What Will 2013 Hold for Internal Communications and Employee Engagement?

 We get a feel for what’s on the horizon not just from talking with our clients, but also by meeting with other companies, doing research and through our benchmarking sessions.

Based on what our team saw and heard in 2012, we’re stepping out with five predictions for what we’ll all see more of this year in terms of internal communications and employee engagement.

A new emphasis on engagement

Companies will make employee engagement more of a priority in 2013, in particular as a means to improve retention. In the years since the recession, most employees have felt lucky to have a job. and if the job happens to offer health insurance, they’ve been even less likely to look elsewhere.

But as the economy improves and the job market heats up, employees will once again have a choice. The scales will tilt so that companies are scrambling to keep their talent. That’s an excellent reason to make engagement a focus now.

Cranking up internal communications

As companies turn their attention to employee engagement, many of them will also see the need for more robust internal communications. We’ve talked with a number of companies that have made a commitment to expanding their employee communication channels in 2013. In some cases, these companies reduced their communications during the recession and are now feeling the need to crank up the volume again.

In other cases, companies that have never had much of an internal communications function are building departments from the ground up, expanding the staff from one or two people to an entire team. (Tribe, Inc., also recently did primary research on just what companies spend on internal communications.)

Mobile access for intranets

Last year, everybody was replacing old and dysfunctional intranets. This year, we predict a trend for taking the intranet mobile.If the intranet is going to be the hub of your communications, then you want employees to be able to access it, no matter where they are.

Establishing channels of communication for non-desk workers

We predict that one of the top trends for 2013 will be direct channels between company leadership and non-desk workers. I promise we’re not just saying that because unplugged employees happen to be one of our specialties. We’re seeing a new realization that deferring all communications for non-desk workers to their direct managers is a mistake. When there’s zero communication from corporate, non-desk workers interpret that as a lack of respect.

iPads will become more common at work

Tribe predicts you’ll see a lot more tablets in corporate settings. Companies will be providing them at conferences in order to make the meetings more interactive. Retail companies, hotels and even warehouses and distribution centers will be mounting tablets to secure stands or at freestanding kiosks for their employees to access the intranet while on the job.

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 Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin is the Founder and CEO of Tribe, Inc.(www.TribeInc.com), an internal communications agency, which partners with corporate communications and HR departments, as well as teh C-suite, to help set and execute internal communications and employee engagement strategy.  She is the author of several books, two instructional card decks and an iPhone application called “Start Your Own Company.” Her book, “Run Your Business Like a Girl,” featuring over 30 women business owners, was ranked in the Amazon Top 1,000. Tribe works with global brands like Target, Coca-Cola Refreshments and Porsche, and celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2012.