As technology continues to evolve, so does the workplace. Internal communications have evolved to fit the needs of companies and their workforces. As more employees work remotely, mobile communication has grown in popularity, and other similar trends have emerged. To adapt, organizations should assess the communication tools available to them and adopt the best technologies to connect an increasingly dispersed workforce.
You may recognize these six trends currently driving the future of internal communications. They underscore the importance of internal communications in business organizations:
Increasingly remote workforce — Trends that characterize the workforce at a broader level include the rise of the non-desk worker. Specific industries, including manufacturing, have a largely remote workforce, but now even companies predominantly comprised of knowledge workers are increasingly dispersed. These dispersed workforces include gig economy workers, remote employees, and more.
Facing such trends, organizations encounter greater challenges when it comes to communicating with and engaging their employees, and they already recognize this: According to research compiled by Deloitte in 2017, 80% of survey respondents said that culture and engagement should be a top priority for corporations in order for them to respond the needs of their employees.
Companies are more interested in improving employee experience, in part because of the increased mobility of today’s workforce.
Employee engagement technology — This greater prioritization of employee experience reveals a greater need for employee engagement tech. Email, which has long been the primary form of communication within corporations, is no longer as viable for internal communication. Not all employees have corporate email addresses. Even if they do, employers have no way of knowing whether their employees read the emails they receive.
What’s more, non-desk workers who work on factory floors or are otherwise mobile cannot check their emails frequently. However, instant communication is crucial in times of crisis and other time-sensitive situations.
Businesses need employee engagement tech to keep dispersed workforces connected, and they need tools to gauge and improve engagement. As companies become more interested in upgrading the employee experience, they also rely more on analytics functionality that tells them which employees are using the internal communication tool to stay informed and engaged. Some tools even allow managers to follow up with employees who haven’t opened important messages.
Beekeeper is a communication and productivity platform that lets dispersed teams work together better. It is mobile-first and desktop-friendly, connecting an entire manufacturing workforce –– from employees on the plant floor to office workers –– across locations and departments in real-time.
It is easy to implement quickly and even easy to use, and it centralizes the existing operational systems and makes them accessible to everyone. With secure group messaging, document storage, and an analytics dashboard, Beekeeper promotes goal alignment across the enterprise.
Common use cases for Beekeeper in manufacturing environments include:
- Mobile incident reporting via dedicated communication streams;
- Push notifications that alert manufacturing workers with real-time updates;
- Posting safety awareness information and training content, such as videos, photos, reminders, and other related resources;
- Sharing changes to factory production schedules or worksite conditions; and
- Centralized digital hub for equipment manuals, policies and procedures
Internal communications as internal branding — According to a Gallup poll, only 27% of U.S. employees believe in their company’s values. This stat underwhelms because employees should be the best champion of organizations’ brands and values: if not, they won’t be able to represent the company brand to customers and deliver quality service that aligns with the organization’s values.
Given this trend, organizations should rethink internal communications as more than just corporate newsletters and email updates. Communications should be thought of as internal branding or marketing, and prioritized as much as external communications. While internal communication does not seem to have a direct impact on customer relations, the quality of service that employees deliver certainly does have such an impact.
Companies should promote their values not merely to potential clients, but to their own employees. Once they increase their employees’ emotional investment in the work they do, organizations will be able to reflect their values in their workforce as brand advocates. Internal communication is a branding and marketing opportunity, and corporate managers should recognize employees who reflect their core values so that the whole organization can work to deliver on the brand promise.
Decentralization and flattening — The shift from traditional communication means, such as emails and bulletin boards, has given rise to new forms of communication with features evocative of social media platforms: mentions, newsfeeds, and more. This change in communication style results in a decentralization and flattening across corporate communications.
Though the advantages of a decentralized digital tool are clear, the success of a digital tool with your workforce relies on a strategic rollout that both generates excitement and demonstrates how work will improve upon deployment. Beekeeper’s Customer Success Team works with teams via a four-phase plan:
1. Strategy. Beekeeper works with you to understand the current status of internal communications and productivity at your company. This involves assessing what’s working and what’s not in order to set goals and build an effective plan to reach them.
2. Implementation. Leadership buy-in and subsequent modeling is essential to successful adoption of your digital tool. We provide a roadmap, that includes templates, content ideas, rollout events, and best practices, for successful implementation of Beekeeper.
3. Assessing ROI. Understanding the value and impact of Beekeeper on the bottom line is another component, and lets the rest of the business know how valuable improved communication and productivity are.
4. Sustained growth and follow-up. In quarterly business reviews (QBRs) we analyze usage and revisit how well initial goals that were set are being met, as well as opportunities for growth, and a chance for your to share feedback with us.
Whereas company decisions were once made via extensive email threads, formal meetings, and conference calls, now they are determined in more collaborative settings and channels of communication. Furthermore, as workforces get more connected through engagement and communication platforms, more decisions get made lower in the organization.
Sharing best practices — Communication platforms also are being used for resource sharing, from important documents to videos. Some organizations have used this to share best practices among their teams by asking sales reps to submit videos of themselves responding to common objections. Then, managers then the best videos to share as examples with the rest of the team. More generally, employees can share various insights and any other resources in order to bring out the best in each other and the company as a whole.
Targeted content — As communication platforms become more powerful, businesses can make internal communication more relevant to employees and avoid information overload with targeted content. They can use personalized communication plans and send tailored information to specific departments or other groups of employees. For this to happen, organizations should have a system that segments employee data, or have a communications platform where users can be categorized.
The future of internal communications is clearly mobile. As workforces have become more dispersed, companies need to keep their employees more engaged than ever. Thankfully, technological advances and powerful communication platforms can help organizations accomplish this. From user analytics to targeted content, the best communication tools today have features that help organizations revamp their corporate communications system and connect their employees.
Cristian Grossman is CEO and co-founder of Beekeeper, a digital workplace app that digitizes the non-desk workforce by connecting operational systems and communication channels on one platform.