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State of Workplace Communications: Companies Struggle to Reach Employees in Today’s Disconnected, Widely Distributed Workforce

Group of cheerful young people discussing something with smile and gesturing while leaning to the table in officeCompany communications platform Dynamic Signal recently released The State of Workplace Communications report, its first annual study of communication professionals. The report gives insight into which channels are currently being used to disseminate important information, the challenges communication leaders face in communicating effectively within their organizations, and what budget is being allocated to solve these challenges.

Workplace Communications Are Disconnected

Survey respondents said the top priority for their communications department is ensuring employees feel informed and connected, yet nearly three quarters say they have problems keeping employees “on brand and on message” when communicating company news and information. Employees agree—in fact, Gallup reported that 74 percent of employees are disconnected and feel that they’re missing out on company information and news.

The report also highlights that 37 percent of communication professionals surveyed reported that internal silos create the greatest challenge they face in workforce communications. Today’s workforce is disconnected, widely distributed, and often desk-less. Nearly half of the respondents reported being frustrated by the tools and platforms available to reach employees in a way that is timely, effective, and measurable.

Highlights of the research:

  • Study respondents listed email as the most effective way their organizations communicate with their teams. However more than half of the global workforce does not have a corporate email address and cannot be easily reached by email. Additionally, as people are sending and receiving122 business emailsper day on average, it’s become difficult for important company news and communication to cut through the noise.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statisticsestimates that over 75 million working Americans are hourly-wage workers, performing desk-less work—suggesting that employees need a convenient way to receive important information to effectively perform their jobs, and companies need a better way to reach these workers who do not have a corporate email address.
  • Communication professionals surveyed also cited the company intranet as the second most effective form of internal communication (ahead of social media, breakroom posters and mobile apps), despite that fact that today’s workforce requires a mobile-first approach to important communications according to The New York Times, which reports that in the U.S., 97 percent of people 18 to 34, and 94 percent of people 35 to 49 had access to smartphones. Further, Prescient Digital Media recently reported that only 13 percent of employees actually visit their intranet daily and 31 percent never visit the intranet at all.

Dynamic Signal’s previous research also highlights that 55% of employees said that a mobile application would help them become more informed and engaged with their company.

“Our report shows that communication professionals continue to rely on technology designed to reach employees in an office, at a desk. This is ineffective and and leaves companies totally unable to communicate with half of their employees who are remote, lack a corporate email address, or are generally disconnected,” said Russ Fradin, CEO and co-founder of Dynamic Signal, in a news release. “The fact is that mobile phone penetration has exploded in recent years. Technology is finally allowing companies to communicate with every employee, everywhere, reaching an entire workforce in a way that is personalized, convenient, measureable, and efficient.”

Budgets and Priorities Don’t Align with Organizational Needs

The Dynamic Signal report outlines the conflict between priorities and budgets. According to Gallup, disengaged employees cost the U.S. more than $500 billion each year in lost productivity. Organizations can improve productivity by up to 25 percent by connecting with employees, according to McKinsey. Additionally, AonHewitt reports that for every one percent increase in employee engagement, brands can expect to see an additional 0.6 percent growth in sales.

That’s a significant amount of potential hanging on employee engagement, yet there remains a disconnect between this need and its priority within organizations. Two thirds of survey respondents said they have not received an increase in their communication technology budgets over the last few years, and nearly one fifth said the greatest challenge they face is making internal communications a priority for senior leadership.

A lack of awareness about the cost of poor internal communications could also play a role in how budgets are distributed—nearly 60 percent of survey respondents said they didn’t know the fiscal impact of ineffective communication and only 17 percent have already invested in software for internal communications.

“There is a major disconnect in workplace communications. Much of the data is pointing to the same problem—communications professionals are not investing in the tools they need to effectively communicate with key constituents,” Fradin said. “Technology has fundamentally changed the way we communicate, and yet companies are still relying on yesterday’s tools to communicate in the workplace. Organizations have to invest in a mobile first approach to company communications if they want to reach employees with timely, relevant information in a way that impacts their top and bottom lines.”

Download the full report here.

The State of Workplace Communications culled from interviews with more than 300 global communications professionals from February 21, 2017 to March 3, 2017. The sizes of the companies ranged 100 to more than 10,000 employees.

Source: Dynamic Signal; edited by Richard Carufel

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