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Three Trends Driving a Paradigm Shift in Employee Communications

Posted by EmployeeChannel on 7.27.2016


Open and personalized communication with your workforce is critical for engaging employees and fostering a workplace tribe. On that same note, employees who trust and find value in the communication process are more satisfied and productive, ultimately providing better service to customers.

When we surveyed a group of HR executives earlier this year, we learned that only 29% are satisfied with current methods of employee communication, and yet more than half (57%) have no companywide budget for it. This fact is alarming considering how critical communications are to overall workplace happiness and the rate at which employee expectations are evolving every year.

In a nutshell, employers must endeavor to modernize their channels of communication and interaction with their workforce, or be left in the dust as their greatest talent move on to more progressive, employee-centric organizations.

What is driving this monumental shift in expectations surrounding employee communication? We have narrowed it down to three major trends.

1.  A Change in Workplace Demographics

The contemporary employee is multi-generational, geographically dispersed, tech-savvy, and accustomed to a high level of workplace flexibility. We’re not just talking Millennials here; professionals of all ages belong to this shifting workforce and demand a change to outdated processes and communication channels. Communications strategies aimed at the more homogenous, desk-bound employee are no longer as effective as they once were.

The contemporary employee demands fresh and relevant methods of communication that reflect the changing workforce. 

2.  The On-Demand Era

We live in an “on-demand” era where (we assume) all information should be fast, easily accessible and customized to our individual needs. 

The rise of live chat support technology is a perfect example of this trend. Many digital consumers prefer to have their questions answered immediately with the ease of a chat module over sending an email (requiring turnaround time) or making a phone call. Perhaps you’ve even been guilty of assuming a company is more legitimate than a competitor if they offer live chat in addition to more traditional support outreach channels. A company utilizing live chat appears to be highly customer-centric and demonstrates it has the infrastructure to support customers in their moment of need. This is a powerful statement.

The workplace is not immune to on-demand culture, especially with regards to an increasingly tech-savvy workforce. An HR department will only be relevant to employees if it can address their overwhelming need for immediate response and on-demand, transparent feedback.

Communication channels must be simple, of immediate use in an employee’s moment of need, and leverage popular, easily understood technologies to be of value or relevance to the contemporary employee.

3.  The Rise of Self-Service

Almost all of us carry an extremely powerful computer connecting us to our friends, professional network, and the world at large in our pockets every day. We control communications and our access to information. For the most part, people don’t want to rely on others for information, and in many cases, would rather find their own solutions before engaging a professional.

To drive this idea home, let’s return to the world of Customer Service. As Forrester reported early this year, web and mobile self-service have overtaken all other customer support channels for the second year running. In addition, 73% of consumers who participated in their December 2015 “Customer Lifecycle Survey” asserted that “valuing their time is the most important thing companies can do to provide them with good customer service.” Many consumers see self-service as a favorable time-saver because it eliminates the need to engage another person. 

This preference for digital self-service is the same in the workplace. When possible, employees want to control the dialogue and make decisions for themselves. A communications tool that allows employees to make better-informed decisions on their own terms, and with minimal effort, will be met with praise. 

On that same note, employees don’t want to feel forced to communicate. Communication should occur on the employee’s terms, using the method she prefers. 

An employee communication strategy must integrate specific channels and technologies that accommodate the growing preference for digital self-service. 

To Serve the Contemporary Employee, Consider an On-Demand, Self-Service Communication Strategy

We see the trend towards on-demand, self-service technologies as a natural progression for HR, and an increasingly important expectation from the contemporary employee.

A progressive communication strategy should serve the contemporary employee at this intersection of on-demand and self-service. It should enable your workforce to access the information they need when they need it, or communicate with you when they need to, from any device or location. 

Here are some additional resources:

Blog: Using Employee Communications to Foster your Workplace "Tribe"

Whitepaper: The Missing Piece in the HR Technology Landscape

Infographic: Are You and Your Employees Really on Speaking Terms?


Topics: employee engagement, employee experience, internal communications, employee communication

Human Resources Today