“Internal communication is experiencing a renaissance period.”
He's right – Internal communication (IC) is enjoying a rebirth, and it's only a matter of time before it catches up to its external comms cousins.
In the past, internal comms didn't get enough credit for helping businesses achieve results. The impact of IC efforts was hard to trace, while public relations’ results were carefully measured and proven.
That said, the pandemic highlighted the importance of internal communications. And many internal communicators are now getting a seat at the decision-making table.
During the pandemic, internal comms rose as the conscience of organizations. IC helped leaders navigate challenging issues such as lay-offs, furloughs, and health and safety.
All eyes will be on internal comms in 2022 and beyond as new trends emerge. With more digital tools at our disposal than ever before, internal communicators have a wealth of options to reach and engage employees.
As the dust settles in a post-pandemic world of work, we discuss five internal communication trends you should know to improve internal comms at your company.
Internal communication trends overview
- Listening is the new talking
- Focus on employee-generated content (everyone is an internal communicator)
- Choosing mobile-first communication
- More visual, conversational, and authentic content
- Focus on employee wellbeing and mental health
1. Listening is the new talking
Companies have traditionally focused on communicating matters to employees, much less on communicating with them. But employees want to have a say. And more importantly, they want to be heard.
Two-way communication is like a tennis match. When you serve the ball, the player on the other end should return it — else, there’s no game.
That back and forth rally between two players is what enables the game to go on, and it’s also what keeps it interesting. Playing alone in an open court and expecting the audience to be engaged is unrealistic.
Workplace communication functions the same way. Talking at your staff instead of talking to them causes employee apathy and lack of motivation. That will eventually reflect in their overall engagement and job performance.
Top-down communication doesn’t cut it anymore. For effective internal communication, you must give your employees a voice.
Engaged, motivated, and productive employees are those who feel their voice is heard. Achievers reports that 58% of employees wish their company did employee engagement surveys more often.
Microsoft is a good example. It surveys over 2,500 employees every day and makes sure each employee has their say once per quarter.
This data helps the head of People Analytics (Dawn Klinghoffer) immediately see stress, burnout, and work-life balance issues. The company is continuously redesigning work practices from this survey data.
So as you practice top-down feedback, encourage upward feedback by:
- Training your managers to listen to your employees
- Showing gratitude for your staff’s input
- Approaching conversations as a team member, rather than a boss
- Acting on the feedback your employees give you
2. Focus on employee-generated content (everyone is an internal communicator)
Creating internal communications content often falls to the marketing and communications teams. While there's a place for that, internal communications professionals are increasingly becoming curators of employee-generated content (EGC) rather than creators.
EGC is a type of user-generated content (UGC) that covers almost anything — videos, pictures, blogs, stories — as long as employees create it.
When an employee shares their story, the rest of the team feels part of a community, building trust and a positive internal culture.
PwC shares that 66% of C-suite and board members say that culture is more important to performance than a company's strategy or operating model.
So once you have your staff’s content creation suggestions, it’s important to act on them. That will enhance your employees’ experience and build a positive company culture.
Your staff will know that it makes a difference when they raise their voice.
You can use employee-generated content in your marketing strategy, too. Share success stories of your employees on your website and social media channels to show warm and open company culture.
It will build brand awareness and show that you care.
Your employees' stories can significantly impact your organization's sense of belonging and togetherness. And technology such as Blink puts storytelling tools in your employees’ hands.
3. Choosing mobile-first communication
If you could get more staff to engage with your brand right now, would you do it?
Or would you hold off for two years as you wait for a new intranet release?
IBM shares that 72% of employees don’t fully understand their companies’ strategies. That's because their companies are slow to adopt mobile collaboration tools that suit their needs.
But internal comms trends show that many businesses are moving to mobile-first communication with dedicated communication apps.
Companies are adopting mobile employee apps like Blink to keep frontline workers more engaged and informed without interrupting workflow.
Blink can help you:
- Boost productivity
- Build collaboration
- Lift engagement
McCrindle shares that Gen Z is the largest generation representing nearly 30% of the world’s population. And by 2025, Gen Z will account for roughly 27% of the workforce.
So the younger generation will be the most dominant in the workplace. And because they're tech-savvy and mobile-driven, many companies are taking a fundamental shift in their internal communication strategies.
“One of the biggest takeaways was the need to provide online tools to help improve access to information. This generation is no stranger to technology, and they’re looking for platforms and apps to see their health records, manage costs and easily shop around for different types of care.”
You can communicate with your employees in a fast and engaging way by signing up for your own mobile-first communication app.
4. More visual, conversational, and authentic content
What do TikTok and internal communications have in common?
Your first thought may be: nothing!
But both are about storytelling. And that's where internal comms can learn something from the popular social media platform.
TikTok has changed the way people create content and tell stories, especially for younger generations. It's pushing the trend to communicate quickly while delivering personal messages.
Your employees are more likely to engage with visual communication than just text. TechSmith shares that 83% of people prefer watching videos to reading or listening to instructional content. It's worth considering as part of your internal communications strategy.
So make your content fun and engaging. You can:
- Use more leadership videos for company-wide messages
- Share infographics if communication is more complex
- Upload images to identify a maintenance repair request
You don’t have to reserve a budget for high-production videos. With the quality of today's smartphones, anyone can access the content via a high-quality and low-cost communication tool.
5. Focus on employee wellbeing and mental health
Let’s face it — we spend most of our waking hours at work.
And a McKinsey & Co. survey found that 35% of men and 42% of women reported feeling burned out almost always in 2021, compared to 28% of men and 32% of women in 2020.
Employee wellbeing has always been on companies’ agendas, but it’s been rather low on the list.
IBM reports that while 80% of executives said their companies supported their employees' physical and emotional health, only 46% of employees agreed.
The takeaway? We need to do better.
Caring communication will be vital in keeping your employees healthy and motivated. For example, give your staff real-time updates and notifications about the pandemic and any other topic that can affect them.
Keep it transparent and honest. Your employees will value it and feel safe in your company.
Remote work will also continue being the new normal, so make sure you use your internal comms platform to fight anxiety, solitude, and uncertainty.
Final thoughts: 5 internal communication trends to follow in 2022
There's no doubt that these internal communication trends will be crucial for every company going forward, especially for businesses that want to retain their frontline workers.
That’s why it’s time to re-evaluate your internal communications strategies.
Your brand channels aren’t just for company policies and work updates anymore. With internal communications platforms, your employees can truly connect and interact in a digital workplace.
You can also use internal communication channels to share information your frontline workers need to do their best job.
It will also be easier to spread important messages around training, mental health, and scheduling.
Blink is an easy-to-use internal communication app that helps your frontline workers connect and stay updated.
Sign up for a free trial today.