As we head into 2023, the post-pandemic landscape is coming into greater focus. There also continues to be uncertainty caused by inflation, rising interest rates, tech layoffs and fears of a looming recession.
In addition to economic instability, over the past few years, companies have encountered a workforce reckoning. The pandemic gave workers a chance to look at their lives and assess what mattered most to them. Flexibility, purpose and an approach to work that puts humans at the center has become increasingly important.
The resulting work revolution is driving change in how we work and the role of internal communications in the workplace. As work evolves, internal communications teams are evolving to meet business needs, de-centralized working models, provide greater personalization and meet the demands of their employee audience.
So, what’s coming in 2023?
We’ve identified six predictions based on recent trends and data to help internal communications leaders plan for this year.
With the evolution of employee and customer values that prioritize the human experience, shared purpose and making the world a better place, brands need to re-focus their marketing and internal communications to be human-centered.
But, what does that mean?
Human-centered design has existed as a design methodology for decades. It’s a process that begins with empathy and research to truly understand the end user and build a product or experience that meets their needs.
A similar way of thinking is now being applied to the customer and employee experience. A number of top brands are already pivoting their employee value propositions to be human-centered (i.e. Disney’s Career Page: Be You. Be Here. Be Party of the Story).
Top consultancies, research firms and thought leaders are all singing a similar song: brands need to evolve their internal and external systems, processes and messaging to be human-centered. You may hear different words like customer-centric and employee-centric, but it’s all the same tune.
To truly connect with employees in 2023, companies need to seek to better understand them and will increasingly turn to surveys, employee interviews and other forms of research to build understanding, empathy and ultimately a brand that resonates with employees and customers alike.
When it comes to the power of purpose, the data is clear: companies that lead with purpose grow three times faster than competitors, while achieving higher workforce and customer satisfaction.
Your company's purpose clearly answers the question “why do you exist?” and connects deeply with customers and employees. This “why” fuels employee engagement and retention with purpose-driven companies reporting higher productivity and growth rates, along with 40% higher workforce retention than competitors.
A compelling company purpose used to be a "nice to have" and is steadily becoming a “need to have” for the employee experience.
If your brand doesn’t have a clear purpose, internal communications has a unique opportunity to bring this need to the forefront in 2023. If there is an existing purpose, internal communicators will become “purpose champions” and amplify this messaging throughout the organization to drive employee engagement and business growth.
With the advent of social media and the fast pace in which communication travels, internal communications are increasingly becoming external news. Take, for example, the wide-spread reporting on Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover and his employee memos. Elon’s internal emails quickly became headline news.
As a result, internal communications and public relations teams are increasingly coordinating news releases and information distribution. Organizations who seek to increase collaboration will consolidate these two functions into one.
In addition, brands are now turning to social media channels like TikTok and Instagram to connect existing and potential employees with employee experience content and messaging that establishes their brand as an employer of choice.
In 2023, internal communications teams will work even more closely with public relations and seek to increase team knowledge of external social platforms. Part of this includes developing video and content skills to connect with an employee audience that is increasingly gravitating toward highly-visual content and short-form videos.
As the line between internal and external communication dissolves, employees are expecting to interface with more advanced technology internally. This includes a mobile-first intranet, apps and a more personalized digital employee experience. These personalized experiences should be based on the employee’s location, role, job level and interests.
The need for this technology has only grown with the increase of hybrid and remote work and the decentralized workforce. It’s not enough for the digital experience to simply act as a conduit for workplace news or information - it’s now an essential part of the employee experience.
The digital experience can be used by internal communications teams to help build a sense of culture and connection amongst disconnected and decentralized employees.
Marketing teams have been mapping the customer experience and defining customer personas for years - largely because they’ve had the technology and tools to customize content for each stage of the journey and each audience.
As internal communications teams evolve their tech stack to introduce more advanced intranet platforms and mobile apps with increased customization and personalization, leaders are also seeking to better understand their employee audience.
That’s where defining and documenting the employee experience and employee personas comes in. This strategic documentation creates a sense of focus for internal communications teams to more strategically craft and distribute content that caters directly to each audience.
In addition, having a documented employee experience map and personas gives internal communications and HR leaders the tools they need to create a shared understanding of the employee experience and create alignment with executive leadership and business partners across the organization.
Since the start of the pandemic, companies have been experimenting with more flexible work dynamics with hybrid work rising to the top of employee and brand preferences as it provides a healthy balance of in-person collaboration and at-home productivity time.
The next frontier of flexibility will be scheduling flexibility and re-assessing the five-day work week. A Global 4 Day Week Pilot with 33 companies and 903 workers tested the four-day work week. They found that the average revenue rose 38% compared to the same term last year and 97% of employees preferred to continue the schedule. Businesses saw the updated work week as a win-win as it improved productivity, performance and physical and mental health.
With the increase of hybrid workers and the four-day work week, the most logical next step in the work evolution is to measure employee performance based on specific outcomes - not hours. This allows for accountability in flexible working environments and trust to be built between leaders and employees.
As brands transition to more flexible ways of working, internal communications teams will play a key role in strategically communicating changes and supporting leaders and employees throughout the process.
In 2023 the work revolution will continue and internal communications will evolve to meet changing brand and employee needs. Key trends include an approach to work that is human-centered, the importance of purpose, increased collaboration with PR, personalized digital experiences and scheduling flexibility.
Internal communications leaders have a unique opportunity to lead the way in their organizations by implementing new technology, helping to create purpose-fueled cultures and clearly documenting their employee experience and personas.
2023 is ripe with opportunity. The question is: How will you and your brand rise to the challenge?
If you’d like to understand how you can better prepare for these internal communications predictions and trends in 2023, we’re happy to help! We can work with your team to implement an audit, survey and strategy. Contact us for a free consultation.
As we head into 2023, how can internal communications leaders prepare to meet evolving business and employee needs? Plan for these 6 predictions.
One of the most powerful tools at your disposal is a documented annual strategy. Here's an easy 6 step strategy framework for your brand.