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8 internal communication trends shaping workplaces in 2024

We are all navigating unprecedented change at work — with rapid digital transformation, remote and hybrid models, and cultural shifts triggered by a workforce that has never been more multi-generational. The transformation is reshaping how businesses operate, what their daily workflows look like, and what goes into everything from internal communications to long-term strategic planning. 

  • Why it matters: Effective communication drives workplace productivity and employee engagement — and keeps a strong hand on the wheel through all that change. Yet, 60% of employees say the internal updates they get aren't engaging. And that's creating misalignment with goals and priorities.

Internal communications professionals must find new ways to connect with and engage employees if they want to thrive in the transformed work landscape.

2024 internal communications trends

Internal communication is evolving. The complexity of the post-pandemic work environment means organizations must deliver timely and engaging messages, leverage reliable technology, and be mindful of employee experience. A lot's happening because of it:

1. Employees want more organization-wide discussions

Today’s workers value authenticity and transparency. Nothing causes employees to disengage more than vague and disingenuous internal communication. It erodes trust, lowers morale, and decreases productivity.

Leaders must be willing to discuss important issues — or explain why their organization doesn't intend to touch difficult, contentious, or political topics — in open forums that strengthen staff relationships.

Internal comms teams can help leaders align with this internal communication trend by:

  • Creating internal company newsletters about industry news, policy updates, company milestones, upcoming events, employee stories, etc. A regular newsletter from leadership will help team members stay up on company goals and objectives, fostering transparency between the executive and staff.
  • Organizing town hall meetings where all employees can directly engage with management, ask questions, and share feedback. Virtual conferencing tools bridge the gaps for companies with regional branches or remote workers.

Hold regular organization-wide discussions for a continuously aligned and engaged workforce. Ensure employees and management can confidently speak about issues that affect the entire company.

2. Leaders are engaging in tough topics more often

The democratization of the workplace means more and more leaders will face environmental, social, and political questions from their workforce. Nearly 90% of employees expect CEOs to speak about societal challenges, according to Edelman.

And they are. Kind of.

Nearly 45% of leaders say they proactively engage in difficult conversations. However, our research shows only 23% of employees agree. The disconnect may be that leaders only engage when pressured to speak.

Promptly addressing issues prevents escalations, turning negative situations into positive learning experiences. Here’s how to successfully navigate tough topics:

  • Cross-reference significant issues with the company’s values. Employees will confront leaders when there’s a mismatch between what they say and do.
  • Conduct guided discussions to cover all points and meet pre-determined objectives.
  • Use positive framing to steer the conversation towards desirable outcomes.
  • Demonstrate the company’s values by highlighting relevant CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives in place.

Engaging in potentially volatile discussions builds trust, facilitates constructive dialogue, and demonstrates commitment to employee well-being.

3. Increased focus on employee sentiment

The Great Resignation of 2021 taught organizations that employees value connection and a sense of purpose over pay and benefits. And the results of a few of our more recent LinkedIn polls show the quality of your internal communication can also impact employee attrition.

What this means: Business leaders must communicate company priorities and goals often, clearly, and with a priority on what your teams want and need to hear from you — rather than just what you want to say to them. That keeps folks doing work that is valuable to the organization and feeling more happy and connected to it.

That feeling — employee sentiment — deals with people’s attitudes about their job and work environment, answering questions like:

  • Would you recommend this company as a great place to work?
  • Do you have career advancement opportunities?
  • Do you identify with the company’s values?
  • Does the company effectively communicate its strategies and policies?
  • Does the company care about your well-being or mental health?
  • Do you have the tools and information to do your job well?

These questions cover all aspects of work, from meaningfulness of work to manager support. Positive feelings result in higher engagement, lower turnover, and increased profitability. Negative feelings signal demotivation and burnout.

The primary metric to measure employee sentiment is employee satisfaction, which you can track through:

  • Running sentiment surveys to earn insight into employees’ feelings and build a sentiment index to track trends over time.
  • Using the employee net promoter score (eNPS) to quantify workers’ satisfaction numerically and predict turnover.
  • Monitoring absenteeism to identify high-stress, at-risk employees.

Putting employees first is vital to creating a healthy work environment. Focusing on employee sentiment shows that you care about employees, which strengthens the company's culture.

4. Driving employee engagement through targeted communications

One-size-fits-all communication isn’t productive — employees waste 28% of the workweek managing emails, according to McKinsey.

Today’s employees demand relevant communication through their preferred channels, making hyper-personalization the next big thing in workplace communication trends. There are two levels of personalization:

  • Tactical personalization involves naming employees in communications and using preferred communication channels and content formats.
  • Strategic personalization involves creating targeted communication based on employees’ departments, projects, and roles.

Here are a few tactics to help you deliver targeted communication:

  • Develop employee profiles that capture information about interests, goals, and skills, which will inform your comms strategy.
  • Segment your workforce by shared characteristics (department, location, etc.) so you can send relevant messages to different groups.
  • Analyze data from surveys and communication tools to understand employees’ content and channel preferences.

Tailoring communication drives employee engagement by ensuring the correct information reaches the right people in a way that resonates with them. No more shifting through crowded inboxes to find relevant company news or missing them outright.

5. Using AI to streamline internal communications

Artificial intelligence is one of those workplace communication trends that are here to stay. Gartner predicts that in 2025, 30% of outbound marketing messages will use generative AI. There’s no reason to think internal communication will be different.

AI streamlines internal communication in various ways, saving internal communication teams time and effort.

  • Brainstorming. Generative AI suggests campaign ideas or content topics. That diversifies and accelerates the ideation process, breaks mental blocks, and increases creativity.
  • Content creation. Internal communicators can create high-quality content in a fraction of the time using content outlines and text and image generation.
  • Personalization. Continuous analysis of user interactions enables internal communicators to predict employee behavior and personalize communication.
  • Workflow automation. AI identifies data patterns to generate self-optimizing workflows rather than replicating ones.

A word of caution. The rewards promised by this technology come with risks, such as bias amplification, data privacy concerns, and copyright violations. The best way to use AI is as a collaborative tool, not the sole source of your communication content.

6. Focus on internal communications ROI

Effective communication takes time and money. Communication KPIs like reach and engagement help justify these resource requirements. But that’s not all internal communications teams should measure. 

  • 25% of organizations don’t have a dedicated budget for internal communication. Decision-makers use return on investment (ROI) to determine the financial merit of an internal communications strategy, which has been challenging for internal communicators to prove historically.

Fortunately, many internal communication tools offer tracking and analytics features, allowing you to collect data to calculate ROI. In addition to quantitative performance indicators or ‘hard returns,’ include qualitative metrics or ‘soft returns’ in your report. These provide valuable insights into your communication strategy that numbers can’t show, such as connection or sense of belonging.

7. A renewed focus on being mobile-first 

Live communication channels like phone calls and meetings are important, but aren’t sufficient in fast-paced, digitally-driven work environments. Delays in sharing critical messages can now spark market-shifting consequences, real financial loss, and even reputation damage.

  • A mobile-first approach helps companies to provide real-time updates, enhancing operational efficiency. It guarantees individual employees immediate access to relevant information regardless of their location — critical when 80% of the global workforce is deskless.

One way to implement this workplace communication trend:

  • Carve out a communication channel employees are trained to check for vital updates. Whether it's a strategically timed email, a push to Slack, a key update on your intranet, build a habit and ritual around the go-to source where employees can access updates, executive messages, or HR updates. 

On-the-go accessibility are the future of workplace communication, especially with Gen MZ’s (millennial and Gen Z) preference for quick information exchange over phone calls and face-to-face meetings.

8. Internal marketing

Employees are critical stakeholders. To remain competitive in a candidate market, internal communicators must approach internal communications like marketers — being audience-first, working to make them your brand's greatest champions, and respecting the impact they have on your ability to succeed.

Internal marketing facilitates employee buy-in by promoting a company’s products, services, and values. It ensures workers have the knowledge they need to thrive in the workplace.

The results are:

  • Better alignment
  • Increased engagement
  • Strong brand advocacy
  • Improved employer brand reputation

Starbucks’ College Achievement Plan is an example of internal marketing.

Starbucks' college achievement plan

The company pays for its U.S. employees to complete an online degree at Arizona State University.

Other internal marketing ideas include:

  • Educating employees on the company values, products, and CSR programs,
  • Acknowledging employee contribution,
  • Encouraging employee product feedback.

When employees fully support the business, they provide value to customers. As Virgin Group founder Richard Branson said, “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

Bonus: Collecting employee feedback is still essential

Effective communication is two-way. Organizations must listen to their workers. Feedback allows employees to express their opinions, preferences, and satisfaction levels. That makes them feel valued, increasing engagement and retention.

Popular feedback channels include:

  • Surveys
  • Polls
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Suggestion boxes

Giving employees a voice is especially relevant in hybrid and digital workplaces where workers are isolated and have limited opportunities to interact with the business and each other. Here are 28 questions you can adopt — or adapt — for your internal communication surveys.

The bottom line

Modern workplaces are evolving, and internal communications must adapt to new technology, hybrid office environments, and shifting work attitudes to remain competitive. This year's internal communication trends like artificial intelligence, targeted communication, and employee sentiment will transform how businesses connect with workers.

Go deeper: The 2024 state of internal communication

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