Now that 2018 has come to a close, it's time to look back at some of the lessons learned and what we can expect in 2019 when it comes to internal communication. This past year, communicators continued grappling with a rapidly changing workforce, including rising demand from deskless and remote workers who are paving the way for shifting communication preferences. A key aspect of this shift is the way employees consume content and communicate in their day-to-day lives, which transfers over to how they expect to communicate with their employers, in quick, seamless and consumer-oriented ways. Moreover, in the age of social media and new technologies and channels, employees have access to broad networks and can make or break a company's reputation if they're not meeting their expectations. This digitally connected workforce is increasingly adding more pressure for communicators to evaluate how they reach employees, particularly those who hold non-conventional office jobs away from a desk.
Communicators will act more like marketers
In 2019, evolving workforce dynamics will push communicators to take a page out of the marketing playbook and start mapping out their employees' journeys just as they do their customers' journeys. With employees increasingly not only demanding, but also expecting that their unique needs and interests be met, the traditional, one-size-fits-all approach to employee communication simply won't cut it anymore, and 2019 will be the breaking point for communicators to customize and tailor their content and messages to specific groups of employees.
Unified analytics will replace "clicks and likes" metrics
The traditional approach to measuring employee communication has been "analytics by channel," i.e., looking at clicks, opens or page views on various channels and tools---a siloed method in which you can't deduce a cohesive story line. Realizing this doesn't meet their needs, communicators are now starting to turn to "unified analytics," a new approach set to dominate 2019 that is more in line with how we view the world---looking at content engagement as a proxy for engagement within a company and for overall organizational health. By unifying analytics across specific employee groups and channels (mobile app, kiosk, digital signage, intranet, email, etc.), communicators can see holistically what resonates and the common threads across groups of employees in order to shape their content and storytelling strategies. In the future, this will even let them predict the types of messages to deliver to certain groups of employees to drive even greater engagement.
Employee communication strategies will take a consumer spin
Every employee is also a consumer, and therefore accustomed to rapidly consuming high-quality, engaging content. From the rise in video production in recent years to mobile and social media that grab and entertain them at the touch of a finger, employees are accustomed to receiving visually stunning, interactive content in their daily lives---and increasingly expect this type of interaction from their employers as well. Behind the scenes, content producers are avidly working to ensure seamless experiences, with smart algorithms running to keep users coming back time and again. As this consumer trend progresses in 2019, HR professionals and internal communicators will similarly be forced to elevate their content plans and methods in order to engage, retain and satisfy this demand from content-hungry employees.
Automation will lead to strategic measurement
Internal communicators have historically had an impossible role, often overworked and understaffed. But in the coming year, we'll see this improve as automation begins enabling communicators to act more strategically, increase their impact through artificial intelligence and reach every employee across their organizations, regardless of platform. With automation allowing communicators to spend more time on analysis---evaluating what is and isn't working and what topics matter to which audiences---teams can spend more time on strategic objectives rather than reacting to the latest business ask. Through this newfound reach and focus, internal communicators will see their roles elevated with the ability to measure, visualize and prove the strategic impact of communication on the business and company culture.
The bottom line
For internal communicators, the task of reaching an increasingly distributed workforce is a daunting one. However, they will have an upper hand at achieving this if they understand the changes at play. Employee communication and engagement is at a critical crossroads, and organizations that keep the above in mind will be better positioned to thrive in effectively engaging their employees. As internal communicators' roles continue to be elevated and they refine their strategies, this upcoming year is bound to be a transformative one in meeting the needs of an evolving workforce through personalized, dynamic content and experiences.