Changes and advances in technology have completely transformed the way in which employees interact with the organizations they’re employed by. Instead of going into the office every day, most can get by with as little as a laptop, strong WiFi, and a consistent power source so they can charge up from time to time.
Therefore, companies need to rethink and continuously improve the way they communicate with their staffs, especially as face-to-face opportunities become more limited. In addition to physical barriers that can impede communication, there are new generational challenges too, especially as Gen Z begins entering the workforce more in the upcoming year. To address these hurdles, internal communications professionals should adopt a digital mindset and use the new tools available to them to deliver their messages more effectively.
Content better be mobile ready and multimedia in form
Recent research from SimilarWeb has shown that for the first time ever, mobile has overtaken desktop in how people access the internet. That said, it’s probably a safe bet that employees are also engaging with enterprise content through their mobile devices, making it necessary for businesses to publish and share information with a mobile-first approach in mind. So, rather than prohibiting personal devices, companies need to realize that mobile is part of the modern way of working, and internal communications professionals can take advantage of this direct access to staff to communicate with them more effectively. They can achieve this by catering to all the different ways employees prefer to receive communications, so while it will be important to have one mobile-friendly hub where all content, resources, solutions and tools can be accessed securely, critical messages will also need to appear in SMS as well as email form to ensure they are being received.
Not only will internal communications materials need to be mobile-ready, they will also need to take advantage of multimedia formats – especially to catch the attention of tech-savvy Gen Zers. These employees are adept at digesting information from online channels, so 2019 communications will be all about using the solutions available in today’s digital workplace to create messages that are dynamic, impactful and highly engaging to drive conversations between younger employees and senior management. Internal communications professionals should utilize social media-like business solutions, create video blogs and use communication and collaboration tools to make sure the information they’re trying to deliver gets heard and – more importantly – remembered by these young newcomers.
Will digital assistants lead internal comms in the next year?
When we think “digital,” artificial intelligence, machine learning and chatbots automatically come to mind, but internal communicators don’t necessarily need to be fully embracing these kinds of tools just yet. Even though excitement around chatbots has certainly reached a new high, I’d argue that this technology is a bit overhyped. And while some internal communications professionals may be eager to turn over the reins to digital assistants to alleviate their workloads, this technology still needs more time to mature, especially in terms of better understanding subtle linguistical nuances.
So, we should expect organizations to take advantage of this technology to some degree, but chatbots won’t be taking on advanced communications functions just yet. They can be useful in conveying simple facts, information and perhaps some company news. However, when it comes to matters that require a human touch, they simply won’t be able to do the same job as a thoughtful person. Another more immediate benefit of digital assistants is their ability to be available at all hours. So, when real humans aren’t reachable (such as holidays or after-hours) this technology can be useful in helping employees with simple queries so they aren’t left without answers for too long.
Don’t just send content – listen and analyze, too
While it’s important for communications pros to make sure the information they’re sending out is accessible, easy to read and understandable, it’s equally important for them listen and use data and insights to inform their strategies. Making sure employees feel like they’re being heard is critical to protecting the health of the business. And there are many new ways to measure and monitor employee sentiment and satisfaction. While many communicators are familiar with the great intel they can gather through surveys and questionnaires, 2019 will shed light on the importance of employer net promoter scores (eNPS). These specialized, digital surveys can glean more valuable insights in regard to how employees view the organization as a whole. Not only can this help better understand their general sentiment, it can also uncover who the organization’s ‘promoters’ and ‘detractors’ are. Using eNPS, communicators can also pinpoint issues that need to be remedied immediately. The remediation phase should be a constant practice, not just a one-off exercise. This can help create a constant feedback loop and let employees know that they’re being listened to and that they truly have a role in enacting change within the company.
In the new year, internal communications professionals will have a lot of new digital tools at their disposal, and if used properly, it can make them incredibly more effective at their jobs. Optimizing content to be both mobile-ready and multimedia in format will help ensure that their communications are being read. Collecting feedback through digital platforms will also help them analyze data to better inform their strategies. As communications pros continue to adopt more strategic, digital thinking, business leaders will see what an important role they play in keeping employees informed and happy, and realize how that impacts the overall strength of the business.
Simon Dance is CEO at Interact.