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How the consumer world is driving development and innovation within communications


How the consumer world is driving development and innovation within communications

Naomi Hamilton Market Insight

The consumer world drives development and innovation and employee engagement is playing catch-up.

Organisations are going through constant change, the development of technology means that we have to work quicker and smarter. Internal communications is at the heart of that for many businesses, the way to deliver what works is to listen, learn and be creative.

I recently attended the Internal Communications Conference which was packed with great speakers who had engaging stories to tell about internal communications and employee engagement initiatives that they had led on.  As I can’t transcribe the entire conference, I have gone with the next best thing...my five key takeaways from the conference.

  1. Bringing the employee experience up to speed with the consumer experience

Several speakers mentioned that our consumer experience is better than our business experience. As a consumer, we receive tailored news alerts, our social media is littered with organic and bitesize video content, and we can download new apps and just give them a go, instead of receiving hours of training.

The consumer world drives development and innovation, and employee engagement is playing catch-up with that. I felt that the need to catch-up with the way people engage as a consumer, was shown to be paramount in the different internal communications case studies.

  1. Video content is the present and the future- when done well

A staggering 80% of all content online is video. One stat that blew my mind was “more video content has been created in the last 30 days than in the last 30 years of broadcasting!”

The most effective types of video content were short, organic and people focussed stories. The demand to deliver engaging video content is high, so the need to reduce cost is also high.

The speakers concluded that engaging and successful video content is two minutes long, with subtitles and for international businesses, is translated accordingly. Employees most probably won’t sit down to watch a 20-minute video of the quarterly meeting, but will sit and watch two minute bitesize chunks, about the topics that matter to them.  

  1. Importance of communications ambassadors

The internal communications team is only as strong as its ambassadors, and the investment from the senior leadership team. Line managers have the power of passing on or blocking your message whereas the C-Suite has the platform to drive an engaged environment.

Successful communications didn’t solely rely on the internal communications function but utilised CEO led initiatives, networks and relationships across the business, and the skills of other individuals.

  1. Massive appetite for mental health and wellbeing to be on the agenda

CIPD and Simplyhealth did a report on mental health and wellbeing and found that only 61% of senior leaders have wellbeing on their agenda, and only 30% of managers are confident to have sensitive conversations. Findings like this have prompted internal communications teams to drive awareness and initiatives, and needed the support of leaders and managers to do it well.

The overriding theme was that there is a massive appetite for it, and organisations that had focused on it found that there was a lot of organic content, ambassadors and at a minimum cost. Proving the worth of it to the SLT seemed to be a no brainer- it improves retention and is reflective of a conversation that is happening all around us, be that inside or outside of work.

  1. Digital communications shouldn’t be used instead of building emotional relationships

Throughout the day there was a lot of discussions around the use of digital tools in internal communications and employee engagement, they help drive efficiency and increases communication in a variety of ways. Conversely, one of the speakers described digital platforms as a “lazy way of engagement”, others focused on the need for emotional relationships.

Encouraging a culture change through human behaviours was mentioned throughout the day, with successful and tangible examples being given through using:

  • One-to-ones
  • Talking to demonstrate empathy
  • Smiling
  • Being nice to people
  • Focus groups
  • Talking to the senior leadership team
  • Using people stories
  • Getting to the heart of how a business is making people feel

I got the sense that sometimes the simplest methods of engagement were the most effective.

I have summarised five topics that I found interesting, but there was so much more covered over the course of the day. I could have easily written about many more topics so, if you were there, I would love to hear what resonated with you. If you weren’t then let me know what you think has been important to your approach to internal communications.