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Trends for internal communication profession 2022

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Reflecting on the key trends that I believe will most impact our profession this coming year, my thoughts all kept coming back to one thing: purpose.

Recent research by Connectr found that only a third of UK employees feel like they belong within their current organisation. This could mean that 16 million people currently feel disconnected and alienated.

For organisations, that’s a huge challenge.

Employees’ ties to organisations are weaker and there’s talk of 2022 being the year of the ‘Great People Resignation’.

It’s understandable given that we’re still trying to settle on some sort of new rhythm to our working and workplaces, getting used to some of our colleagues working on site five days a week and others splitting their time between work and home.

And this disruption and continuing uncertainty from the pandemic is feeding into our sense of disconnection and belonging.

From my own work, I can see that many organisations are struggling to connect employees to their purpose and strategy. With many companies busy pivoting business plans and investing in transformation and change programmes, it’s even harder to create that crucial clear line of sight so that people can see where they fit, what they need to do, and can feel that they are making a difference.

So if it’s a challenge for organisations, it’s an opportunity for internal communication.

President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, famously said in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis: ‘You never want to let a serious crisis go to waste’. But the quote continues:And what I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things that you thought you could not before.’ 

What’s our ‘opportunity’ as communicators in 2022? What can we do that perhaps we haven’t done before?

From the experiences of 2020, communicators learned that they were more valued and relied on by leaders to quickly reach and communicate the important, and what comms channels, tech and tools worked best.

From 2021, we’ve learned that one-size comms doesn’t fit all; that authentic, visible leadership and informed line managers can change minds and behaviours; that a little empathy goes a long way.

For 2022, the opportunity for internal communicators is to help their organisations bring meaning to purpose – is the ‘why’ we do what we do really clear?

At October’s IoIC Festival one of the keynote speakers, author David Price, talked eloquently about the post-Covid shift from Leader-Driven to People-Powered organisations and the need for a movement for change in organisational culture.

Workers, he said, are looking for more meaning in their work. The opportunity to reflect during the pandemic has led to a re-evaluation of a personal sense of purpose. If a third of our lives are spent at work, then work needs to offer more than just a pay check.

What are the ways in which IC can help re-connect people to purpose?

Is the purpose and narrative meaningful and relevant to people so they can see how they are connected? Are there enough authentic stories of its impact inside and outside the business? Is purpose reflected when needed in what we communicate, how we communicate, when we communicate, and why we communicate?

And are we linked into two-way feedback and listening enough to employees – wherever they are - and using the insight to inform what we shape and deliver?

Harking back to Emmanuel’s quote, 2022 is the opportunity to try different things in comms and to experiment or do things we haven’t done before. As long as it is relevant and meaningful and supports the bigger purpose, at best it’ll add value to our organisation and at worst, well we’ll have learned something useful.

Suzanne Peck,
IoIC President

 

What to expect from  IoIC in 2022

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Whilst is been a challenging time for many, we made it through as a community. I have continued to be amazed by the work of the internal communication profession which culminated in my highlights of the year when we’re able to bring people together in person, yes in person, for not one but two events, - the IoIC Awards Dinner, and IoIC Festival.   The atmosphere was palpable at the sheer joy of simply being together, this was testament to the community I am privileged to serve who values each other and openly shares in our learnings, successes, and achievements.

Like our members, we have been working hard at IoIC HQ to ensure we continually develop ourselves to better support our members and showcase our profession.  We have enhanced our online community, delivered over 80 training courses, and seen more people than ever invest in themselves to become qualified internal communication professionals. We have also continued to invest in content to help you build your skills with new guidance, factsheets, webinars, and we delivered over 6 reports looking at the major future of works trends and launched our new podcast series ‘Future of Internal Communication'; in which we discuss these trends and the role of internal communication which has had over 1,000 downloads.

There are always lessons learnt, many of which we will build on in 2022 as we seek to improve our online experiences, bring back in person training, create more events to share our work, and deliver content to help our community learn, develop, and grow.  Here is some of the activities you can expect from us in 2022.

What to expect from us in 2022:

  • Improved online experiences: we are making a considerable investment in our website and central systems to improve your membership experience. This will see the online journey for members significantly improve and make it easier to engage with your benefits and learning.   
  • Content: with more guidance material planned to help members, the continued delivery of Voice magazine and a more joined up content approach to improve how you access and engage with our content and resources.
  • Training: we are bringing back in person training from March 2022, alongside our virtual delivery, and we will be developing new programmes to support everyone in the profession as they seek to improve their skills.
  • Networks: we will, of course, continue to work with our wonderful volunteers across the regions, who will coordinate Hubs – some online and some face to face. Once we have our new website, we will also be making it much easier for you to get involved, with your region and other volunteering opportunities too.
  • Podcasts: our ‘Future of Internal Communication podcast’ series will be back as we discuss topics to include the impact of digital communications, the role of IC in wellbeing at work, hybrid working, internal vs external communication and much more.
  • Virtual Events: We will be enhancing our overall events programme next year by adding ‘Bitesize’, a range of online events to hear from your peers about the hot topics of the moment – they will be online, no more than 90 minutes and we will vary the format depending on the topic. All our Webinars, Huddles, Bitesize and Hubs will continue to be free for members.
  • Festival: Our next IoIC Festival is planned for 5-6 July. We have listened to the feedback from those who came this year and will be making 2022’s event even better. If you would like to get involved, please do look out for the call for contributions in January, as well as the Early Bird ticket sales.
  • Awards: 2022 will see us continue to recognise outstanding internal communications through our Awards programmes. Our Central and North Awards Dinner will be back at the Custard Factory Club Night in March. Our National Awards will open for entries in early February, with our dinner planned for September. This year we will also be offering a series of Awards Bitesize events to help you understand what makes an award-winning entry, you’ll hear from our judges and our award winners, you will be able to book onto these very soon.

Whilst our focus will be on improving the experience and resources for our members, we also have exciting plans for our #IChoseIC agenda.  Through our partnership programmes will be participating in more undergraduate events with our ambassadors, working with specialist organisations to widen participation, supporting apprentices with IoIC membership, and developing our internships directory to help build a more diverse and inclusive profession of the future.

In the meantime, I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New year, we can’t wait to work with you in 2022 😊

Jennifer Sproul
Chief Executive, IoIC

The IoIC will be closed from the 24th of December until the 4th of January 2022.

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