While the world is focused on the ‘Great Resignation,’ there is an increased need for communicators and leaders to be mindful of the ‘Great Realization’ – a trend in which employees are re-examining the way they choose their places of work and find professional and personal fulfillment. It isn’t the benefits, salaries, or policies that bother them. The focus on workplace culture is witnessing a revival that organizations can’t ignore. It is about doing what’s right, being part of a community that cares, an organization that is socially conscious and having a workplace culture that respects people.
A study by The Society for Human Resource Management discovered “that nearly 1-in-5 American workers have left a job in the past five years due to bad company culture, resulting in an estimated $223 billion lost for companies over that time.” From vaccinations to pay, and from ethics to mental health, employees have a more substantial say in topics that matter. The employee-employer relationship has been evolving from a reactive scenario to one with equity and ownership for both parties. This new reality will require an evolution in how organizations reshape their cultures and partner with employees to create shared success in the future. For internal communicators and leaders, monitoring, assessing, and engaging will be primary needs as expectations at the workplace shift.
Here are a few trends that can potentially change the way communicators and leaders drive connection, community, and care at the workplace and beyond:
— Purpose-led communication matters most. This goes beyond what companies want to achieve. It is about what staff and the communities expect from organizations beyond profit. Employees are demanding actions with purpose. High-growth brands believe in using purpose to guide employee decision-making while ‘chief purpose officers’ will be sought out.
Organizations that link their practices and policies to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and commit to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues will be acknowledged and perceived positively by staff and prospective candidates. Although a higher number of organizations are increasingly communicating and explaining their employee value propositions to staff, the traditional approach needs to be refreshed with a more ‘human’ touch – one that values employees as people beyond just work. One study indicates that 65% of candidates report they have abandoned a hiring process due to an unattractive employee value proposition.
— Leadership communication will be revisited. With turbulent changes at work, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and upheavals in corporate governance, top-down directives, and bureaucratic structures are obsolete. Everyone is expected to be a leader, irrespective of their position within the organization. According to a recent global study, more than one-third of people did not agree there was “open and honest communication” at their company. Also, leaders have increased expectations to share their thoughts and perspectives with all stakeholders frequently.
— Bridging the say/do divide is vital. Communicators need to acknowledge that trust among leaders is dipping. This reality impacts how their shared messages are received and perceived by employees. A workplace culture study found that while 66% of managers listen to staff, only 43% take affirmative action. Likewise, while 75% of leaders believe that they consider employees’ perspectives when making decisions, only 47% of employees agree that this is the case.
— Managing individualized experiences becomes a priority. With rising individualism across the globe (me over we), communicators and leaders will be expected to personalize messages to suit individual needs. Laws protecting employees ‘right to disconnect’ are giving them increased flexibility and freedom. Additionally, diversity will continue to be a key area of focus for organizations as they hire top talent. This will require organizations to emphasize authentic and empathetic communication related to this important aspect in the workplace.
— Data and insights-driven communication take center stage. With the growing uncertainty in the geopolitical landscape, leaders and communicators will need to make data-centric decisions. Most data (between 60-73%) within organizations goes unused. Likewise, leaders struggle to make sense of the data they have collected. A KPMG study indicated that many leaders (75%) experience some level of difficulty while making decisions with the data they have. Likewise, communicators will be expected to learn and implement interventions based on behavioral science and ‘nudges’ will gain importance as resistance to change mounts within organizations.
The future looks exciting for internal communicators as they navigate the evolving nature of work, workplaces, and workforces and get involved even more deeply to solve some of the biggest challenges organizations will face in the next decade.
Aniisu K Verghese is an award-winning internal communications leader, author, speaker, trainer and blogger with over 22 years of experience. His mission is to help individuals and organizations discover and develop their sweet-spot through effective communications. He is the author of Internal Communications – Insights, Practices and Models and Get Intentional. Aniisu is passionate about engaging communicators and students through workshops, speaking engagements, teaching assignments and blogging. He can be contacted on LinkedIn and via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed are personal.