Internal communications: For years it was relegated to a tiny part of the marketing department (and budget) and seen as a couple emails a year. However, as the workforce has changed, so has the way they want to be communicated to. They want to feel informed about their company. They want to feel invested in their work. And they want to be more than just another employee.

Because of the shifts in generations and technology in the workforce today, internal communications is now a hot topic among both marketers and business leaders alike. To underscore internal communication’s importance and understand its impact, Bambu surveyed 1,000 people about how they feel about their company’s current communication practices. Here are the results.

  • 4 in 5 people think effective internal communications helps their job performance.
  • 29% of people say their company’s current method of internal communication isn’t working.
  • 3 in 5 people want their employer to keep them informed so they can share company news with others. 

Shifting Communication to Encourage Engagement 

According to those surveyed, 1 in 5 people do not feel like they’re fully informed about company news. That number increases to 1 in 4 for Millennials, the youngest generation of the adult workforce, making it clear that the way companies communicate with their workforce needs to shift as the demographic makeup of employees change. 

Businesses are missing a huge opportunity here to connect with and engage their employees. A whopping 80% of people want their employer to keep them updated about company news and happenings.

Company News Pie Chart

Why? Because when they’re informed, 77% said it would help them at their job and 66% said it helps them build better relationships with their colleagues. Additionally, 63% said that it would help them become an advocate for the business and tell others about their company.

Reasons Why Chart

Strategy Suggestion

If 20% of your workforce doesn’t have information that could help their job performance, interpersonal relationships and sharing on behalf of your brand, you’re missing a huge opportunity to boost employee productivity, engagement and advocacy. Employees who feel out of the loop aren’t likely to invest their time in your company long-term—and turnover can be costly. Ensure that your internal communications are happening through the right channels and at the right times to reach all of your employees, whether they’re based in your HQ or working out in the field. A centralized platform that employees can access for all company news is crucial, but remember to provide regular encouragement or reasons for them to sign in and learn what’s new.

Authenticity Matters—Especially to Millennial Employees

Just as the communications landscape has changed, so has the workforce. Millennials are the first digital native generation in the adult workforce, and they have higher expectations when it comes to open, authentic communication.

Perhaps this is one reason why Millennials are given to changing jobs more frequently than their older counterparts: Not only do 1 in 4 members of this generation feel their company’s internal communications practices aren’t working, but 30% say it’s because the communication feels self-serving or dishonest, compared to 21% of their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts.

Millenials Chart

Furthermore, information overload is a particular concern for Millennials. Of respondents in this generation, 45% say that important information gets buried by too much other information—compare that to just 31% of their older counterparts.

Strategy Suggestion

Look at your internal audience in the same way you’d segment and target an external marketing campaign. By digging into the makeup of your employee audience, you’ll gain better insight into their communication and channel preferences to understand what they need to feel informed and engaged. If your employee base includes a large Millennial contingent, understand that your communications approach needs to change with the times and meet them on the platforms—and with the transparency—that they’re already invested in.

Choose the Right Message for the Right Platform

Every business has its own set of communication channels, from email to company meetings to chat platforms. But when it comes to internal communications, companies have historically communicated from the top down.

Internal Comms Channels

Today, 53% of employers use regular, in-person meetings to communicate company news, followed by one-off emails or email digests (48%). While face-to-face meetings offer a personal touch, they aren’t the most scalable solution for a growing workforce—and company-wide emails often serve as blanket communications without audience segmentation and targeting. Consider how you can communicate in an authentic, personalized way to scale effective communication without the logistical and resource requirements of constantly sitting in meetings.
 
While employers and their teams both expressed a preference for meetings and email communications, employees expressed a greater desire for an internal, online hub for all company news—that’s where roughly 2 in 5 people say they want to receive company news, but right now, only 1 in 3 employers deliver.

Preferred Internal Comms Channels

Strategy Suggestion

In life and in business, good communication starts with listening. Instead of taking a top-down approach based on the traditional “push” method of internal communications, use data and solicit feedback to pull in ideas for how your team wants to receive information. Knowing that almost two thirds of employees want to receive email communications, determine how you can streamline and improve use of email in a way that delivers specific, relevant information at a regular cadence without requiring a manual process every time.

Employees Can’t Share What They Don’t Know

Informing employees about company happenings, and engaging them with a variety of informative and entertaining content, leads us to the natural extension of internal communications: employee advocacy. The data makes it clear that when a company effectively communicates with their employees, those employees, in turn, have the potential to communicate effectively on behalf of that business. 

An engaged, informed workforce can only positively impact the reach and perception of a brand. In fact, 3 in 5 people said they want their employer to keep them informed so they can share company news with others.

Employees Want Company News

Furthermore, nearly 40% of people said that they’d be likely to share that company news on social media if they were informed of it. Interestingly, men are 20% more likely to share company news on social than women are. By treating internal communications as the foundation for increased brand advocacy, companies can tap into a huge potential impact in terms of brand reach and authority.

However, word-of-mouth can only happen if your employees are well-informed. Advocacy only works if internal communications works, and it is clear that many companies still need work in that area–29% of people say that their employer’s current method of internal communications isn’t working.
 
But this isn’t necessarily from lack of trying: 35% of employees attribute the disconnect to information just getting buried among all the other communication and nearly a quarter of those surveyed just think the communication feels self-serving.

Reasons Internal Comms Not Working

One reason the communication is breaking down could be due to outdated methods of delivery. As discussed above, 53% of companies are still relying heavily on in-person meetings to relay a plethora of information. Furthermore, nearly 30% are still using printed newsletters and 48% are using one-off emails or manually created digests.
 
These methods might have worked in the past, but if you want your employees to do more with that information than read and forget it, you have to deliver the information in a way that facilitates seamless sharing. With the remote workforce expanding across industries, it’s crucial to create foundational communication practices and implement easy-to-use platforms that will grow with your team.

Strategy Suggestion

While an annual conference or regional sales meeting might be a great place to share an exciting announcement, employees will almost always have questions once the initial buzz dies down. Providing more detailed information via a channel with greater longevity and day-to-day relevance for your team—for example, a central online hub or an actionable email—will help cultivate stronger understanding and buy-in across your internal audience. Furthermore, when you have public announcements, encourage employee advocacy by accompanying internal news with an easy way to share like talking points or sample social messages.

About the Data

This survey was conducted by Survata, an independent research firm in San Francisco. Survata interviewed 1000 online respondents between March 31, 2017 and April 03, 2017. Respondents were reached across the Survata publi sher network, where they take a survey to unlock premium content, like articles and ebooks. Respondents received no cash compensation for their participation. More information on Survata's methodology can be found at survata.com/methodology.

For questions about the Index data, please contact pr@sproutsocial.com.