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The role of the internal communicator will gain greater importance over the next three years, according to research carried out by Italian association ASCAI in 2017, with the support of FEIEA - the European Association for Internal Communication.

But IC’s future success will depend on it taking a greater role to support top management decision-making and adopting programmes that encourage more active and engaged employee participation.

ASCAI surveyed internal communication (IC) professionals in 448 companies across 12 EU countries to discover the current status and trends in Europe, with interesting results.

  • 64% firmly believe internal communication will gain greater importance in the coming three years. The survey report backs up this belief, concluding that ‘having an established internal communication department that is formally acknowledged in the organisational structure is an unequivocal signal of the importance of having ongoing, well-structured governance of internal relations’
  • IC budgets have increased (25.8%) or are unchanged (46%) and, regardless of size, 41% of companies allocate two to three employees to the IC department. However, many communication professionals (48.6%) feel investment in IC remains inadequate
  • As the industry matures, so too do its participants. More than 70% of respondents have over 10 years of experience and 63% are aged over 40. Women tend to head up internal communication functions, compared to 30% of men in this role. All communication experts surveyed, regardless of their role, had a degree, a Master’s degree or a doctorate
  • Communicators increasingly report to the CEO (22%) compared to the more traditional approach of reporting to Corporate Communications. Just 19% report to HR and 8% to marketing.

The research found three key priorities for internal communication: promotion and dissemination of the corporate culture and identity; communication of the company’s results and business strategies; and employee participation and motivation.

Channels remain important for achieving IC goals. The corporate intranet is the main channel through which they do this, with 74% of respondents seeing it as very important but other methods were equally effective, including face-to-face (73%), digital media (60%) and traditional print (43%). Online events (28%), business TV/radio (15%) and blogs (15%) were thought to be less effective. Social media still has some way to go before it becomes a favoured option, with views mixed between accepting and rejecting it.
However, measurement still seems to evade communicators, according to the survey which found significant gaps in methodology and the communications measured.

Multinational firms, major national firms and companies in northern Europe are seeing measurement as increasingly important.  However, there’s still a lot to do to demonstrate the cost-benefit analysis of internal communication and its impact on customer satisfaction, business results and increased competitive advantage. The same holds for monitoring and measuring behaviour - only a third of companies (36%) measure effectiveness on a regular basis.

Overall, the survey found that the future success of internal communications will depend on IC taking a greater role in supporting top management decision making and adopting programmes that encourage more active and engaged employee participation.
This valuable project, shows the importance of internal communication to European companies and reinforces the essential role of FEIEA as a pan-European network connecting internal communicators” says António Rapoula, FEIEA President about this study.

Read the full report here
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