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What is the State of Workplace Communications?

In-Depth

What is the State of Workplace Communications?

Market research company Global Web Index and video hosting platform Vimeo, released a new study that explores the shifts in workplace communications.  The 2020 pandemic is regarded as the longest experiment in understanding how remote work functions. The research finds that when it comes to workplace communication – sentiment varies quite a bit based on age, industry, and seniority level. These findings also suggest an unsettling truth — that the way companies communicate corporate strategy, updates, and other crucial messages at work is in need of a fundamental transformation. Not only does the current system poorly serve the workforce of today, but it is completely misaligned with the workforce of tomorrow. Here are the findings-

The communication chasm

  • Between corporate leadership and their employees lies a vast communication chasm, with crucial information being lost in a deluge of online meetings, emails and instant message notifications.
  • Effective communication is always important —but when navigating a crisis, it is critical. Executives know this, and believe they communicate frequently and effectively.
  • Employees however paint a different picture. 54% of high-level execs say that they stream major company updates at least weekly and only 20% of employees agree with this strategy.
  • This kind of disconnect isn’t necessarily net new but the pandemic has widened the gap significantly and that poses a big problem for executives and employees alike. These divergent viewpoints impact employee engagement, morale, and — ultimately — company performance.

Business as unusual

  • The global pandemic has catalyzed the future of work.
  • The digital transition that seemed years away arrived overnight and the professional challenges of tomorrow became the challenges of today. But professionals have been increasingly working from a variety of environments even before the pandemic.
  • Since the global pandemic, however, the shift to remote has been nearuniversal for the office-based, professional workforce. It’s important to understand what new tools and processes are required to help shift the entire company in this direction.
  • According to the findings, professionals on the receiving end of better corporate communication methods — specifically video — are the early success stories.
  • In companies where management had adopted video for corporate communication before the pandemic, employees were over 50% more likely to see their organizations as being well-equipped to transition into the future of work.
  • Now during the pandemic, employees in video-savvy organizations continue to rate their companies as better adapted

  • Millennials are predicted to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025.  As this cohort matures, millennials will increasingly sit in positions of leadership, and major changes in work culture catalyzed by their unique values will become the norm. Among these is a revolution in how we communicate.
  • Millennial professionals are more likely than their older counterparts to say they want more frequent communication and, strikingly, significantly more likely to say that they want greater transparency from their leadership. More than any other medium, video allows both transparency and authenticity to shine through.

  • The findings show that communication preferences are shifting dramatically for older groups in the wake of the pandemic, as well. The direction they are shifting in is, strikingly, toward video.
  • Among Gen X, only 18% reported that they had been regularly receiving video communication from their leadership pre-pandemic. Post-pandemic, that figure grew to 28%.
  • Among millennials, this shift in video communications also grew, though less dramatically — from 31% pre-pandemic to 37% pre-pandemic.
  • Among baby boomers, the number of boomers receiving strategic communications via video nearly doubled.
  • As older professionals have begun embracing more of video due to the pandemic, this makes a compelling case for video. Embracing executive video communication will give businesses an edge in attracting and retaining younger employees, while also catering to a shift among older employees who are increasing their consumption of video.

How video can boost your KPIs

  • The findings suggest that there is a direct relationship between embracing video and higher KPIs.
  • In organizations where leadership uses video to stream corporate communications, employees are 72% more likely to rate productivity highly and 65% more likely to rate overall company performance / health highly.

  • Not all organizations have embraced video for corporate communication during the pandemic. But among those that have, employees are much more likely to feel confident in their companies’ ability to weather this crisis across all metrics of company health.
  • In video-savvy organizations, employees are 59% more likely to be confident that their companies can remain profitable and 40% more likely to feel that large-scale layoffs will be avoided.
  • According to the study, 35% of HR professionals report that the global pandemic has made training and onboarding a significant problem for their companies.
  • Over one in three HR professionals report that they have had to stop giving certain types of training entirely, feeling unable to find an effective alternative during lockdown measures. From a business perspective, the consequences of an under-trained workforce can be incredibly damaging.
  • From an employee perspective, the long-term effects might be damaging in a different way. An entire cohort of young professionals will miss out on the crucial education needed to grow into management roles.
  • But the alternatives look promising according to the study. Findings report that HR professionals are turning to live video and it’s proving to be extremely effective.

Rethinking executive presence

  • Video communication from CEO’s have managed to humanize the leadership process and create a stronger connection between the leader and his/her employees. This aspect is extremely powerful for a young workforce.
  • Our tech-first society has created the inevitable distaste for in-person interactions, no matter how small or big they are. This is extremely prevalent in the case of millenials and Gen- Z.  The findings show how this plays out at work today.
  • Only 41% of millennials and Gen Z professionals say that in-person meetings / communication make them feel like their leadership cares about its employees. This is compared to 52% of Gen X and 54% of boomers.
  • Similarly, boomers are 38% more likely than millennials and Gen Z professionals to say that in-person communication makes leadership feel more approachable.

  • There is a clear dichotomy that exists here and one that video communication can solve.
  • When leadership embraces video, employees are 33% more likely to feel aligned with their company’s goals vs. in companies where leadership does not.

  • Live video enables us to see people as they really are, stripped of the polish, filters, and scripting. And this is part of what creates that sense of connection; the liveaction, “anything could happen” quality of video offers something that is reminiscent of real life.
  • Among most business professionals, the biggest issues they find with video communication tools are technical. For executives, however, a different story emerges, one of surprising self-consciousness.
  • 22% of executives report getting distracted by their own image in the corner of a video call vs. only 9% of general professionals.
  • Execs are nearly five times as likely to be worried that their tone does not come across in the right way.

Your organization through the lens

  • As we hurtle toward the future of work, the ultimate decision for businesses becomes one of adapting or being left behind.
  • Findings from the study offer a window into this reality, revealing to us that the struggles of today will likely become insurmountable in the future if companies don’t embrace better strategic communication.
  • Nearly 40% of executives and management are concerned with employees reading, listening to, or watching critical communication in a timely fashion.
  • One-third of executives are having trouble using communication to create an inclusive culture for everyone.
  • The global pandemic has given us a glimpse into what being “left behind” really looks like, and it emphasizes the need for modern, video-first corporate communication.
  • In organizations that embraced video before the crisis, management had a much better perspective on their employees’ alignment.
  • Only 26% of these managers reported that, post-crisis, it had become harder to keep their employees informed about key strategic updates. This is compared with 42% of managers in companies where video was not adopted.
  • Misalignment and a disengaged workforce are big risks. But by adopting video successfully, from the top, companies need not risk either.

Here are the metrics for successful integration of video communication within a company

  • Maintain regularly 01 scheduled programming
  • Keep videos short, sweet, and digestible
  • Keep it simple
  • Your vulnerability is a strength, not a weakness.
  • Think beyond the town hall.

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