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Tops & Flops in Internal Communication

In today’s stakeholder economy, the employee experience is of paramount importance as it determines a company’s reputation and performance. Internal communication is an essential part of this experience.

Effective communication with internal stakeholders goes beyond merely broadcasting information:
It involves fostering dialogue and cultivating a shared culture that nurtures the company’s success. The authenticity of the communication and quality of the content plays a significant role in this process. However, the channels and formats can also significantly enhance or diminish the effectiveness of the message.

About the survey 

Our Transformation & Change Team in Central Europe has conducted 25 personal interviews with Heads of Communication and Heads of Internal Communication, asking three questions about the successes and failures of recently applied channels and formats. With the interviews we covered almost 20 industries – from banking, media and automotive, to engineering and the energy sector.
The three guiding questions were: 

  • Top: Which internal communication formats have been particularly successful in recent years and have inspired employees?

  • Flop: Which formats have not been successful and why?

  • Trend: What are you going to prioritize or change in 2024?

Insights in a nutshell

The survey results show that the effectiveness and attractiveness of communication formats vary from company to company and change within an organization over time. While townhalls, podcasts, and live events, which promote personal exchange, were named as top formats, communication experts are faced with the task of continuously adapting communication to the needs of internal stakeholders, taking its cultural impact into account and at the same time optimizing the cost-benefit ratio of their efforts.

CEO communication: authenticity and attitude are required

Most companies are constantly striving for effective CEO formats: the more authentic and personal, the more successful. However, this also means that there is no "one size fits all" format. CEO selfie-videos only work particularly well if the protagonists use the format confidently and have a convincing presence.

What communicators face, beyond the choice of suitable formats, is the increased expectation from employees that CEOs take a stand on current socio-political events: in real-time, not weeks later. It is obvious that this expectation carries many challenges: Which topics should be addressed and which not? How does one manage the diversity of employee opinions on particularly sensitive issues, and how can one avoid backlash or 'shitstorms'?"

Spotlight on employees and their stories

Many companies are focusing on reducing the number of communication formats in order to stem the flood of information. Instead, they are focusing on real experiences and stories by presenting employees as protagonists in podcasts and articles and encouraging them to publish their own contributions as part of corporate ambassador programs.

Communicators refocus on Corporate Culture

Most companies have recognized that corporate culture is a significant factor for business success. However, the search for suitable communication formats that contribute to the desired corporate culture requires not only creativity but also a fine sense for cultural dynamics.

As an example, more and more companies are designing formats around corporate values aiming to demonstrate what these corporate values concretely mean and how they are lived in everyday life. For instance, value awards that recognize teams and individual employees are widespread, as are "rituals," as one of the surveyed companies calls them: Fitness challenges to demonstrate the value of "care" or CEO Talks that explain complex topics in line with the value of "simplicity."

Rarely a real flop

While the findings on the tops were numerous, the search for flops was less fruitful. This was often due to the fact that the companies already had reservations about certain measures and consequently never implemented them.

The rare examples of less successful formats showed that these were often not well received because they did not suit the respective speaker or did not take the needs of the employees or the current mood in the company into account.

The trends

When asked about priorities for the coming months, study participants reported that the search for value-adding use of AI tools is high on the agenda. With this, they are trying, among other things, to empower employees as authors, particularly with an eye on employer branding. Likewise, many companies are striving to improve the effectiveness and reach of channels and formats for internal communication by utilizing data.  

How can we support you?

As the advisor of the stakeholder economy, we help navigate times of complex change and offer integrated strategies to engage the audiences that matter most. Recognizing and harnessing the critical importance of internal stakeholders is key to unlocking innovation, driving productivity, and ultimately, achieving sustainable growth.

Transformation & Strategy: We ensure that employees understand the corporate strategy and engage in driving its success.

Post Merger Integration: We maximise the success of your M&A transaction through strategic communication and employee engagement in the integration process.

Corporate Purpose & Culture: We help you articulate your corporate purpose and shape the culture needed to support your business objectives.

Meet our Transformation & Change Team Continental Europe