Internal communications trends are always a hot topic for those in the industry and in the last three months there have been lots of reports, research papers and blog posts with suggestions and ideas from technology companies and experts in the profession.
It can be hard to know which ones to pay attention to but, based on my reading, these are the trends or themes that I think will have the greatest impact throughout 2024…
Internal communications trends for 2024
- Connecting employees with each other in the human sense, not the tech sense
- AI (Artificial intelligence)
- Hyper-personalisation – tailoring content to employees
- Creating content that actually engages your audience
- Focusing on the employee experience and making it as good as the customer one
- Building trust in leaders and the organisation as a whole
- Using data, analytics and insights to drive decisions and activities
I’ve been writing about how these align to CEO, HR and employee priorities over on LinkedIn but, in this blog post, I wanted to delve into what these mean and what action needs to be taken. I’ll share a bit of detail about each one and then end with some recommendation around actions to take.
Connecting employees with each other in the human sense
This isn’t a surprise and it’s something we are chatting to clients about a lot. Some of this is linked to change programmes and helping people along that journey but it’s also linked to the challenges in some organisations where hybrid or remote work has dehumanised the workplace.
I’m a big fan of more flexibility at work where your role allows it. I’ve worked in a hybrid way for a decade (before it was called hybrid!) and I enjoy the freedom to design my week around meetings and deep work. But with those changes comes a pay-off. And the pay-off has undoubtedly been a loss of human connection within the workplace.
AI (Artificial intelligence)
Nothing like a broad topic as a trend! This one is a big one and, for communicators, it’s one that seems encased in fear. In my recommendations later I’ve shared some links to some resources I‘ve found helpful but this is also one that needs attention as an educational trend. We are still learning and we need to take time to do that.
AI and how we use technology is organisations is still evolving. What it needs to be in the future is not where it is now, so we need to look at the tasks it can help us be more efficient with and how it can make the employee experience better.
Hyper-personalisation – tailoring content to employees
Hyper-personalised content would be wonderful but, as a starting point, just personalised content would be great! And I think that’s the piece here. We need to strive for the content we share internally to be personalised to the end user.
When people say an organisation is noisy, what they are telling you is that the content they received isn’t relevant.
Creating content that actually engages your audience
In 2022 I wrote a blog about the need to be more creative, and here’s the reason why. If we’re expecting people to read multiple channels and consume too much content, we lose our ability to cut through the day-to-day work that’s the real focus of their attention.
We know from the Microsoft Work Trends Index that 64% of people don’t have time to do their work, let alone any other tasks, so if we want to engage them with our content we have our work cut out.
Focusing on the employee experience and making it as good as the customer one
We saw this coming to the fore in 2023 and it looks set to continue in 2024.
I wrote a lot about employee experience and the link to internal communication last year, sharing a new model to support this [add link to a blog post I need to write!].
This is important to mention because, for me, this trend is about culture and the role communication plays in that.
Internal communication is the tangible representation of culture and the investment needed in the experience for employees is heavily linked to how things get done and the tools they have to communicate and collaborate with each other.
Building trust in the leaders and the organisation as a whole
Trust is talked about a lot but we need to understand what’s leading us to conclude that trust is an issue. What are the symptoms here? Is it trust with one leader? Is it all of them? Is it psychological safety that’s the problem?
This will take a strategy on its own and it will need some consideration of behaviours and actions. This needs to be consistent and every day.
This is bigger than internal communication and needs a joined-up effort with HR and the learning and development team.
Using data, analytics and insights to drive decisions and activities
We struggle with data and analytics, and often have insights that are ticking a box on a scorecard but not actually doing anything to drive forward strategy and decisions.
“Your opinion is not enough in the board room” is a line that has stayed with me through my career and this is why. But, data for data’s sake is not helpful, it needs to be meaningful. What data and insights do you and your team need? Go and get those to help you understand your audience, what they need, what they are engaging with, what is working and what isn’t.
Some recommendations around what to do next
- What is the outcome of the content you’re sharing? If it needs to be engaging, how can you make it more experiential, interactive and interesting? Less is more
- Know your audience. Invest the time to understand the personas of the different groups you have internally to make sure the content is relevant to them
- Learn about AI, not just how it applies to communications but to organisations as a whole. The Christmas Lectures in 2023 are a great source
- Define your employee experience and how communication plays a role in it. What is the experience you want employees to have? Then work out how internal communication enables that
- An audit of channels and content should be carried out every few years with some check-ins throughout. Give yourself time to make the changes and see the changes have an impact
If you want to explore these trends inside your organisation and look at how to take any of them forward in your strategy for 2024, drop us an email at email@example.com and we can arrange time to chat about how we can help.