What questions are we still asking?

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Our blog celebrated its 10th birthday this week and we’ve been going back through the archives to see what has/hasn’t changed. We’ve picked the top three things that jumped out at me but feel free to have a scroll through, let us know what you think!

1. What is internal communication (IC)?

Back in 2012 Jenni used LinkedIn to ask the question. As you’d expect, the answers were varied but all aligned with the fact that internal communication should link to better business and changing behaviours. However, there was no mention of driving digital comms strategies or the technology to deliver it. No surprise as these have appeared more recently with the explosion of social media, comms platforms/apps and employee apps.

The 2020 State of the Sector (SOTS) report detailed the top 3 IC activities broken down across 4 regions: UK, Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific.

Top 3 for the UK were:

  1. Communicating the strategy, vision, and values
  2. Corporate announcements
  3. Driving the people agenda/improving employee experience

In the VMA CEO Perspective report, CEO’s expected their IC person to lead the digital transformation of the function. The SOTS report showed that the only Europe and Asia Pacific listed ‘Developing and launching new communication technologies’ in their top three priorities (3rd place for both). Should those of us in the other regions switch to be inline with this?

2. Where should the internal comms function sit? HR, Comms or other?

There was no one answer back in 2012, nor is there a fixed answer today. The continued agreement is that perhaps it doesn’t matter as much so long as you have a voice in the organisation.

The VMA CEO Perspective report, showed that there is a shift towards less rigid silos and instead a growing preference for blended boundaries and remits between comms, marketing and HR. On The Internal Comms Podcast Roger D’Aprix talked of the virtues of one team. That’s his vision too, rather than continuing to work in age-old silos.

The SOTS report issued earlier this year showed that 48% of respondents said their IC function is part of an integrated corporate comms. They commonly work alongside PR and the corporate affairs team. Note that this is down from 52% in 2019, but up from 30% in 2015. Also, for the first time, we saw the positive feedback that 2% report into a strategy, transformation, and innovation team. There is no doubt that this conversation has moved on. Before we were asking where it should sit, now we are creating a broader function around it. A sure sign that the influence of internal comms is being recognised!

3. Measurement

Was, and still is, a hot topic! We continue to ask questions about how to measure employee engagement/experience. We’re still asking how to show the ROI of an IC function.

The SOTS report disappointingly showed a static trend of 20% rarely measuring their comms. The majority voted ‘evolving’ with the occasional use of data and metrics. When asked why, 63% said tech limitations closely followed by 56% who said lack of time/resource.

Communicators understand the importance of data and metrics, but they don’t always have the tools or the time to gather them. So continues the catch-22 situation. Without metrics you are unlikely to be able to prove the worth of the function – but you won’t get allocated budget/tech/resource without proving that worth first.

44% claimed their organisation wasn’t interested in knowing how well the comms was being received. This doesn’t support the other statistics showing it’s being perceived as more of an influential and strategic role.

Though it’s important to look back to see the progress, we also need to recognise areas where the needle hasn’t moved as much. We can then pay a little more attention and be part of the movement to drive things forward!

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