The internal communications field has come a long way in the past decade or so. The Thanksgiving holiday has me thinking about what I’m thankful for in our business, and three positive changes come to mind.
1. Non-Desk: There’s a new awareness of the importance of communicating directly with offline employees, and more companies are making it a priority to find ways to connect this difficult-to-reach audience. Although cascading information through direct managers remains a default channel for manufacturing, sales and hospitality workforces, more and more of the companies we meet with are already convinced that a critical component of their internal communications strategy will be finding touch points to connect with those employees who aren’t sitting in front of a computer all day.
I remember meeting with the CEO of a manufacturing company in my home state of North Carolina and trying to convince him of the need to communicate with employees outside his corporate headquarters building. He saw no need to spend money on the many employees in all his plants scattered across the state in small towns. When I pushed him on the issue, citing the importance of engagement in that population and its business benefits, he looked at me and said, “Elizabeth, we’re the only game in town. Where else are they gonna work?”
2. Vision and Values: A decade ago, many companies viewed this as a soft topic without clear business benefits. Tribe was far more likely to be called in to help with reorgs and layoffs than with communicating the vision. If top management gave any attention to this area, it was often to develop crazy long mission statements that covered every possible cliché clause. Then they’d print those up and hang them in the company reception area, and that was that.
Nowadays, a large part of our business is working with companies to create employee alignment with leadership’s vision and to help them see how their individual roles contribute to the success of that vision. A critical element of that is finding ways to bring the company values to life, in the sense that employees throughout the company are guided by those values when they make day-to-day decisions in their jobs.
3. Talent: In the old days, internal communications wasn’t always where the star talent showed up. Young creatives, and I include myself in this group, were drawn to what we saw as the glamor and excitement of consumer branding. And truly, it was a lot of fun to shoot television spots in New York and LA, settling in for ten days or so at a great hotel, eating on expense account at all the trendiest restaurants.
Fortunately Millennials place a priority on meaningful work, and they are increasingly drawn to our field. Many most talented young writers, designers and strategic thinkers are attracted by the opportunity to help improve the quality of work life — and to make work more meaningful — to employees in companies across the globe.
So I’m grateful. It’s a good time to be in our business, and a privilege to have seen it evolve over the past stretch of years.
Interested in strengthening your company’s internal communications? Tribe can help.