Ciara O’Keeffe Internal Communications & Employee Engagement expert gives us her top 5 IC trend predictions for 2019
Line Manager Employee Experience Training
Over the past few years, there has been a focus on providing line managers with communication training to improve their team’s employee engagement levels. More recently, the scope of managers’ responsibilities has been widening to incorporate the whole employee experience. Internal Communications are well placed to deliver training in these areas. IC can help managers connect the dots on how their communication and leadership affects the employee experience and therefore the customer experience.
You can start by outlining what a training course should cover and which group of line managers it should be delivered to first. Then consider how you would measure the success of the training so that you will get sign off to expand it across the organisation.
Technology and Digital Channels
“Intranets are obsolete.” “Are people still using intranets?”, “Why, no one uses the intranet anymore.” These are just a few of the headlines I see from ‘experts’ trying to dismiss intranets. Intranets do not work for some companies but for many, they have a valuable role to play, especially for the information worker and desk-based employees.
I believe that instead of removing intranets there will be a continued focus on producing dynamic quality content, improving search functionality, archiving old information and improving the targeting of content.
Mobile, as a communication and engagement channel, is still in its infancy when it comes to enterprise use, especially in comparison to desktop channels like intranets, which are still being favoured by 53% of organisations. However, with over 80% of non-desk workers underserved by technology, the value of using mobile to reach remote workers is becoming clearer. Furthermore, mobile gives employees a voice, a direct connection to the company and a central hub for company-related systems, while on the go. It continues to be a popular choice for companies who do not have the budget to spend on email licenses, hardware, or systems training. I believe we will continue to see the use of mobile, as an employee communication channel, increase and become more effective over the next 12 months.
If your company is using an intranet, run an employee focus group to find out what employees like and do not like about the platform. Look at the analytics to see what areas of the platform are most popular and conversely those not being used. The results will help you focus your resources on the areas likely to yield the highest impact.
If you are interested in introducing an employee mobile app then an employee focus group is also a good place to start. This previous blog I wrote gives some tips on questions to ask and who to involve.
AI was on my list in last year’s blog. As I mentioned in that blog, AI is only as good as the data it runs off. We all want our systems to be smarter and run automatically but if we are not feeding it good data then the results will be mixed.
AI is, without a doubt, worth the preparation. If we can remove duplication, reduce the repetitive admin tasks and improve the opportunities for communications professionals to add business-generating value then everyone benefits. Communicators can instead focus their efforts on being recognised as trusted advisors.
Speak with your IT partners to find out what the plans are for system improvements in 2019 and if any of them involve the introduction of AI. Find out from your existing IC vendors if they plan on introducing AI anytime soon. Once you have this information then look at ways you can save time and use it for more value-adding activities.
Measurement is a regular on yearly IC trends lists. Gathering analytics and reporting on work that has already been done to show its effectiveness does not happen enough in Internal Communications. It is essential to show senior leadership the impact of improving the employee experience on the business. Being able to clearly link the work being done in IC with improved employee and therefore customer experience will increase budget allocation and go a long way towards giving IC a seat at the table with leadership.
If you are not doing much measurement and analysis now, it is easy to start. Create an employee survey to gather feedback on key initiatives you have worked on this year. Keep the survey relatively short and plan to do one every four months to track progress against the initiatives. Based on the frequent feedback you can change your focus if something is not working before you have spent too much time and resources on it.
Video, another regular of IC trends lists but for good reason. Video is becoming increasingly cheaper to produce while maintaining its effectiveness as a communication medium. Authentic video versus studio-produced is generally preferred by employees. According to Dr. James McQuivey, the value of a 1-minute video is 1.8 million words. Keeping your videos to two-minutes or under will improve engagement. If you have a longer video then cut it into smaller chapters, this also helps highlight important messages in a longer video.
Start by asking a leader, who is more comfortable with recording video messages to shoot one using their mobile device. Edits can still be made to the video; authentic does not have to mean bad quality. Share the video internally and track the level of engagement. Use the feedback to encourage other leaders to record a video message of their own.