2017 Internal Communications Report

With unemployment at an impressive low and more jobs available than there is talent to fill them, employee retention should be top-of-mind for employers today. One of the keys to maintaining an engaged employee population is communication — which means that a focus on internal communications strategy has never been more important.

That’s why we’ve set out to better understand the IC landscape through our annual Internal Communications Survey. We looked at a diverse range of company sizes across a variety of industries to better ascertain how employers are using their internal communications programs — and if they’re having the proper impact on employees. We also took into account last year’s metrics to better understand how internal communications and their impact are changing year-over-year.

Overall, it appears that metrics are following a positive trend in terms of utilization and effectiveness. We can attribute this change to the fact that IC tools are getting better and becoming more available — and that employers are understanding the urgency and need for deploying IC within their companies. Companies that effectively utilize IC are able to create transparency, provide feedback and follow up, and better engage employees across platforms and throughout the workplace. We expect to see a similar positive trend in future years, as more employers come to recognize the importance of deploying communications tools.

On a more granular level, we saw a slight increase in awareness around IC’s effects: This year, 93 percent of employers found IC to be highly or extremely impactful to building a strong company culture, up from 80 percent (already a significant number of respondents). Employees really do want to know what’s happening in their company, and more employers are coming around to the fact that providing accessible information truly does improve engagement with the company and the brand.

In the same vein, we saw a significant increase in the number of employers who believe their own company’s IC is doing a good job of motivating and engaging employees. The shift from 40 percent (last year) to 60 percent (this year) of employers who have confidence in their company’s engagement as a result of IC may be related to the fact that more companies are using IC in general or are specifically deploying better, more accessible solutions.

That said, there are still areas for improvement. There’s another 40 percent of employers who feel that their IC isn’t doing a good job of motivating employees, and, overall, employers gave a 3.6 average rating to their IC’s ability to bring them closer to their team and extended coworkers. So while we can look at the positive numbers and celebrate the increases this year, we can also put that into perspective and see that there is still work to do.

One of the areas that can help employers with engagement is content and content planning. At the end of the day, an IC solution is only as good as the content and communications actually being deployed. Last year, 70 percent of employers were moderately to extremely unsatisfied with their content planning — but this year, just over half expressed satisfaction with their company’s IC content. This may be due to better resources available to help companies with content planning or with education around effective content creation.

In terms of content, employers rated internal events as the most effective type of communication. This is unchanged from last year, and it probably reflects the fact that internal events will always be the most pertinent, actionable, and relevant updates that employees receive day-to-day.

Interestingly, employee recognition moved up to the second place spot this year, overcoming company news in terms of success ratings. Employers can use this trend for planning content that will better engage their employees (and also possibly increase retention): publicly recognizing employees is effective, so regular and sincere forms of employee recognition can and should be a part of your content strategy!

This year, we asked a new question about content use and preference in order to get a better idea of what kinds of content employers are using — and whether employees actually feel engaged with those content types.

As expected 100 percent of employers used email, but only 87 percent of employees found it useful. That means that 13 percent of employees are not getting content on their preferred channels. There’s almost parity between the percent of companies that use intranet (45) and the percent of employees that prefer that form of communication (38). While these older and more established methods of communication were two of the most used and most preferred, we did see some surprising data around newer platforms for digital communications:

For mobile apps, lobby media walls, and break room screens, we actually saw a higher percentage of employees that prefer these methods of communication than companies that were using them! This means that companies are missing out on ways to engage employees that would increase and improve transparency, effective dissemination of communications, and accessibility. (Media walls and break room screens are also a great way to make sure that employee recognition gets the attention it deserves, and mobile apps might be a better way to capture the 13 percent of employees who no longer prefer to use email to learn about company news and internal events!)

We’re excited to continue following this data next year to see how IC platforms and media change to keep up with employee preference.

As workplaces trend toward more connectivity, there will be a need for more effective and intelligent approaches to internal communications. We look forward to seeing these trends reveal themselves in next year’s survey.

Download your copy of this year’s IC Survey here.