The state of internal communication in the U.K.

Have you ever wondered what challenges internal communicators face in other countries? A new survey from the U.K. reveals the state of the industry for our friends across the pond.

Gatehouse Group recently released its fifth annual State of the Sector report on internal communication.

The report is Gatehouse Group’s industry-wide census. It investigates the challenges internal communicators face, and where their focus will be over the coming months.

Here are some highlights from this year’s report:

  • Employee-focused apps are on the rise.
  • Almost 40 percent of organizations allow employees to access internal content via mobile devices.
  • The annual decline in print finally seems stable. Posters remain a staple within the communications mix.

The survey was conducted in November 2013, and 157 communicators from organizations large and small had their say.

Lee Smith, director at Gatehouse, said: “This report provides a comprehensive benchmark on internal communication and employee engagement activity across numerous leading organizations throughout the UK and the rest of the world.”

I always enjoy looking through the report to get a sense of where the profession is. There are seldom any surprises, as it matches up with the experiences of my clients and people in my network, but it’s a useful benchmark.

This year’s study

Face-to-face communication is still considered one of the most effective employee communication channels and, thankfully, has weathered the economic storms of recent years.

The most popular face-to-face channels remain relatively unchanged. While traditional team meetings take the lead with 80 percent of responses, away days and conferences with senior leaders follow closely. Formal cascade meetings, senior management site visits and roadshows are also broadly used, which suggests face-to-face remains the preferred route for leadership and line manager communication.

These findings were in line with last year’s results.

I’m certainly having more conversations with people about face-to-face communication, be that in person (ideal) or via webinars. Internal communicators are looking for ways to capture conversations and facilitate discussion when schedules and geography don’t allow for face-to-face discussions.

Does this match what you’re experiencing?

Large-scale events

The majority of respondents (88 percent) now use large-scale events as part of their internal communication mix—an 8 percent improvement on last year, and another sign that confidence and budgets are returning. Also, the number of respondents who do not hold large-scale events has fallen considerably, from 20 percent to just 12 percent.

Digital channels

One-third of respondents have implemented an enterprise social network.

The top five digital channels remained relatively stable compared to the results 12 months ago. They are:

  • Email
  • Intranet
  • E-newsletters
  • Tele/video conferences
  • Blogs

Sixteen percent of respondents are making use of smartphone apps, and 38 percent say it’s common for employees to use personal devices to access internal content (bring your own device, or BYOD).

Measurement

As it is similar to the PR Academy Trends Survey, which identified measurement as the biggest skills gap for past and former students, the measurement section particularly interested me.

According to Gatehouse Group, the top three measurement methods are:

  • Employee engagement surveys (75 percent).
  • Intranet analytics (64 percent).
  • Focus groups dedicated to internal communication (31percent).

However, 12 percent stated they do not measure their internal communication efforts.

Want to read more? Download the full results.

A version of this article originally appeared on All Things IC.

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