First of all, we’ve been engaged in all areas of the digital workplace, comms and HR spheres throughout 2020 (as we all know we’ve had a lot of flux). So this by no means is an exhaustive list. Keep an eye out as we’ll add to this piece before the year is out! 🙌
Every year brings different challenges and new ways of working. However, the events of 2020 have accelerated the rate of change like never before. The Covid-19 pandemic has created many challenges and difficulties for HR and Comms pros. Not least due to the fact that it has further placed the role of internal communications in the spotlight. Often at best considered auxiliary and at worst, overlooked; the internal communications department is now getting well-deserved attention and corporate integration.
For years now, the need for the increased importance of effective internal communication and employee XP has become a commonplace battle-cry that some businesses just chose to ignore or cherry-pick from. Though 2020 marked a paradigm shift from ensuring the employee XP is clear, cohesive, culturally relevant and any misstep may mean a risk of danger, for business and its employees alike.
Many of the tools & processes companies have implemented and adopted during the pandemic may fortify their position in 2021, though it’s not been without learnings – some enterprises have hurried through new systems, responding to the crisis, doing so without a purpose, a framework to manage them in place. It’s with this in mind, businesses can’t ignore the rise of some trends and watch for patterns in 2021.
IC Importance Grows Every Day
Anyone who works in IC understands the importance of internal communication. We know that effective internal communication is the answer to driving change in the workplace and ensuring strong employee engagement. However, convincing senior management to invest in our plans has often been a struggle. In fact, the investment in the internal communication function has been absurdly low; the equivalent of the cost of a chocolate bar per employee per month according to Reba. Now, times have changed.
The challenges of the last year have put a spotlight on the vital role of internal communication. The need to communicate quickly and effectively with employees has become a pressing concern. Suddenly, outdated systems and poor staff uptake have been highlighted for urgent improvement and investment.
Companies can no longer afford for that archaic system to remain. What was once a corporate toothache will be an immediate cross-company migraine. Internal systems must earn their place within the employee ecosystem, and this understanding must be writ large across all decision-makers. Little can be achieved if IC leaders need solutions rapidly, yet procurement wishes to enforce slow protocols.
Digital Transformation Helps you Prevent Leaving Anyone Behind
With the sudden switch to remote working, internal communications tools have come under urgent review. Traditional methods of internal communication such as printed newsletters, town hall meetings, and conferences are no longer viable. When every communication is of vital importance, it’s no longer acceptable to be unable to track whether it has been received.
Of course, not everyone is working remotely and this brings its own issues. Some employees will be office-based, some will be working from home, and others will be on the road. But wherever they are, they need to be contactable at all times in the event of an emergency. It’s become clear that organizations need to be equipped with internal communication channels that can reach people instantly, without fail, wherever they are.
Frontline Workers Can Finally be Included
One of the most obvious internal communications trends to surface is the sudden awareness of the frontline worker. Previously overlooked, these key workers are now top of the priority list. Now, when leaders are reviewing communicating with employees, the frontline worker is their number one concern.
It has become increasingly clear that frontline workers are amongst the most important employees in the organization. However, these people are traditionally the most underserved when it comes to access to technology. When it comes to effective communication in the workplace, these are the employees who have drawn the short straw. But in 2021, things will change.
It’s no longer good enough to hope they get to hear your comms somehow. Frontline workers need access to communication tools and technology that connects with them instantly, and an internal communication platform has been the solution for many organizations and will continue to be so in the future.
Whilst many corporate workers have had a hard time remote working, technology and strategy flocked to the cause. For the desk-less, many channels and methods remained largely unchanged. Its forms part of the Beem mission to address the attention imbalances across the workforce; we’re hopeful that 2021 may be the year where we also see this more widely
Real-Time Comms Becomes Vital
Whereas once it was perfectly fine to fire out an email and wait for employees across the company to read it over the course of the week, this is no longer an option. It is now one of the critical internal communication best practices to ensure that messages are delivered instantly.
The directives, policies, and news you need to share with staff are now always in flux. A rule that applied on Monday may need to change on Tuesday morning. When it comes to communicating change, a delay isn’t just undesirable, it could also be dangerous. If there is a time-lag in passing on crucial information, people will continue to act in a way that could end up endangering their own health and safety.
The need for instant connection has come to the fore and a clear strategy on how to handle push notifications and real-time updates needs to be on businesses’ top priority list for 2021.
A new awareness of mental health and workplace health issues is one of the main trends in internal communication. Employee health and wellbeing has always been on the agenda, but in truth, it’s been rather low on the list. However, if companies are looking to improve internal communication in 2021, wellbeing should be one of your main concerns.
In addition to the risk of the coronavirus affecting employees, there are also numerous mental and physical health issues that can arise during this time. Isolation, stress, and anxiety are very real problems, and all need to be addressed with sensitivity. Research has shown that two in three employees now feel more burned-out than before the pandemic.
Opening up feedback channels has never been more important. Whether you send out an extensive internal communications survey or a quick pulse poll, it’s vital to know how your employees are feeling.
Anything companies decide to implement, they need to develop something towards monitoring the ongoing health of the organization and its people. After all, healthy and happy employees are the key to business success.
Putting 2020 behind us and looking forward to 2021, we can expect to see several trends in communication continue in the coming years. As the rise of the frontline worker and the pivotal role they played in keeping society functioning during a global pandemic continues to unfold, the digitization of the frontline workforce and emphasis on operational efficiency will continue their acceleration as companies recover and rebuild in the year 2021.