Effective internal communication has two pillars: respect and mutual trust. Companies recognizing its potential and being able to capitalise on it enjoy a number of benefits translating into greater growth. So before you believe that internal communication is just a waterfall of information, read the statistics.
The role of internal communication is, according to many managers, to describe the corporate reality. Such an approach is slowly—but consistently—falling into decline. More and more studies prove that it has a much greater impact on business than previously assumed. It is not only an achievement, but also a great deal of responsibility. And it falls on the shoulders of those responsible for it. Although internal communication is most often only becoming more important in times of crisis, without a solid foundation of values and support from the board, leaders and other departments, under no circumstances it has a chance of successfully performing its role.
Stats you need to know
Internal communication—construed as a creator, advisor and partner of business, and not as a means of communication—must have a strong foundation rooted in values. The most important of these are respect and trust in employees at every level of the organization. It is these, combined with an openness to dialogue, rather than a one-way message, that allow for a coherent communication strategy. But this is not just the task of the communication team, but of the entire management. Statistics show how significant this is.
Companies with an effective, coherent, and efficient communication strategy:
- Have 4 times higher chance to employ engaged workforce,
- Improve quality of their recruitment processes 3 times more frequently.
Despite these publicly available data, as much as 60% of companies do not establish a long-term internal communication strategy. Its absence may cost the company more than it seems. The Gallup Institute’s report estimates that the drop in productivity, linked to low employee engagement, costs employers in the United States as much as USD 550 billion a year. Losses caused by the loss of efficiency due to the pandemic have not yet been estimated.
Internal communication in the new reality
With the beginning of the era of remote and hybrid work, communication teams have entered a new land, unknown before. The report of 2016 forecasting the future of remote work predicted that by 2022 the number of remote workers would increase from 1.45 billion to 1.87 billion worldwide. The latest statistics are not yet available, but it can be reasonably assumed that in 2020 this figure was reached. Studies also suggest that many workers do not want to go back to the times from before the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning office work only. And this means that internal communication departments—willing to contribute to the culture of their organizations and to support them in achieving their objectives—must adapt their strategies to the new conditions. Or reinvent them.
How to support hybrid teams?
Internal communication in the pandemic, but probably also after the pandemic, will have to play at least 3 basic roles. These will comprise the following:
- Leveraging knowledge exchange between online and offline employees,
- Strengthening and creating an organizational culture,
- Supporting managers in building engagement.
The McKinsey Global Institute’s (MGI’s) report reveals that employees spend as much as 20% of their time every week looking for the information necessary to perform their work. Knowledge management in an organization involves many processes that require close cross-departmental collaboration and support of tools. Is it necessary? The same study shows that companies using modern social technologies can increase the productivity of qualified specialists by as much as 20-25%. So perhaps that is something worth the effort.
When it comes to supporting and contributing to organizational culture, the most important thing in the context of internal communication is trust. William Craig in the article in Forbes proves that it even is a key factor, using a simple correlation—people who trust each other make more money. And we trust when we understand the purpose and values. And in general, we are not very good at this. According to studies, only 72% of employees fully understand the strategy of their company.
Internal communication can be a great ally in building engagement in hybrid teams, with an impact on their long and short-term goals. However, its role must constantly evolve and be adapted to changing circumstances. Such flexibility requires commitment and cooperation on many levels, including technological ones.