Is employee comms still the poor cousin?

Written by

Stacey Harrison
Stacey’s passion is finding new ways to help businesses connect, motivate and engage their people. That’s why she also loves crafting stories that bring people together – and unleashing the power of employee storytelling.
While the value of employee communication has increased, something as fundamental as investing in the communications capability of leaders at all levels still struggles to get funding.

We’ve been hearing for a while that internal communication is no longer the ‘poor cousin’ to what many consider to be the more ‘glamorous’ and ‘exciting’ areas of our profession: PR and media relations. But, is that really the case?

It’s certainly true that the value of employee communication has increased, and the internal and external disciplines are merging. And, why shouldn’t they? The biggest advocates for any organisation – either internally or externally – are their people. 

Yet, in talking to clients and peers, it seems internal communication remains undervalued to its external cousins. It still doesn’t attract the same large budgets as media, marketing or other external-facing programs. Many employee communication practitioners find themselves in an ongoing battle to prove their worth and fight for funding to do more than just generate internal publicity; to actually bring employees together and connect their everyday work to the organisation’s purpose, strategy and values. 

I’ve been amazed to hear various organisations say recently to us that something as fundamental as investing in building the communications capability of an organisation’s leaders at all levels still struggles to get funding. 

Aren’t we at the point where equipping leaders and line managers to effectively engage with and earn the trust of their teams should just be a standard line item in the employee communications budget? Something that you work on every year?

According to Gatehouse’s 2020 State of the Sector report, just 39% of internal communication functions offer communications training for their leaders, and yet more than 50% of line mangers are considered to be only adequate communicators. That’s a problem because line managers are the ones whose role it is to connect employees’ work to the organisation’s strategy!

Employee communication, which includes the leaders of any organisation, is absolutely critical to building and maintaining this trust. Every piece of communication can either build or erode trust. Which begs the question: why is our function still struggling to secure the funding it needs to really make a difference? 

The business need is clear.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. How easy is it for you to find budget to build the communications capability within your organisation?

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