only 33% have a channel-specific editorial calendar
Communicators need to understand each channel’s role in their organization. Is it fit to target a specific audience, deliver a particular type of content, or communicate around a specific theme?
Organizations need to put in the time and resources to understand where you’re at with your channels, and where there may be opportunities to improve the experience for employees."—Chris Lee, VP of Employee Experience & Communication at Gallagher
So, what should you do to turn things around? Here are the top recommendations:
- Leverage an all-in-one platform from where you manage every channel
- Implement a clear purpose and content strategy for each channel
- Review channels regularly and pinpoint opportunities to deliver more personalized, relevant, and visual content
Measurement and its Benefits
You can’t improve what you haven’t measured. Measuring your IC efforts gives in-depth insights into what works and doesn’t. It also helps you make a business case for future investment. According to the research, only 63% of organizations today measure reach and employee understanding, meaning that more than 1/3 of organizations don’t measure their success in ensuring their workforce gets and understands the shared content.
So, why is it hard to measure internal communication efforts? The survey noticed several players here, including a lack of time and resources, data, analysis tools, and comms objectives.
Data from measuring internal communication offers great insights to improve your game. The study revealed that organizations are using the data for various reasons:
- Show evidence of value or ROI to leaders: 52%
- Tailor content for a different audience: 42%
- Refine channel framework: 41%
The findings once again cement the importance of hyper-personalization, segmentation, and the development of audience personas to skyrocket engagement.
It’s not always easy to think about comms ROI as a dollar value. Instead, develop a dashboard of specific metrics that are important to your organization, like engagement, turnover, absenteeism, productivity, and morale, and use those as a proxy for some of the ways that communications can provide value." –Chris Lee, VP of Employee Experience & Communication at Gallagher
Here are some of the recommendations regarding measuring IC efforts and practices:
- Determine the metrics that matter most, such as engagement rates, open rates, page visits
- Employ a platform with multichannel analytics for an in-depth insight into your channels’ performance
- Use data insights to tailor your messaging for different audiences
Investment in Communication Technology
Investing in communications technology is a game-changer in personalization, channel mix, and measurement. However, 46% of organizations don't invest enough in comm technology. Additionally, only 63% of communicators interviewed said they were satisfied with their channels.
Is your organization injecting the right amount of money into your communication technology stack? Respondents’ answers were as follows:
- Too high: 3%
- About right: 42%
- Too low: 46%
- Not sure: 9%
Heather believes that the "too high" organizations lack an organization-wide approach to acquiring new technology. As such, the various departments may be provisioning their own comms tools, reducing investment value.
So, when investing in communications technology:
- Develop a company-wide strategy for purchasing and implementing new technology for the successful adoption
- Link your investment to overarching organizational goals, boosting chances of stakeholder buy-in
- Collect data around the success of new technology to prove the value of your investment
Supercharge your Internal Communication with Poppulo
Do you want to bridge broken communication gaps and connect your people to achieve more significant results? Are you trying to get the right solution amidst communication technologies screaming for your attention? We strive to ensure your messages and content reach the target audience in a personalized and measurable way. Contact us today to create harmony and silence the noise.