employee engagement Posts

Top Internal Communications Challenges (Part 1)

Internal Communications challanges

By Paul Barton, ABC

Internal communications teams are working hard to support internal branding campaigns and employee engagement efforts. They also are increasingly being asked to show a positive impact on business results. They are increasing their use of video as an internal communications channel, but they are not jumping on the enterprise social network bandwagon in large numbers. Those are among the findings of our recent Internal Communications Top Challenges Survey where we asked clients, blog subscribers, and others to weigh in on the top priorities and challenges internal communications professionals are facing.

We will present the quantitative results of the survey in this post and an analysis of the qualitative comments in Part II on Friday. Many of the survey results validated the predictions I made at the beginning of the year in my guest blog on IC Kollectif. That post also offered suggestions and I will repeat those in this post.


Increased Need for Internal Branding and Employee Engagement

Survey respondents overwhelmingly said that in their organizations there was an increased need for stronger internal branding and employee engagement (61.11% very much, 38.89% somewhat, 0% not at all). Suggestion: Internal Communications, MarComm, PR, HR and Community Relations will need to work together and integrate messages in ways they haven’t had to in the past to articulate the employee value proposition, demonstrate a commitment to diversity, and validate corporate responsibility. Caution: If messages aren’t deemed authentic, they will be immediately disregarded.


Growing Demand for Internal Communications to Show Impact

Most respondents said there was a growing demand for internal communications to show an impact on business results (38.46% very much, 42.3% somewhat, 19.23% not at all). This is often the case for a non-revenue producing function like internal communications but more so now due to economic uncertainty. Suggestions: Internal communicators will need to find workable metrics and determine the best ways to report their outcomes in unassailable, meaningful and digestible data. Ditch the text-heavy Word docs and replace them with colorful data-driven Excel charts to tout your successes to the leadership in your organization.


Video Growing as an Internal Communications Channel

Survey respondents said video is growing as an internal communications channel in their organizations (66.67% very much, 16.67% somewhat, 16.66% not at all). We presented some case studies with First Solar and Honeywell Aerospace last year. These companies are using video as their primary internal communications channel. Suggestions: Internal communicators will need to become well-versed in video production technologies. Another huge opportunity for internal communicators is fully optimizing the video capabilities of digital signage. The leadership of some organizations may have difficulty accepting the new reality that authenticity of video content is vastly more important than cinematic quality.


Enterprise Social Networks Growing (but not for everyone)

While the survey shows some growth in the prevalence of Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs), it clearly shows many organizations are not jumping on technologies like Yammer and SalesForce Chatter just yet (5.88% very much, 47.06% somewhat, 47.06% not at all). My suspicion is that many organizational leaders don’t see the value of ESNs and therefore are reluctant to invest time or money into them. Remember when organizations tried to block the internet from employees? It was work necessity that eventually unblocked the internet. I believe as mobile communication technologies continue to grow, work demands eventually will force organizations to embrace ESNs are a way to collaborate. Suggestion: Internal communicators eventually will need to embrace, facilitate and enable peer-to-peer communication, more lateral integration and more virtual collaboration. They will need to work with IT, HR and others to develop the policies and procedures that support it. But for most, there isn’t any rush.

Do these survey results mirror what’s going with internal communications in your organization? Please let us know in the comments section below. And be sure to check back for Part 2 when we will discuss areas survey respondents identified as their biggest challenges. Many thanks to all of you who took the time to take our survey!

UPDATE: We asked the same questions on the Aug. 11, 2017, Poppolu webinar and here are those results.


The No. #1 Factor that Affects Employee Engagement and How to Measure it

Paul Barton Communications Employee Engagement

“When you take the time to actually listen, with humility, to what people have to say, it’s amazing what you can learn.” – Greg Mortenson

When you are trying to maximize internal communication, you must focus on outcomes, not outputs. In other words, you should not be nearly as concerned with how many times an article appeared in the company newsletter or how many times the home page of the intranet was visited. What’s most important is the impact of your communication strategies on workplace behaviors, like employee engagement.

Many factors affect employee engagement, but communication is the overriding factor. That’s because everything an organization does is communicating something to employees. As communication expert David Grossman of The Grossman Group says, “You can’t not communicate.” An organization’s working conditions, employee benefits offerings, policies and procedures, taboo topics and unwritten rules are all forms of communicating.

Getting as many employees as you can to become as engaged as possible in your organization’s success is a primary goal of effective internal communication. So, how do you measure engagement?

First, you must define what employee engagement is. That’s been a hotly debated topic over the past few years but here’s the definition I think makes the most sense: Employee engagement exists when an employee feels intellectually and emotionally connected to his or her work in such a way that the employee brings enthusiasm, intense focus and deep commitment to the success of his or her job and the organization.

According to Sue Oliver, founder of Kantana Partners, to determine the levels of employee engagement, researchers focus on these five employee areas and questions:

  1. Job satisfaction: Rate your overall satisfaction.
  2. Organizational favorability: I feel proud to work here.
  3. Organization values: This organization lives up to its core values.
  4. Intent to stay: If I had to do it over again, I would join this organization.
  5. Recommendation: I would recommend this organization as a great place to work.

To be regarded as a strategic communicator and an executive counselor, you must focus on outcomes that are meaningful to your organization, and then find ways to demonstrate the effectiveness of your work.

Additional Resources

You can learn more about how to successfully measure employee engagement and the steps employees must go through to reach engagement in my book, “Maximizing Internal Communication: Strategies to Turn Heads, Win Hearts, Engage Employees and Get Results”, also available on Amazon.

David Grossman’s books “You Can’t Not Communicate” Nos. 1 and 2.