Groundbreaking study shows IC’s impact

Unique research and a first-of-its-kind survey show the importance of internal communication in our workplaces, and the true impact on employees.

03 Jul 2023
by Rob Jones

For the first time ever, a major internal communication study is identifying what employees across the UK want and need from internal communication.

IoIC, in partnership with Ipsos Karian and Box, has launched a research project and UK-wide survey of employees that reveals the impact IC has on employees, and how IC professionals can adapt their approach to increase engagement, trust and employee advocacy.

The aim of The IC Index is to produce an annual snapshot of employee sentiment – in the form of a detailed report based on the survey and research findings. This will challenge thinkers in IC to innovate and align with employees’ wants and needs, solidify the importance of our profession externally, and position IoIC as a credible thought leader.

Moreover, the results of the survey will help support the work of IoIC members, providing them with robust data to inform and challenge their leaders and shape IC. The findings can further be leveraged to raise awareness of internal communication in the media.

Jennifer Sproul, IoIC chief executive, says: “We talk a lot about raising the profile of the strategic role and overall impact of IC on people, and it’s something, as an institute, we are asked a lot about: what is IoIC doing to raise the profile of our profession and how does IC drive business value?

“To address this, we wanted to understand the impact from an employee perspective to guide where we need to go as a professional community to make a difference for both employees and organisations.”

The IC Index is a novel piece of research. It’s never been done before.

Ghassan Karian, CEO of Ipsos Karian and Box, says: “Other studies have tended to focus on what practitioners think is important. Up till now, our industry has not had a truly comprehensive picture of what our UK-wide audiences want. And this is where The IC Index is different. It provides a powerful picture of the needs, preferences and experiences of internal communications – helping practitioners have the voice of employees in their heads when planning future strategy and action.”

Survey highlights impact on people

The first survey took place in April 2023. The research shows that engagement was 16 points higher among people who work in organisations with a dedicated IC team, showing that communication drives engagement and trust in CEOs, while also contributing to lower attrition.

The results provide a clear insight into employees’ engagement in internal communication. For instance, 85 per cent of workers rated comms as excellent within organisations where the impact of employee feedback was made clear. This shows the value when people feel informed, connected and purposeful, ultimately improving productivity.  

One way IC professionals can have a greater impact is by favouring explicit action over implicit communication in addressing polarising topics: engagement scores were 35 points lower for workers who said they heard too little about their company’s culture and values.

Three topics identified as polarising were: purpose and mission; diversity and inclusion; and company culture and values. This type of insight will give internal comms professionals knowledge about which issues to address or talk more about.

Suzanne Peck, IoIC president, says: “This research meets one of IoIC’s long-held ambitions to dig deeper into what the UK’s employees really think about internal comms – and what they want. It’s a great opportunity to give our members solid, useable data so they can shape their own comms from a UK benchmark perspective and we know that The IC Index will be valuable ‘must-know’ research that comms professionals turn to every year from now onwards.”

Report drills down to the detail

As part of the development process of the project, thought leaders from the IC community added input that shaped the research around solutions and opportunities for internal communication. The survey itself was then carried out with a representative sample of around 3,000 people. In July 2023, a detailed report will be published, combining the insight from the community and employee research.

Overall, the report shows there is room to improve respondents’ perception of IC. Less than half of the UK workforce are “informed cheerleaders” or are generally positive about communication or their organisation.

The aim is to run The IC Index every year and monitor how engagement and employees’ needs and preferences are changing. IoIC will also use the data to inform content and its activities to support members and engage the wider business and media community.

“This is a really exciting change for us,” concludes Jennifer, “and a step up to help us drive up that narrative around how IC makes such a valuable contribution to business.” 


Just over half (53%) of UK workers say their organisation welcomes open and honest feedback, but 45% say their employer shows how feedback is used to inform action.


Six out of ten employees rely on and prefer email as a channel to hear news about and from their employer.


Almost half (45%) of UK employees are ambassadors for their employer’s strategy, but one in four are “passengers” – they neither get it nor believe in it.


One third of UK employees say they don’t hear enough about their organisation’s strategy.


Six out of ten employees rate their organisation’s internal communication as excellent, but around 10% describe it as “very poor”.


Related topics