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What 2014 holds for Internal Communications

This is the follow up to last years guide to Internal Communication trends. This years guide outlines 4 main areas that we think are going to be key in 2014, along with sub themes and a wealth of hints and tips. We hope it is of benefit, and brings you success with your 2014 internal communications!

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What 2014 holds for Internal Communications

  4. 4. 01 A key trend for EXTERNAL communications in 2014 will be organisations taking a mobile first approach. And with the ever blurring of lines between external and internal communications, mobile is a trend that looks set to filter into the internal communications world too. In addition, popularity of mobile in internal communications will further grow as a result of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement. BYOD was a key trend we identified in our 2013 trend guide – which you can read more about here. MOBILE DEVICES 1.1
  5. 5. 01 MOBILE DEVICES In turn, mobile will continue to fuel three other trends from last years guide – VIDEO: Mobile video is exploding. Faster (4G) mobile internet connections are fuelling on-the-go video habits, with many using their smartphones to consume videos they had planned to watch beforehand. (Linked to the above point). We all know smartphones are often used to relieve boredom or fill time, and it’s videos that are regularly turned to (Often discovered in social networks and emails). Take advantage of this. Younger audiences have mobile video habits, which are entering the workplace. Organisations must tailor communications accordingly. Worth knowing is that for smartphone video – most sessions are short. Only 40 percent of smartphone video sessions globally are over ten minutes in length, according to Ooyala, a global digital video streaming platform. And “The vast majority of people are still snacking on video with their smartphones,” says Oovala CEO, Bismarck Lepe. Lepe also forecasts video consumption on smartphones will surge by a factor of 10 in the next five years. We all know combined visual and audio communications (videos) are the most effective. And now mobile will become even more of a key channel for internal communications to use to exploit this. 1.2
  6. 6. 01 MOBILE DEVICES DIGITAL PUBLISHING: B2B and internal digital publishing has not seen the same speed of adoption as digital publishing in the consumer world. But it will. Organisations are looking to reduce internal publishing (print) costs and are aiming to take advantage of the growing adoption of tablets/smartphones in the workplace. Therefore digital publishing is the answer. As well as cost reduction, there are a huge number of benefits to digital publishing, for both the organisation and its employees. You can read more about them here in our 2013 guide. 1.3
  7. 7. 01 1.4 MOBILE DEVICES CORPORATE APP STORES Again, as we made reference to in our 2013 guide, it is predicted (Forrester) that by 2015 about half of the devices on a corporate network will be mobile. And with the users of the mobile devices using apps, it is imperative organisations have systems in place to manage app usage. In 2014, we think companies should take app management a step further, by focusing on creating more of their own apps. Allowing them to benefit from: Greater control Apps that meet specific client needs Greater productivity Increased security
  8. 8. 01 MOBILE DEVICES GIVEN THE MOBILE TREND… It is strongly suggested: 1. Employers encourage employees to bring their own devices to work. 2. Employers train employees on BYOD best practice. To maximise productivity To minimise risk Clearly the adoption of mobile devices in the workplace will create a more flexible team of employees - One that will rely on strong virtual networks, apps, video conferencing and other digital technologies to help build a digital workforce. Internal communications will not only shape and manage the change but will then be required to make best use of the new channels. But of course, the digital workplace of the future does pose some threats to the organisation... 1.5
  10. 10. 02 2.1 THE LEAKING DIGITAL WORKPLACE The changing digital workplace has resulted in greater amounts of sensitive company data being placed on physical storage devices, housed in the cloud and on servers, and made accessible through social networks, intranets and on smart phones/tablets. While of course this brings clear advantages, it also means organisations are increasingly vulnerable to system failures, data losses and cyber attacks. “ “ For the sixth consecutive year, the cost of lost or stolen information has continued to rise, with the average organisational cost to a business suffering a data breach now £2.04m (2012), up from £1.75m in the previous year. (2013 Cost of Data Breach Study by Symantec and the Ponemon Institute)
  11. 11. 02 Businesses are of course, trying to address the rising problem. Last year alone, worldwide organisations spent $114 billion trying to stem the data breach tide, with many businesses investing entirely in security technology. Yet employee negligence continues to be the most common cause of data loss. THE LEAKING DIGITAL WORKPLACE Human factor 37% Malicious or criminal attack 34% Examples of employee behaviour putting company information at risk includes: Using weak and unsafe passwords Opening suspicious emails or attachments Leaving laptops/smartphones unguarded Publishing unapproved information on social networks Storing unencrypted information on memory sticks System glitch 29% 2.2
  12. 12. 02 Clearly, to reduce information breaches, it’s crucial organisations build a security-conscious corporate culture. Beginning with a strategic internal communication campaign. The following is a snap shot of the methodology we used to help one of the worlds largest organisation cultivate a security conscious culture. THE LEAKING DIGITAL WORKPLACE 2.3
  13. 13. 02 RESEARCH Firstly, undertake in-depth research (surveys, focus groups etc.) to identify the types of employee behaviour that is placing company information at risk and the reasons as to why employees are undertaking the behaviours. Surveys should then be routinely carried out to help inform the behaviours that require greater attention (changes to the communications). Surveys must also act as benchmarks, against which future behaviour change can be measured. THE LEAKING DIGITAL WORKPLACE 2.4
  14. 14. 02 THE LEAKING DIGITAL WORKPLACE RAISE AWARENESS The goal here is to make employees aware of the threats data breaches pose. These communications ideally need to be ‘shocking’ and focus on the consequences of incorrect behaviour for both the organisation and the employee. Real life examples/scenarios are particularly effective, especially when tailored to the environment the employees operate in. Video proved to be a very successful medium to employ. 2.5
  15. 15. 02 EDUCATE EMPLOYEES Toolkits (based on the behaviours identified in the initial research) should be supplied to leaders, so that they are equipped with the right information to educate employees. It’s important that once the information has cascaded down from the leaders, it is further spread through the organisation by employees, who become ‘sharers’ or ‘champions’. They help facilitate two way dialogue, creating bottom up communications. Given that Information Risk Management (IRM) is a dry subject area and one that is somewhat shrouded in mystery to the employee, it’s imperative that an open dialogue is encouraged using dynamic language, in order to make the topic more interesting, clear and engaging. THE LEAKING DIGITAL WORKPLACE 2.6
  16. 16. 02 THE LEAKING DIGITAL WORKPLACE TRAINING New behaviour has to be practiced in order to be adopted, and spotting information risks is a skill that improves greatly with experience. However, due to the nature of IRM, it’s not something you can easily practice in the real world. We created a suite of digital games that allowed us to replicate real world situations in a virtual environment. The games provided interaction with the campaign messages, meaning the behaviour demonstrated in the gameplay was likely to be transferred to real life situations. The games also added more excitement, making the dry topic more appealing, and changing the way IRM was discussed. RIGHT It’s important that communications have an interactive element, which require the employee to make a decision. This is because IRM simply boils down to the employee either making the right or wrong choice. WRONG 2.7
  17. 17. 02 THE LEAKING DIGITAL WORKPLACE RISK MANAGEMENT PROCESSES Of course, humans make errors. So it will never be possible for an organisation to completely eradicate data leaks. Given this, as well as training employees on how to spot and stop data leaks, employees must be trained on how to respond when a data leak occurs. Creating a set of business processes for employees to follow in the event of a data leak is crucial. Often, by following the correct processes employees can significantly reduce (if not eliminate) the threat a data leak holds. 2.8
  18. 18. 02 CONCLUSION Creating a security-conscious corporate culture is not something that can be achieved after a single internal communications campaign. Culture has to be continually cultivated. It is therefore important that employees are constantly engaged with IRM, so that the behaviour becomes second nature. The costs of potential data leaks far outweigh the costs involved in achieving a security-conscious culture. THE LEAKING DIGITAL WORKPLACE 2.9
  20. 20. “ THE CHANGING ROLE OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATORS The hierarchies of old are being replaced by more trusted peer-to-peer, horizontal networks of trust (2013 Edelman Trust Barometer) “ 03 Of course, we all know what the above quote is referring to – Internal corporate social networks... Some internal communicators worry that the arrival of social networks could ultimately see their role becoming redundant (arguably a reason as to why adoption of internal social networks has been slower than expected). We feel this couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s no doubt the role of an internal communicator will be affected by social networks, but it will be very much for the better.   The following are four ways in which we envisage the role of an internal communicator evolving: 3.1
  21. 21. 03 THE CHANGING ROLE OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATORS COMMUNITY MANAGERS Clearly, social networks open up communications, allowing everyone’s voice to be heard. But without proper control and direction there is a risk a chaotic situation of noise could ensue, or worse, absolute silence.   It is therefore crucial the conversations being encouraged and held are in line with business strategy and are of value – This will become the responsibility of internal communicators, and so they will become community managers.   As community managers they will (amongst other things): Moderate and govern the conversations taking place. Segment and target specific audiences to hold conversations with. Create relevant content to share. Identify the influencers on specific topics. Measure, analyze and report on the content being shared. 3.2
  22. 22. 03 THE CHANGING ROLE OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATORS IC PRO’S WILL BECOME THE FACE OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS Gone will be the days when internal communicators just simply supported and remained unnoticed behind the spokespeople in the organisation.   Internal communicators will become the people that tell the corporate stories and who employees hold conversations with. They will become visible leaders. 3.3
  23. 23. 03 THE CHANGING ROLE OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATORS TEACHING LEADERS Internal communicators will be crucial to the widespread adoption of social networks. They will educate and train leaders on how to use the new platforms and generally manage the change and transition towards a social workplace.   However, something we’ve noticed first hand is that the ability of leaders and managers to engage their immediate staff on strategic business decisions is diminishing – Largely because the demands of their core responsibilities mean they have to sacrifice their leadership duties. And although social networks will help, it is not the magic answer. Internal communicators will need to change the way they train and engage with leaders, as the direct communication channel between managers and their staff is a vital one in achieving business results. You can find a great piece on this subject from Melcrum, here. 3.4
  24. 24. 03 THE CHANGING ROLE OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATORS CLOSER LINK TO EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT Employee engagement is something that many have thought resides solely in the HR department. But good communication equals good engagement. It is as simple as that. And so internal communicators have for a long time been involved in employee engagement.   But now that internal communications, with the help of social networks, are moving beyond merely broadcasting company information, to holding conversations with employees, it means employee engagement will become a crucial element of an internal communicators role.   Is 2014 finally the year of employee engagement? That’s something we’ll look at in the next section… 3.5
  25. 25. 03 THE CHANGING ROLE OF INTERNAL COMMUNICATORS CONCLUSION We hear a lot of talk of organisations cutting back on internal communications. While this may be true, we’re finding that companies are simply ensuring that there is a business case for all internal communications, something we think is of vital importance.   Internal communications are therefore going to become far more aligned with business strategy and will need to be of real value. In turn, this means measurement of the value of internal comms is going to be essential – Meaning the internal communicators role is to become even more strategic and analytical.   Again, internal social networks will help. They can identify the conversations that need to be held and the types of content that needs to be created.   Plus, factors such as the number of likes, shares, comments, and views of content, are great KPI’s that can be measured on social networks.   Hopefully, it’s clear that the future role of an internal communicator is set to be an exciting one. 3.6
  27. 27. 04 EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT With global economic growth, talent is once again regaining some power. This means people have greater opportunities in the job market, and so are more likely to change jobs. As such, organisations are focusing more on employee retention and engagement, and less so on reducing costs through job cuts. Plus, organisations are finally understanding how much of a benefit to their business an engaged employee is. Therefore it’s no surprise that once again, this year is being touted as the year of employee engagement. Internal communications are becoming more involved in driving employee engagement. The following are five areas that internal communicators need to give attention to in order to improve employee engagement levels. 4.1
  28. 28. 04 EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT 1. FOCUS ON MANAGERS We’re big believers in that management helps shape culture, and culture plays a big part in employee engagement. More specifically it is the employees direct relationship(s) with their manager(s) that greatly effects their engagement levels. Therefore it’s crucial that managers are coached on how best to engage their immediate employees. Managers then need to be held accountable to ensure they are implementing their new learning’s, with successes recognised. But it’s not just managers who require recognition… 4.2
  29. 29. 04 EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT 2. CULTURE OF RECOGNITION Employees cite poor communication as a reason for disengagement at work, with many claiming they are unaware of the missions and goals of the organisation, and that they’re also left in the dark on how the role they are undertaking is helping the organisation to achieve the mission and goals. Research shows that employees want a social business. One in which they are informed on the direction the company is taking, and where they can have a say in the direction too. While of course a social network will help with this, for the social network to be a success, it must be social up and down the hierarchy, not just across it. That way employees can interact with senior leaders on strategy and get direct feedback from them. It’s the feedback (recognition) that is the crucial element. Also, whether it be direct feedback from their manager on a job well done, additional training resources that recognise their needs for career development, or improvements to their working environment. Recognition is a huge driver of employee engagement, and often recognition simply comes down to effective communication. Internal communicators need to cultivate a culture of recognition. FEED BACK 4.3
  30. 30. 04 EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT 3. GAMIFICATION Linked very closely to recognition is gamification. And believe us, we’re getting a bit sick of this buzzword word too. But gamification is going to be a key element of the future of work, and so one that can’t be ignored. We all now know that gamification is about redesigning everyday activities to be a more game like, interactive experience. And while gamification should first and foremost focus on the design of the game like experience. A key element of gamification is rewards/recognition. Social recognition and kudos amongst peers is the ultimate form of reward. But more tangible rewards, such as away days, bonuses, or prizes can also be used, although they aren’t as effective in achieving high employee engagement levels. Plus, awards should be continually changed so that employees do not get bored, and so are continually engaged. Gamification is something that all internal communicators need to consider for such things as employee training, awareness programs, and in general for successful internal collaboration. 4.4
  31. 31. 04 4. EMPLOYEE AMBASSADORS Internal communicators will use employee ambassadors to firstly help disseminate internal communications, and secondly to encourage them to further develop the conversations around the communications. Ambassador programs also allow employees to become more involved in organisational strategy and are great for employee career development (another key factor in employee engagement). Measurement and targeting will be important here, as for certain communications, internal communicators will look to recruit influencers, and in particular, influencers within a specific segment. EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT 4.5
  32. 32. 04 5. MEASUREMENT Gone will be the days of the annual employee engagement survey. Employee engagement levels should be monitored continuously, across a range of different areas, largely through online tools. Measurement must show improvements in employee engagement that are correlated to business performance improvements. Financial performance, retention, absenteeism, and customer engagement levels are all metrics that employee engagement levels can be tracked against. The results of employee engagement measurement will help inform internal communication strategy (i.e. targeting of ambassadors), and will also provide evidence to the stakeholders of the value of employee engagement (and internal communications) to the business. It’s important internal communicators communicate the results, in order for future action to be planned and put in place, to continually enhance employee engagement. Identifying the correct tools for measuring engagement is fundamental to knowing how to drive engagement levels. EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT 4.6
  33. 33. CONCLUSION Thank you for reading our guide on what we predict will be the key internal communication trends for 2014. We hope it will be of benefit to you. If there is anything you would like to discuss further, or any internal communication projects you would like our help with, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can keep up to date with all of our thinking here. And by following us on Twitter @rima_design and on LinkedIn. Here’s to an amazing 2014 for internal communications! We’re a 25 year old independent design agency who specialise in corporate and internal communications. We work with a number of large corporate clients and for a couple of them we are also responsible for their in-house design function. To find out a bit more about us then simply take a look at our website or get in touch. THANKS! About us… | Tel: +44 (0) 207 902 1310 HTTP://WWW.RIMADESIGN.COM/BLOG HTTPS://TWITTER.COM/RIMA_DESIGN HTTP://WWW.LINKEDIN.COM/COMPANY/RIMA-DESIGN/
  34. 34. REFERENCES • The Changing Role of Internal Communication. • The Changing Role of Internal Communications: —The Experts’ View • Top 10 Internal Communications Trends to Watch for in 2014 • CHART OF THE DAY: Why People Watch Video On Their Smartphones • Trust In Employee Engagement • Five Ways to Improve Employee Engagement Now utm_source=WWW&utm_medium=csm&utm_campaign=syndication#2 • 11 internal communications trends you’d be crazy to ignore crazy_to_47596.aspx# • Have Your People Quit and Stayed? Twelve Factors of Employee Engagement • 8 Technology Trends That Will Impact Business Strategies In 2014 • The Year of the Employee: Predictions For Talent, Leadership, And HR Technology In 2014 • Innovation and Intervention in Manager Communication • Survey reveals the social road to employee engagement • Internal Communications Tools • Employee Engagement, 2014: Gamification, Social Data, and (the Right) Surveys • 3 things your internal communications strategy may be lacking • Three key rules of gamification of the workplace • Best Practices in Assessing Employee Engagement