We live in an ever-changing and evolving world, and as we enter not just another a new year, but also a new decade, it is clear that the pace of change is accelerating, and with that brings new challenges and new focus for internal communicators. Here are five predicted 2020 Internal Commucations Trends.

1. Employee brand advocates

The use of employees as brand advocates is no new, break-through revolution. Organisation’s have been using the power of its employees for company-gain for years. However, with Millennials currently representing 50% of the workforce (and growing), and with Generation Z now starting to enter the workplace, never has the role of an employee brand advocate been more important.

Organisation’s want to retain and attract top talent, who in return want great career opportunities, development, purpose and flexibility. A company’s reputation, purpose and culture have become vital in a candidate’s selection process, and thanks to social media and sites such as Glassdoor, this information has never been more transparent or accessible. Candidates no longer rely on a company’s careers site to sell them the dream.

Younger generations entering the workplace are now more connected than ever. They have grown up with social media, adopting new technologies, they’re better connected and they’re more savvy and in-tune with their own needs than ever before, meaning “outsiders”, now gain an inside perspective into a company’s values and culture. Employees have become unofficial corporate storytellers, sharing their thoughts, views and experiences with their network and beyond. They reach wider audiences through social media than organisation’s could ever achieve and it is vital that organisations harvest this power and move employee advocacy programmes up their priority list.

2. Communications on the go

Most orgainsations are already utilising mobile to communicate to and engage employees, and many IC teams will have implemented a multi-channel strategy for reaching employees. However, both the adoption of Office 365 and flexible working policies should make this a higher priority for communicators.

Remote workers, and those working flexibly (i.e. outside of core 9 – 5 hours) is said to have reached 54% of the workforce, while the implementation of O365 has also grown to 56%. Employees are no longer accessible purely in the office, however technology developments have made it easier for employees to remain connected to their employer, regardless of their location. Therefore, implementing a “mobile” content strategy is key. Communications needs to be integrated across channels, with consistent messages, complementing one another; not competing

However, technology and work/life balance is not the only driver for this. As above, with Millennials representing 50% of workforce (projected 75% by 2025) and with Generation Z entering the workplace, communications need to be more digital and technology orientated to engage the “always on” generation.

3. Cut through the noise

We are a nation of change fatigue and exhausted by information overload. News outlets, brands and social media all demand our attention on a daily basis. With advertising alone, it is estimated we are exposed to 4,000 to 10,000 adverts a day. That’s a lot of information for one person. We then get to work and have similar demands on our mental capacity. What’s to stop employees from tuning out of your communications? Better segmentation and personalisation of communications will be key; understanding employees wants and needs and delivering the information that they want to hear about and feel passionate about.

Outside of work, we all want more control over our data, the volume of messages we receive and the type of messages that we receive. These same principles need to be applied in the workplace also, blurring the lines between our internal and external experiences, and cut through the white noise, delivering only what matters to employees, or more importantly, giving them a choice as to what they consume.

4. Instant communications

Social media. Apps. Push notifications. Email alerts. Mobile friendly content. Not only is information and news just a short few clicks away, it’s instant. In fact, most of us likely hear news via alerts we have set up, or through social media before we see it on the news, certainly before the papers come out the next morning, as per previous generations.

The more accessible content is, the more impatient we become when we then can’t find what we want – this is just a fact of the modern world today. We don’t want to spend time looking or searching for content, we either expect to be notified, or for it to be accessible on our chosen platform; we certainly don’t want to hear about news 24 hours or more after something has happened. So the way we communicate externally has changed, and this instant accessibility of information and news needs to be replicated internally. This includes not just the timeliness of communications, but the medium that enables that speed of delivery also (for example, video, verbal or face to face over written communications perhaps, due to less check and review processes).

5. The role of senior leaders

Fake news. Political unrest. Threats of potential wars. We are living in very uncertain times and we know from Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer that trust has hit an all time low externally. People are looking to their employers for stability and certainty. They’re looking for a credible voice and the role that senior leaders play within that has never been more critical.

This may be from last year’s Trust Barometer, but the findings are still relevant today. We can see that from news headlines alone. Also, generations across the workforce have seen or experienced the implications of this unrest. The financial crash. Job losses. Company closures. Younger generations have grown up hearing these things discussed on the news and over the dinner table, while older generations have experienced it and lived through it themselves. While there is much evidence highlighting the difference between generations and how to engage with them, this is one area that does unite all those different generations and Internal Communicators have a great opportunity here to add value to senior stakeholders, positioning them as the trusting voice employees are looking for, and make a real impact to their colleagues (in turn creating brand advocates – see point 1).

So these are my predictions for 2020 internal communications trends, based on my own experiences and perceptions. Clearly, there are a lot more than 5 things that Internal Communicators will be focusing on this year, but these seem to be the most apparent.

What are your views and thoughts? What do you think will be the big 2020 internal communications trends? Perhaps you’re focusing your efforts in different areas? Share your views in the comments section below, or tweet me @mandypops, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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