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What 2015 holds for Internal Communications


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Here is our annual guide to where we think will be this years Internal Communication trends. This years guide outlines 5 main areas that we think are going to be key in 2015, along with sub themes and a wealth of hints and tips. We hope it is of benefit, and brings you success with your 2015 internal communications!

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What 2015 holds for Internal Communications

  2. 2. INTRODUCTION Predicting trends is always difficult, but having looked back on our 2014 predictions, we’re pleased to say, by and large, we weren’t too far from the mark. Perhaps in general just a tad too optimistic! We hope you find our ‘Internal Comms Guide to 2015’ interesting and useful, and we welcome any feedback or questions which you may well have as a result of reading it. It should come as no great surprise that ‘Collaboration’ and ‘The Digital Workplace’ are our key trends this year and the drivers of all the other trends.  It’s why our 2015 trends share some similarities with 2014’s, albeit 2015’s are a significant step forward, representing the year that stands between the two and the quickening pace of change. Thanks
  5. 5. COLLABORATION01 Collaboration gives greater access to the full range of skills, perspectives and thinking within an organisation. It allows work to be completed quicker, often with new insights, so innovation and improved outcomes can occur.  Such things as video conferencing, internal social networks*, apps, and document management and sharing platforms (ie SharePoint) are some of the digital tools and technologies making collaboration far easier. Due to being digital natives, and with a working approach that favours mobility, it is no surprise that millennials are happiest when working in a culture of collaboration. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE MILLENNIALS *Even though building your network on social platforms and interacting with others whilst on it can be labelled as collaboration, true collaboration is when employees actually accomplish and produce something as a result of interacting and working with others. What is fuelling collaborations rise in prominence?
  6. 6. In the past, internal communicators would have been responsible for the majority of communications and messages that employees received. A collaborative culture means no one group/department can be in sole control of the communications within an organisation. As a result internal communicators (IC’s) need to be the one’s who: COLLABORATION01 WHAT ROLE WILL INTERNAL COMMUNICATORS PLAY IN COLLABORATIVE WORKPLACES? Use collaboration platforms and digital tools to share and amplify content, taking the content to where the employees are holding conversations and sharing information. Identify and promote the collaborative and digital tools that are appropriate for the organisation and its employees. Educate, train and advise leaders on new collaborative tools. Collaboration will likely involve a large culture change, and fundamental to a change in culture are leaders.
  7. 7. COLLABORATION01 THE COMMUNICATI0N TEAMS AS ONE There’s no doubt that collaboration will also be seen between the different communication departments – It is definitely welcomed. It has led many to believe that internal and external communications teams should merge together to form one communications department. The merits of an integrated approach are clear, especially due to open, always-on communications brought about through digital. But with the importance of internal communications, and the role of employee ambassadors ever growing, it is perhaps too early for the complete amalgamation of the two communication disciplines. It is something we think more organisations will investigate and try-out, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on the results from such cases. Here’s an example of an integrated approach, from Aegon
  9. 9. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 For years, many organisations have had no real plan or strategy in place when it comes to managing their digital workplace. A lack of strategy combined with such things as BYOD and the uptake and adoption of individual digital tools and technologies, has led to messy, fragmented digital workplaces. It is safe to say that the majority of organisations have not kept pace with the rate of digital change. Moreover, given digital’s ever increasing rate of change, companies are at risk of falling further and further behind. DIGITAL WORKPLACE STRATEGY That’s why in 2015 three key trends will emerge that focus on organisations getting to grips with the digital workplace...
  10. 10. Businesses will need to change their mindset, realising that: ‘ Digital is not only an enabler to be applied to what a business wants to do but a source of innovation and opportunity for what the business could do ’Organisations will take a deeper look at the role digital is playing in their business, but more importantly the role it can play in the future. (Gartner) THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 1. DIGITAL MINDSET
  11. 11. Gaps in digital leadership need to be filled. Clearly digital strategists will be crucial higher up in an organisation, but digital leaders also need to be placed across all business levels. Creation of digital centres of excellence. This is where new thinking and advice is acquired to understand and identify digital opportunities and threats, resulting in the formulation of digital strategies. The success of a digital workplace, once up and running, is arguably down to the talent employed. Organisations need to acquire strong digital talent and then continually develop it. Building on from a change in mindset, organisations in 2015 will need to address the design of their digital workplace by looking at the following: THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 2. DESIGNING THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE
  12. 12. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 3. DIGITAL MEASUREMENT Organisations must establish key success criteria and measurement frameworks for their digital workplace programme (DWP), so that the DWP can demonstrate how it is supporting organisational goals and realising value. This is crucial for the continued investment in the digital workplace and so for widespread adoption and digital transformation of the organisation too. IN 2015 THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE WILL GET SERIOUS
  13. 13. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 DIGITAL SKILLS GAP The digital workplace offers great opportunities for both an organisation and it’s employees, specifically so for improved collaboration. However, at present neither are maximising its full potential… OR BUT WHO IS TO BLAME? ORGANISATIONS? Organisations have a key role to play in ensuring employees know how to get the most value from the tools – value that will ultimately reflect in the organisations bottom line. EMPLOYEES? The truth is that many employees simply do not know how to get the most from digital technologies. Clearly, blame can be attributed to the employees – self-learning and development ultimately falls upon the individual. Yet, given the rise of BYOD, it is evident that employees are actually keen to embrace digital tools in the workplace.
  14. 14. Focus on continually training and educating employees on the digital tools they have at their disposal. Demonstrate the benefits to the employees; Increased productivity, easier access to relevant information, knowledge and skills. Employees will be far more inclined to fully engage with the tools when they know the benefits available to them. Place digital tools and collaboration higher up an organisations list of priorities, so that the structures and processes are put in place to better support employees. Engage with leaders. As with any changes in an organisation, the backing and support from leadership is crucial. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 ORGANISATIONS NEED TO: DIGITAL SKILLS GAP
  15. 15. Invest in professional development. There are many great courses/qualifications now popping up in the area of internal communications, all of which will give particular attention to digital. Whether it’s a masters qualification, industry body qualification, or a short course, there is something to suit every professional. For a long time internal communicators have neglected training and development - in 2015 this will change. Use the organisations available digital channels, even introduce them if needs be. Then become the advisor and the go-to person for all things related to digital communications and collaboration, both internally and externally - the ever blurring of internal and external communications means that internal communicators need to be comfortable with the digital tools that reside in both areas. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 The days of internal communicators seeing new digital technologies as good to know about but not important in their role, are well and truly over. INTERNAL COMMUNICATORS NEED TO: DIGITAL SKILLS GAP
  16. 16. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 BIG DATA ‘The rapid and exponential growth of data that is collected, stored, and analysed to reveal patterns, trends and insights used to make better business decisions’ (SAS). Scale of data being produced Speed of data creation. Analysis of real time streaming data Different forms of data. Social networks, smartphones, sensors etc. Uncertainty of data. VOLUME VELOCITY VARIETY VERACITY IBM is a leading authority on big data and advocates four key characteristics that define it: Big data has been traditionally used as a marketing tool to understand very specifically what the consumer wants - achieved through collecting and analysing data from consumers ever-increasing digital footprints. However due to the digitisation of the workplace, big data holds the same huge potential inside an organisation as it does outside…
  17. 17. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 BIG DATA CAN HELP TO IDENTIFY: Whereas before traditional analytics reported in numbers (viewing figures, engagement levels etc). Big data can give information on the reasons behind the types of engagements, in the form of attitudes and sentiment. ATTITUDES TOWARDS CHANGE: COMMUNICATION PREFERENCES Big data analytics can be used to identify employee’s communication preferences. Both the mediums they prefer to consume content on, and the types of content – subject nature and form. Internal communicators can use this insight to shape communications tailored to specific audiences. Resulting in far more effective communications. Allowing businesses and internal communicators to get a clearer understanding of how employees ACTUALLY feel about planned business or strategy changes, before it is too late.
  18. 18. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 BIG DATA CAN HELP TO IDENTIFY: At present employee ambassadors tend to be the employees who put themselves forward for advertised ambassador / hero / champion roles. As a result self-selected employee ambassadors often don’t have the influence or authority that is required to play a significant part in the campaign they have been recruited for. Big data analytics can identify the employees that have strong influence and authority and who are showing leadership qualities through their online behaviour and interactions, allowing internal communicators to identify key influencers for future use. EMPLOYEE AMBASSADORS TALENT RETENTION: Big data offers businesses the ability to reduce employee turnover and keep their top talent within an organisation. Achieved by using the rich data source (eg social conversations and interactions) to identify what people want and are unhappy with, and then acting on this through communications and change.
  19. 19. Clearly the most important part of big data analytics is working out what the data is actually saying. And so data scientists are crucial in identifying patterns and translating it into actionable insight. Just as important will be the experts in the domains that big data analytics is taking place within. So internal communicators will be needed to ask the questions for big data analytics to provide the answers to. Another key ingredient is leaders who are capable of acting on the data driven insight by: “articulating a compelling vision, persuading people to embrace it and working hard to realise it” (Harvard Business Review). THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 BIG DATA CONSIDERATIONS THE SIMPLE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS THAT DATA- DRIVEN DECISIONS TEND TO BE BETTER DECISIONS. Without question, privacy is a key concern, and must be built in to big data analytics. Which brings us nicely into the next trend – ‘Data Security’…
  20. 20. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 DATA SECURITY This is a trend we gave significant attention to in last years guide. And it would appear rightly so, given that the 2014 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis, revealed that the average cost to a company of a data breach was 15 percent more than last year. While 2014 may have been about organisations increasing their awareness of a need to improve information risk management - particularly so by creating a security conscious culture – 2015 looks set to be when they will act on it. Already in 2015 we’ve been approached by many organisations who are now seeking to implement internal communication campaigns to take the first steps in building a security conscious culture. So we can say from experience that it is looking like information risk management will be an even stronger trend in 2015. You can read more about the methodology we have used in previous information risk management campaigns, here.
  21. 21. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 WEARABLES ...1. A sensor 2. The transmission of the data being recorded by the sensor. 3. Presentation of the data, which should inform actions. In the simplest sense wearables are small electronic devices that users wear, either directly on their body, in their clothing, or on top of their clothing. A wearable is made up of three key components... Unlike a smartphone where users have to stop what they are doing to interact with it, wearables do not require the user to change their behavior, as they can continually interact with it without necessarily knowing. The 6 main categories of wearables are: Glasses, Clothing, Smart Bands, Jewellery, Smart Headgear, and Watches - Within each of these, there are further sub categories.
  22. 22. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 WEARABLES USE CASE: EMPLOYEE WELLBEING & TRAINING A popular way businesses are currently making use of wearables, is by providing their employees with tracking devices in order to monitor their health levels. BP is a good example of this. They offered their employees the use of FitBit, which is used to measure a range of personal health metrics. BP gamified the wearables experience by creating the ‘One-Million Steps Challenge’. It led to employees changing their behaviour in order to maximise the amount of walking they were doing (to amass points), ultimately benefitting their health – Which for BP is great, as amongst other things, it helps to lower healthcare premiums. A report conducted by Virgin Pulse and Human Capital Media Advisory Group, identified why companies are paying more attention to employee well-being in 2015. The employee well-being trend is closely linked to the uptake of wearables in the workplace. View Here
  23. 23. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 Smart glasses allow employees to undertake training in an interactive, involved way - ‘Learning as you do’ is very effective. Plus it gives managers the ability to view and measure how employees are doing during their training program. EMPLOYEE TRAINING & PROGRESS There are now also smartwatch apps that allow managers to track the progress of emloyee set goals and objectives, at all times. You can read more about this here.
  24. 24. THE DIGITAL WORKPLACE02 FURTHER POTENTIAL USES OF WEARABLES Now is the time to reconsider how work could be improved through the use of a wearable device. It’s important to always remember that wearables are a completely new technology, and not just an extension of the smartphone - So you must think beyond the capabilities of a smartphone. Logistics is another area where wearables are a great fit. For example, warehouse pickers can be directed straight to a product, or the tracking of machinery and operations can be analysed to look for advancements in efficiency. Employees who have customer-facing roles can be much better equipped for communication. They can immediately understand all of the customer’s vitals, and access requested information immediately. A great example of this can be seen here, from Virgin, who equipped some of their cabin crew with Google Glass. Employees working in manufacturing or engineering roles can have information displayed to them on a wearable. This offers huge benefits for the safety and productivity of the employee. An example of this can be seen here.
  26. 26. MOBILE FIRST STRATEGY03 MOBILE FIRST STRATEGY No matter where an employee is located, businesses can push information and communicate simultaneously and instantaneously with them. The main reason for a mobile first strategy is to make things easier for employees. Technological/ digital advancements in the consumer world have made peoples lives much easier in terms of communicating, collaborating and carrying out specific tasks. People now expect and demand a ‘consumer like’ experience in the workplace – You’ve only got to look at the rise of BYOD as proof of that. (IBM)
  27. 27. MOBILE FIRST STRATEGY03 At present, organisations think they are satisfying employee demands by simply connecting BYOD devices to the corporate network and business tasks, as more of a bolt-on to existing processes, and so very much as an afterthought - often only making a small improvement to the lives of their employees. The aforementioned, relates to the first of the three stages of enterprise mobility below. MOBILE FIRST STRATEGY Further reading: What internal communicators should be doing in each stage, can be found here. Stage 1: Opportunistic. Simply reacting to the needs/requests of specific employees. What ensues can be a fragmented (messy) approach to mobile, due to no set procedures/structures in place and different teams using different suppliers. Stage 2: Strategic Mobility. Attention is now given to satisfying the mobile needs of larger groups, for example by designing a mobile version of the company intranet. Also, guidelines and procedures are put in place, allowing for a more uniformed approach when creating mobile experiences. Stage 3: Mobile first. Everything created by the company is done so for mobile first, with every other channel coming second.
  28. 28. MOBILE FIRST STRATEGY03 VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS WILL GROW IN IMPORTANCE INFOGRAPHICS VIDEOS PHOTOS MEMES When designing content for mobile first, there needs to be a greater focus on shorter more visual pieces of communication – As employees will look to consume (snack) content quickly on mobiles. Videos, infographics, memes/ photos, and data visualisations are all great to use. The goal is to provide employees with easy to consume regular pieces of content. They are then likely to take in a lot more company information over time.
  30. 30. EMPLOYEE AMBASSADORS04 EMPLOYEE AMBASSADORS Employee ambassador programs will be a key area of focus in 2015 for organisations, in two main ways: Some organisations have much more effective employee brand ambassador programs than others, but it can be said we are now on the verge of all employee ambassador programs reaching their full potential, due to a number of factors, which include: Social media Demand for organisations to be transparent and authentic Employees seen as a trusted source by both fellow employees and customers.
  31. 31. EMPLOYEE AMBASSADORS04 1. INTERNAL EMPLOYEE AMBASSADORS The main issue with employee ambassador programs in the past has been that often ambassadors are self- selected and so their level of influence and ultimately use, is perhaps, at best, questionable. In 2015, organisations need to move beyond relying solely on self selection when it comes to recruiting ambassadors. Social media is an important tool here, and so companies that have existing and well used social platforms in place, have an advantage. Companies should use social media to identify the employees who are skilled in using it, and have a degree of social reputation (clout) and influence. Think of brands in the consumer world who reach out to influencers. These influencers will have built strong sizeable networks, have a good understanding of the social platforms and what interests and engages their audience, and so are great to use for amplification - Those are the characteristics organisations need to look for in employee ambassadors.
  32. 32. EMPLOYEE AMBASSADORS04 2. EXTERNAL EMPLOYEE AMBASSADORS Given the above, in 2015, organisations will place more emphasis on employees as brand advocates. They will do so by letting employees out into the social world (with guidance), and by involving them in more controlled communications – marketing, advertising, recruitment etc. The use of employee ambassadors/advocates allows an organisation: To be seen as a more open, authentic and trusted brand. To achieve added brand exposure, generated from employees using their own digital assets and networks. To improve recruitment and retention. Employees are not only seen as the most trusted source of information within a company, they are also seen as the most trusted company representative to those outside of the organisation too. (2014 Edelman Trust Barometer)
  33. 33. EMPLOYEE AMBASSADORS04 IT IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER THAT... EMPLOYEE ADVOCACY CAN NOT BE FORCED OR FAKED. Internal communicators will play a key role in supporting employee brand ambassadors / advocates. One way they will do so will be to ensure employees have access to content they are able to share. This content must be inline with the organisations brand and goals, it must be worthy of sharing, and must provide value to the sharer and the audience they will be sharing it with.
  34. 34. 06LEADERSHIP
  35. 35. LEADERSHIP05 Communications of old used to be about pushing messages down from the top in a very controlled manner. Clearly this was due to the hierarchical structure of an organisation. LEADERSHIP Organisations are becoming more open, and a bottom-up approach to internal communications is rising in prominence. But for most organisations, an element of hierarchy will likely always exist. It should clearly still fall upon the IC’s to be the one’s to bridge any hierarchical levels. But, rather than just being seen as those who help push the messages from the top to the bottom, IC’s need to act more as advisors, connectors and facilitators of communication, it they are to ensure future success in their role.
  36. 36. It is up to IC leaders to ensure business leaders are aware of the importance of communicating directly with individual employees to acknowledge their role and achievements. To point out, given all the talk of the shift to digital communications in the workplace, face to face communications will always remain the most effective form of communication in terms of boosting employee engagement. A fact all leaders should remember. LEADERSHIP05 ADVISORS & CONNECTORS Advising employees, leaders and departments on the use of digital tools and technologies; becoming the ‘go-to person’ for guidance on how to use the digital workplace to improve communication, collaboration and productivity. IC leaders need to be: Helping to connect employees of all levels to one another. Connecting employees to company content - so that they feel connected with the strategy and goals of the organisation. Connecting employees with a purpose – so that they know the role they are playing in helping the organisation to achieve its goals.
  37. 37. LEADERSHIP05 FACILITATORS Engage and collaborate with everyone throughout the organisation. Build their own communities and networks around specific topics. Create and share their own content within the organisation. All of which will require facilitation from the IC leader, to not only ensure all activity remains in line with the culture, strategy and goals of the organisation, but to help fuel and drive it further. Arguably the most important part of the IC leaders role in the digital workplace, will be acting as a facilitator. Employees will be empowered to:
  38. 38. CONCLUSION We hope you found our guide to 2015’s internal communication trends helpful. You can keep up to date with all of our internal communications thinking at our blog ( and on our social channels: Twitter @rima_design And LinkedIn It would be great to know what you thought about our 2015 trends. And of course, if you’d like any further info or help on any of the topics covered then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. THANKS! We’re a 27 year old independent design agency who specialise in corporate and internal communications. We work with a number of large corporate clients and for some we are also responsible for their in-house creative function. To find out a bit more about us then simply take a look at our website or get in touch. About us… | Tel: +44 (0) 207 902 1310
  39. 39. REFERENCES • Aegon abolishes internal comms team for integrated comms approach. • Report: employee engagement, retention, and well-being are top priorities for executives and HR managers in 2015 Virgin Pulse Report. • A smartwatch app that lets your boss track you constantly. • BMW testing Google Glass eyewear for its factory technians and engineers. engineers. • Virgin Atlantic launches Google Glass pilot scheme. scheme.html • 8 things to think about when measuring Digital Workplace performance. • Gartner Says the Business Consumer Requires a Digital Workplace. • What Are the Required Skills for Today’s Digital Workforce? • The four V’s of Big Data • BP wellness program Medical-Program/How-the-BP-Medical-Program-works/Health-Savings-OOA-Option-summary-chart/ BP-Wellness-Program.aspx#Section_2 • A Three-Step Strategic Approach for CIOs. First_A_3_Step_Strategic_Approach_for_CIOs.pdf • 2014 Edelman Trust Barometer • Designing the digital workplace. • What Is Collaboration in the Workplace? - Definition, Benefits & Examples. html. • Four Ways Social Employment Brand Ambassadors Can Benefit Your Company Ambassadors-Can-Benefit-Your-Company. • Gartner identifies six key steps to build a successful digital business. six-key-steps-build-successful-digital-business. • 2014 Cost of Data Breach Study.