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Are We Headed Toward a Perfect Storm in Workforce Communications?

Posted by EmployeeChannel on 12.14.2017


We previously examined the high cost of poor employee communication. Despite the cost, however, many companies continue to bear, or at least to risk, the high cost of ineffective communication. 

But what may have once been tolerable is likely to become financially and operationally intolerable as the workforce continues to reshape itself.

By 2020, the workforce will be vastly different from past workforces, and communication requirements will differ greatly as a result.

  • Millennials will be the highest percentage of employees in the workforce. More than any other generation, millennials demand communication that is open and transparent—communication that enables them to see the “big picture” and that explains the “why” of what they’re working on.
  • Fifty percent of the workforce will work remotely and take advantage of flexible hours. While numerous reports suggest a remote workforce will increase productivity and engagement, the barriers of time and distance will place a much heavier burden on the organization to get communications right.
  • Workers will do more of their work from mobile devices. 77 percent of workers from all generations are positive about doing work from a mobile device; however, 42 percent say their employer is only adequate in their approach to mobile technology. And 87 percent of employees would use a mobile app for employee communication if their organization provided one.

More importantly, the time that an organization has to connect and communicate with its workforce will continue to shorten dramatically.

To address the communication requirements of this shifting workforce, organizations will need to:

  1. Automate one of the most unstructured, ad hoc business processes in the enterprise—employee communication. Organizations will need to develop a systematic way to plan, develop, deliver, measure, and improve internal communications in the same way they have developed highly automated solutions for external communications.
  2. Provide coaching/training to improve the communication skills of line managers. One of the most often cited causes of poor communication is a lack of communication skills, specifically writing skills, in line managers who are the most trusted source of information for most employees. The organization’s reliance on this potential single point of failure demands that we better arm managers with the tools and skills to be effective communicators.
  3. Develop a clear understanding of employee engagement through communication analysis. Organizations can no longer rely solely on aggregated survey data to understand employees, but must use communication analytics to understand who the effective communicators are, what messages are most effective, how employees are responding to communications, and much more.  
  4. Re-instrument employee communication with fit-to-purpose channels of communication. Contemporary communication strategies demand that organizations use multiple channels, both digital and traditional, to reach employees.  In turn, organizations must maximize the purpose and performance of each channel, paying particular attention to an increasingly preferred channel—the mobile phone.

By addressing these areas, organizations will move from a world of costly, ad hoc communications to a world of strategic communications tied to business initiatives, effective communicators, and engaged employees.

Topics: employee communications, workplace communication

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