Change happens. One thing internal communications teams can be assured of as we forge ahead into the new year is more change is coming.
While it’s impossible to predict everything that’s coming to the world of communications in 2019, we can look back at the trends and innovations of recent years and see signs of what’s to come. Here we will make some educated guesses about the next 12 months in the areas of internal communications, company culture and employee engagement.
Here are four things we foresee for 2019:
- More diversity of people and channels.
The US Bureau of Labor statistics predicts that nearly a quarter of workers will be over the age of 55 by 2024 as the retirement age rises. At the same time, Generation Z, the group born in 1997 and later, is starting to enter the workforce. That means five generations of employees—Traditionalists (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1980), Millennials (born 1981-1996) and Generation Z (born after 1997)—are all likely to be working under the same roof.
What does this mean for communicators? An array of people with different learning styles, communication preferences and favored tools. Successful communicators will both diversify and consolidate their channels into those most effective for the target audience, including email, video, social tools like Instagram, in-person, and even print. Developing targeted lists by various demographics and learning styles will help communicators address specific audiences and improve message effectiveness.
As HR Daily Advisor suggests, “Understand the demographics of your workplace as well as employee communication preferences. An annual survey can be used to help identify both differences and similarities between various employee groups.”
- Social proof expands inside out.
Back in June, Forbes contributor John Hall wrote that “people are putting more trust in others they know and reputable content.” Hall’s piece was about external marketing, but it applies to internal communications, too. Employees listen to their peers, and will use those people’s opinions to augment or interpret communications coming from their managers or company executives.
Marketing Insider Group offers this advice: “Employees can and should play an increasing role in [the] effort to build their company’s brand. The creativity, teamwork, and innovation that stem from what’s involved with building a brand are both transformative for the business and its people and effects the company’s culture in an inexorably positive manner.”
In they’re not doing so already, communicators should identify employee advocates and give them platforms to be heard in 2019.
- Mobile expands its reach.
According to the 2018 Ericsson Mobility Report, worldwide total monthly mobile data traffic will grow from 15 exabytes in 2017 to 107 exabytes in 2023. That’s an annual growth rate of 39 percent.
In 2016, CNBC reported that 70 percent of workers keep their mobile devices “within eye contact” at work. Just two years ago, many employers considered the mobile phone to be a distraction, and sometimes it still is, but executives and communicators have come around to the idea that smartphones are an invaluable corporate communications tool.
To be more inclusive and able to reach people in the field, on the factory floor and other non-desk workers, smart companies will be providing all employees with company email addresses.
Smart communicators will focus on mobile responsive email, mobile accessible intranet pages and company apps as effective ways to communicate and connect with employees.
- Privacy concerns.
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation came into effect in 2018 and Facebook in particular came under fire for a number of questionable privacy issues. We continue to wonder and worry about how Facebook and its other social platforms are finding out what ads to serve.
As more privacy laws and more privacy issues are raised in 2019, this will remain an important communications topic, including privacy within organizations. Internal communicators are more likely to look for more secure tools and communication channels that respect employee privacy concerns, and may begin to shy away from using public social tools for any form of internal communications.
What do you foresee for 2019 in internal communications?