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The IC 2023 Index – A summary of stats and findings

IC 2023 Index – A summary of stats and findings

This month, we are dedicating three blogs to the recent IC 2023 Index report. This is the first ever report from the Institute of Internal Communication in partnership with Ipsos Karian and Box, and it includes a deep dive into the thoughts and feelings of UK workers with regards the internal comms they receive. The report’s detailed data is designed to help inform and steer better internal communication strategies for businesses across the country (and, indeed, around the world). We have taken a good look at their findings and will share our own summary of their ground-breaking research along with some of our own views and recommendations, in three palatable servings:

  1. Summary of findings

  2. Driving positive business outcomes

  3. Leaders and internal communication

So, let’s get on with part one: a look at some of the headline stats and key findings from their research.

Their report starts with their seven fundamental insights. These are:

  1. IC teams make a positive difference. Well, that’s a relief! As an organisation that champions the importance of internal communication (and supports businesses to improve theirs), it’s great to hear that what we do is worthwhile! The report reflects that employees value good communication, and that they’re more engaged and less likely to leave when a functioning and effective IC team is in place. Interestingly, they are also more likely to trust what their CEO says.

  2. Cheerleaders outnumber cynics. This is also great news, but it comes with a caveat: “there is still work to do”. 14% of the workforce are what the report calls ‘unconvinced cynics’, who don’t trust senior leaders to do what they say they will, and who “definitely don’t trust the CEO”. Better news is that just over three times that number (44%) are ‘informed cheerleaders’; those who love their job and rate the comms they receive (even if, the report says, they’d be open to getting a bit more!) However, that also leaves another 42% who consider their comms to be mediocre, poor, or insufficient.

  3. We need to talk about strategy. This is vital for boosting engagement. Employees need clarity about how their organisation is performing and what the priorities are. Only 57% of workers said they are clear on their employer’s strategy. 25% neither get it nor believe in it. We’re going to dive more deeply into this topic in another blog series very soon, but it’s clear that there is work to do on getting our people fully informed and on board with our key business strategies.

  4. Time is tight! Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of our people don’t spend much time reading or viewing updates – they “snack rather than binge”, dipping in briefly between meetings. 70% of the survey’s respondents said they spend 15 minutes or less per day on this, underlining the importance of getting those updates succinct but clear, engaging, and authentic.

  5. Senior leaders should make themselves heard. Organisations across the board returned better responses when their senior leaders communicated “directly and authentically on things like strategy”, ideally through remote channels.

  6. Direct managers are trusted, but often don’t communicate enough. 40% of workers want their manager to better inform them about the team’s priorities and goals. This, the report says, is often because the managers in question aren’t confident communicators. Most would like, and benefit from, more guidance from their comms colleagues. One third of line managers said they didn’t “feel equipped to lead conversations about what is happening across their organisation.” (A carefully constructed package of video or slide content can help with this.)

  7. People want to be heard. Unfortunately, too many of our employees don’t believe that their organisations are listening or acting on what is being said. Only just over half said their organisation welcomes open and honest feedback. Even fewer said they’re shown how their feedback informs action. As we have stated a few times on these pages, staff surveys are no longer enough for collecting the views of your people! We’ll be looking into this across three blogs next month.

Keeping employees happy with internal comms

There are also a couple of interesting nuggets of insight buried within the detail.

81% of senior leaders rate internal comms as excellent, whilst only 56% of those without management responsibility said the same.

This demonstrates a concerning difference in the perception of the success of comms, and suggests that relying on a self-assessment process by those at the top is unwise. This is why carrying out a full health check of your comms that surveys a sample from your entire workforce population is so invaluable.

Unsurprisingly, sector and work patterns also play a big factor in overall satisfaction with comms. Part-time employees have a poorer experience than their full-time colleagues. Does your internal comms strategyadequately provide for those on reduced hours? Do they have the means and ways to catch up on information dissemination they may have missed whilst not at work? And whilst IT, finance, banking, and insurance workers top the league table for satisfaction (hello, desk-based people!), workers in manufacturing, retail, distribution, and education have a poorer experience. So, quite simply, please don’t forget about your “non-wired” employees!

Reach your non-wired colleagues with internal comms

To close this instalment, one thing that I found particularly interesting was the adjectives most used by those with different experiences of their internal comms. I think we can all learn a lot from this short list of descriptors in terms of what to do. And what not to!

Words used by those who rate their comms as very poor:

  • Uninspired

  • Unclear

  • Uninformative

  • Uninteresting

  • Meaningless

Words used by those who rate their comms neutrally:

  • Scripted

  • Formal

  • Boring

  • Impersonal

  • Uninspired

Words used by those who rate their comms as excellent:

  • Useful

  • Clear

  • Accessible

  • Informative

  • Trustworthy

One take away for me is that, whilst the difference between poor and mediocre comms can mainly be put down to the basic quality of the written content, the difference between mediocre and excellent also comes down to tone of voice, something that is often overlooked.

In the next blog, we’ll look at what the report said about using internal comms to drive positive business outcomes and advocacy.


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