The coronavirus crisis proved that employee communications massively affect the health of every business. In 2021, keeping non-desk employees informed and engaged at all times is a given, not a luxury. The next generation of internal communications is digital, and companies are slowly but surely embracing new technologies to stay ahead of the competition.
Erwin van der Vlist, Co-founder of Speakap (employee app for non-desk workforces) and communications expert, shares 2020’s biggest lessons, the one thing successful organizations have in common, and trends that will define the world of communications in 2021.
What were the biggest lessons learned from the coronavirus crisis?
Wow, there are so many!
- The first one that comes to mind is leadership visibility. It can literally make or break the relationship between your employees and your company. We saw CEOs speaking to their entire workforce from their kitchen, recording a video on the spot to share important updates and boost morale. And that's a strong sign of great leadership!
- Another one is authentic communication that speaks to people’s hearts and makes them feel secure. When everything around you is falling apart, timely and relevant messages can make all the world's difference. Employees want to feel heard, recognized, and taken into account, and that's what motivates them and keeps them going no matter how tough life gets.
- And, of course, proactiveness. It affects business continuity big time. Companies that already had a communication strategy in place responded faster and better when the crisis hit. And today, we see that more and more organizations realize the role internal communications play in employee engagement and productivity.
From your experience, what's one thing successful organizations have in common when it comes to employee communications?
Thriving organizations see employees as the glue that holds their business together, and that's why they take that extra step. Their internal communication strategy is way more than sending employees the occasional newsletter or a one-time emergency update. They recognize that people need something deeper to feel connected. Those businesses turn communication into a full employee experience: employees and managers who work in different shifts and time zones or even speak different languages connect instantly with only one click. How amazing is that?
For employees, vital information about their work, the type of information they actually care about, such as urgent news updates, work schedules, and shift transfers, is available on the spot. At the same time, managers have real-time insights into what's going on every single moment of the day, which is extremely valuable. On top of that, they can rest assured that their messages are always received and read.
It's this instant exchange of information that gives everyone a sense of security, and eventually creates successful leaders and a happier, high performing workforce.
What employee communication trends should communication leaders look for in 2021?
Internal communication gets a promotion
Before the crisis, internal communication leaders were often challenged with convincing higher management to invest in their work. It's now more than clear that employee communication cannot be bypassed, to the contrary, it’s getting its own seat at the table of decision-makers in large and medium-sized organizations.
Leaders become better communicators
Data from the Edelman study confirms that employees expect employers to keep them updated every step of the way during crises. That means leaders have to polish their communication skills and become way more visible to their workforce. That's a one-way road to building trust and nurturing relationships with employees!
Real data replaces ‘gut feelings’
So far, proving the impact of internal communications on the business was a rather tedious task, to say the least. In 2021, communications leaders realize the significance of data and start exploring a wide range of key metrics: from employee engagement and satisfaction to user behavior, and digital tools -- you name it. They’ll used them to evaluate and optimize their communication strategy and bring that critical data to the stakeholders' table.
Communication gets humanized (finally!) by technology
Employees' needs and targeted messages to individuals and groups set a new standard in communication. Many companies will have to run the extra mile and go from an analog to a digital communication strategy, but it's worth the effort. The good news is that numerous new tools and platforms help companies customize the employee journey and give a more personal communication experience.
If you ask me, 2021 is the year of the bold. Everything will be perfectly imperfect, and those who have the right tools to adapt to the everlasting change of the "new normal" will be the big winners. We have the knowledge to make internal communications work, so let’s take the bull by the horns and do it!
The content of this blog is courtesy of Rita Theologi, Product and Marketing Copywriter at Speakap. UKG and Speakap have partnered to make non-desk employees’ lives easier by giving them access to instant company updates, work schedules, and shift transfers with one click. To learn more about the UKG and Speakap partnership, visit their marketplace page.