Last time, we looked at some of the headline stats and key findings from the recent IC 2023 Index report. It’s an outstanding deep dive into the state of internal comms in UK business and contains some really useful insights.
For this sequel blog, we wanted to focus on how the report shows an internal comms function can drive positive business outcomes, advocacy, and overall employee experience.
The report found that 69% of workers in companies with an internal comms function rate the communications they receive as excellent. The same is true for only 37% of those in organisations without one. Aside from signifying that these comms teams are doing their job well, it also shows the worth and value of what they do:
“UK workers are 16 points more engaged on average when they report having an internal communications team.”
- IC Index 2023
To match this, 29% of respondents from organisations with a comms team said they are planning to leave their employer within the next two years, compared with 42% from those without one. And it’s not only loyalty and commitment that benefits. Trust is also boosted by the credibility that an internal comms team brings. Whilst 60% of those in an organisation with a comms team trust the comms they receive from a CEO, that drops to 46% of those without.
We also know that effective internal communication plays a crucial role in driving advocacy at work. It fosters a sense of belonging, engagement, and alignment amongst our people. When our people feel well-informed, connected, and empowered, they are more likely to become advocates for their employer.
Here's a quick Guru top ten of ways that effective internal comms can drive advocacy:
Transparency: Clear and open communication about company goals, strategies, and decisions helps our people to understand the bigger picture and how they fit into it. When they see that their work contributes to the overall success of the organisation, they are not only more motivated to do the work and do it well, but also to advocate for the business as a whole.
Shared Vision: Internal communications can convey a company's mission, vision, and values consistently. When employees understand and resonate with these core principles, they are more likely to become advocates for the company's mission - both within and outside the organisation.
Engagement: Effective communication channels and social collaboration platforms keep employees engaged and connected. Engaged employees are more likely to speak positively about their employer and share their positive experiences with others.
Unified Messaging: Consistency in messaging across different departments and levels of the organisation creates a cohesive brand identity. Employees who understand and align with the company's messaging are more likely to communicate it effectively to external audiences.
Recognition: An internal comms strategy should include ways to highlight employee achievements, contributions, and share success stories. Recognising and celebrating employees' efforts reinforces a positive culture and encourages advocacy by making them feel valued and appreciated.
Two-Way Communication: Effective internal communication encourages feedback and two-way dialogue. When employees feel their opinions are heard and considered, they are more likely to take an active interest in the company's success and advocate for its improvement.
Employee Empowerment: Well-informed employees are empowered employees. When employees are equipped with the right information and resources to do their jobs effectively, they feel more confident in representing the organization and advocating for its products, services, or values.
Change and Crisis Management: During challenging times, transparent and empathetic communication can help maintain trust and loyalty among employees. If our people feel their organisation is handling crises responsibly, they are more likely to advocate for its reputation.
Training and Development: A robust comms policy will also promote learning and development opportunities. When employees see that the company invests in their growth, they are more likely to feel valued and a sense of loyalty.
Employee Advocacy Programmes: Saving the most obvious and self-serving option for last, a good comms strategy can facilitate employee advocacy programmes that actively encourage employees to share company content on their personal social media accounts. This can amplify the company's reach and impact, as well as enhance employees' sense of pride and connection to their employer.
As mentioned last time (and there's a trilogy of blogs to cover the topic in much more detail on its way), effective communication of business strategy is fundamental to driving outcomes and advocacy. The IC Index report reveals that only 45% of UK workers are both clear on their employer’s business strategy and believe that it’s right for them. A quarter of all respondents aren’t clear about it and don’t believe in what they do know! The worst scoring sectors for this were distribution, healthcare and medical, along with organisations with over 10,000 employees. Anyone reading this who believes they may have a workforce with low clarity and/or low belief in their business strategy should take a good look at their comms strategy as a matter of priority!
Finally, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the report shows that employees place greater trust in what they hear from their direct managers than from their CEOs. 65% said they trust the communications they receive from their own manager, versus 54% who trust what they hear from the very top.
Trust in CEOs’ comms dips to its lowest in organisations with no comms team (46%) or in organisations with over 10,000 employees (47%). So, all power to our line managers. Except that the report also found that one third of them don’t “feel equipped to lead conversations about what is happening across their organisation.”
We’ll be looking in more detail at leaders and internal comms in our final blog on this report.