Three actionable ways to stand out as an internal communicator
Are you an internal communicator looking to shake things up and make a real impact in your organization? We asked three IC pros to share radical ideas on how to shine in the internal communications field. Discover their top tips when it comes to making your mark in employee comms.
The unsung heroes of internal comms
Internal communicators are often referred to as the unsung heroes of the enterprise. But the disruption of the last few years has shifted this narrative and flung the profession into the spotlight. When the pandemic hit and global lockdowns forced offices everywhere to close, it was internal communicators that led the charge to keep employees informed, engaged and aligned as the world changed.
What’s followed is a renewed appreciation for the value of internal communications to enterprise success. Today there’s a real opportunity for internal communicators to shine within the organization and take advantage of the spotlight to advance in their careers. So how can communicators seize the moment to make their mark? What are the big challenges they face, and what do the experts think they can do to hold on to momentum and make a real difference to the employees they serve?
"ICs have spent the last 24 months being the main topic of conversation amongst more senior people than before – it’s time to use that. We now have leverage, and can get involved with things we haven’t before. Get involved, be bold, and take your seat at the table."
How to stand out as an internal communicator in 2022
Are you an internal communicator ready to shake things up in 2022? We hosted the hottest panel of IC pros to rain fire on old ideas of corporate comms and support you to be the comms pioneer your business needs. It's time to be bold, take risks, and get results.
Big challenges need bold internal comms
The rules of employee engagement are very different today than they were five years ago. Hybrid working, rising ESG agendas, digital acceleration: internal communicators are being tested to come up with inventive strategies that will fundamentally shape the future of employee engagement.
When asked, many internal comms leads will characterize their strategies as reactive, rather than proactive. So far, the vast majority of employee comms teams have made their way through the disruption of the last few years with good judgement and intuition, but rising challenges are demanding a rewrite of the internal comms playbook. To meet the demands of today’s workforce, internal communicators are under pressure to come up with bold ideas.
Internal communicators face three big challenges:
#1. Disengaged employees – According to Gallup, 2020/21 saw the most significant drop in employee engagement since 2000. Counteracting this will be a focus for internal comms teams everywhere over the coming years.
#2. A lack of capacity in the team – Despite increasing internal comms budgets, internal comms remains understaffed and overburdened as per Gallagher’s State of the Sector 2022 report. Finding creative ways to do more with less remains a big challenge for the years ahead.
#3. A lack of analytics tools and measurement – Continuing to prove the value of internal comms relies on having the right metrics to prove ROI. While new tools are proving valuable, internal comms teams know the numbers only tell half the story.
Assembling the internal comms pros
To help support internal communicators re-strategize, re-align, and shake things up for 2022, Unily’s Product Evangelist, Matt Boyd teamed up with a panel of expert internal communicators to deliver an hour-long panel webinar all about what makes internal communicators stand out.
Featuring Jen Sproul, Chief Executive at the Institute of Internal Communication, Drew Munn - Future Impact Advisor at Gallagher, and Advita Patel, Managing Director at CommsRebel, the panel came together to share radical ideas about how internal comms can truly make their mark this year – and we’ve picked some of their best bits below.
Internal communications trends 2022
In episode 14 of the Unily Podcast we discuss the top internal comms trends of 2022 that IC leaders need to watch out for.
Three ways to shine as an internal communicator
When it comes to making a business impact, sometimes you have to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Here are our panel’s top tips for making a radical change this year.
#1. Be more than a mouthpiece
The traditional function of internal comms is to communicate executive messaging to the wider business in a top-down fashion, but that’s not where internal communicators can offer real business value. Today, the role of internal comms isn’t simply to push out executive messaging but to advise leadership on how to communicate key messages in a way that will support overall engagement.
It’s the job of internal comms to drive employee engagement through effective communication. Our value comes from understanding how to engage with the workforce and crafting a messaging strategy that connects employees to the business vision.
"We shouldn’t be the spokesperson for the organization, we should be guiding our leaders to create a view that aligns with business needs."
If you’re being asked to push out messages that you think will have a negative impact on engagement, it’s your responsibility to communicate that to leadership. Help them to understand how this approach will impact the workforce’s mood and the consequences in terms of retention and productivity.
Stand out internal communicators understand their role as strategic business advisors and engagement custodians. They’re more than a spokesperson for the business, they’re invested in understanding the workforce’s mood and delivering strategic communications that both align with business goals and resonate with employees.
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#2. Ask the scary questions
Internal communicators are the bridge between leadership and employees, and with this comes the advantage of having strong relationships with both sides. Leadership expects internal comms to convey their messages accurately but also in a way that is understood and accepted by their workforce, while employees look to internal communicators to act as their voice in meetings they are not subject to.
Internal communicators then have a responsibility to ask the bold questions. If you don’t understand why you’ve been asked to track a particular metric? Ask. If you don’t understand the purpose of the comms you’ve been asked to push out? Ask. It’s the job of internal communicators to be daring, lead the way, and constantly question that each decision is the right one for both the business and the workforce.
"Ask the questions that people fear to ask. That’s our role as internal communicators. We have the privilege of having a relationship with both employees and leadership. Sometimes people aren’t confident enough to ask what they want to, so internal comms need to be bold enough to ask the questions others are too scared to ask."
How to supercharge your internal comms
In today’s workplace, effective internal communications are vital to business success. Engaged employees are a company’s greatest asset, but with the workplace transforming at pace, the way we communicate must adapt. This comprehensive guide offers a collection of insights to support internal communicators to supercharge their strategy for the future of work.
#3. Ditch the dashboards
For years the topic of measuring engagement and proving internal comms ROI has been a mainstay. This has led to a focus on metrics. Email open rates, survey responses, page views – these data points have helped to build a picture of how engaged employees are, but the reality is that data can be misleading. Just because employees are opening emails, it doesn’t mean the content is resonating with them. Just because they are logging in to the intranet, it doesn’t mean they value the content.
To truly understand and affect employee engagement, internal comms need to refocus efforts on finding and telling the human story. Talking to employees, gaining their trust, and engaging in open dialogues is the best way to really paint a picture of the workforce mood. The best internal communicators will invest in building these relationships with segments of the workforce and then communicating those messages back up the chain.
"Ditch the dashboards and tell the human story. Stop being obsessed with clicks, dashboards and opens. Scrap them for a minute, put them to the side. Find the human story, and match them to the outcomes we want from the business. For example, if you’ve been told you need everyone to understand the new strategy – stop looking at open rates and instead talk to employees and find out. Take story telling upwards, rather than downwards."
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Embrace your internal comms rebel
In today’s reimagined workplace, internal communicators have a real opportunity to affect positive change within the business. A renewed understanding of the importance of employee engagement to business success sets the stage for internal comms to embrace their strategic importance and take an important seat at the table.
The unsung hero narrative is tired, and it’s time for internal communicators to seize the moment and get the recognition they deserve. We could talk forever about the value of internal comms and the tips above are just a few of the ideas for how to make your mark. For the picture, check out the full recording on demand.
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