New Year: Digital trends for 2018

New Year, new challenges

The New Year is upon us and with the start of 2018, come new trends that will revolutionise how we engage with employees, reach out to customers and expand online visibility.

Through cloud technology, artificial intelligence and responsive channels, technology has already affected how companies utilise digital devices to communicate with internal and external audiences.

As we embrace the New Year, we look at what trends are set to further change your communications channels and how to prepare your workforce for the takeover.

Read about the top three digital trends:

Chatbots

Chatbots are virtual assistants animated by artificial intelligence intended to deliver real-time answers to customers. Global tech business, Oracle, found that 80% of brands expect to use them for customer interaction by 2020.  One such system which combines AI technology with data is IBM Watson.  A supercomputer with combined data storage of over 200 million pages of information processed against six million logic rules, the software can analyse the relevant information and make recommendations in real time.

In action: Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance in Japan replaced 30 employees with the AI system, believing it would increase productivity by 30% and see a return on its investment in less than two years.

Mass personalisation

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Mass personalisation is the act of creating campaigns or websites targeted to specific audience’s history.  It enables recipients to focus on what’s relevant to them at the time it matters.  For organisations, it allows them to micro-target individuals or groups; giving them relevant information that affects their specific role as and when needed.

In action: Last year Virgin Group introduced the next generation in engagement software.  Virgin Pulse Hub, a dynamic engagement and communication portal connects employees with relevant HR and benefits tools, programs and information.  It enables administrators to segment messages across a variety of factors, including age, location and health risk factors; delivering them in ways that resonate with employee populations.

Remote workforces

Remote workforces are when employees work outside the ‘traditional’ office environment.  With over 96 million workers using mobile devices to do their jobs, companies are fast discovering the overall benefits of employing staff remotely.

In action: Buffer, a social media schedule platform company has more than 80 employees working in several different countries.  ‘Courtney Seiter, Buffer’s Inclusivity Catalyst, shares that instead of having a hybrid remote and on-site environment, Buffer “does everything 100% remote first to create that feeling of inclusivity and equality across the board.”’

How to prepare your office for 2018

As we begin the new year, preparation can ensure a stress-free agenda.  Develop a plan for 2018 by encompassing tactics which can help improve and strengthen key elements of the business.  Utilise the five key areas when developing your strategy for the coming year, helping provide practical solutions in a short space of time:

Employer brand review

A great employer brand is one that both customers and staff will want to be a part of.  Review how it is currently perceived and how it can be improved forecasting key milestones to improve your employer brand.  Think about the attractiveness of the company, the core message and culture you have built.

Challenge preparation

Consider factors which may affect your business, staff and your customers.  Think about the up and coming digital trends; would they improve efficiency, increase online visibility or reduce costs? Use this time to research key events which may affect audiences such as GDPR or Brexit, helping address potential risks to your business.

Identify new opportunities

Use the New Year to explore new marketing tactics, thinking about mass personalisation, social channels and networking events. Consider new products or services or even reinventing how you package them up. Encourage staff to feed ideas for economic growth and provide incentives for internal contributions.

Financial downtime

Carry out a financial review of current costs and identify if you’re getting value for money or if costs could be better used elsewhere.  Do you have a bonus scheme in place for employees?  Assess how best to deliver these and what the bonuses are measured on including performance, sales or time of servitude.

Review and prepare a comms plan

A comms audit can help identify which channels work; identify common weaknesses and measure the overall effectiveness.  Assess who you are communicating with, internally and externally, how you could improve the comms channel and the best medium to adapt to deliver key messages.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on strategy preparation and internal communication, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Internal communications value as told by CIPR Inside

Value of internal communications

Internal communications group of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations: CIPR Inside recently submitted their latest report on the value of internal communication as perceived by CEO’s and IC professionals.  Focusing on the perceived value and interactivity of internal communication with senior leadership teams, the paper offered insight and exploration over a much-discussed topic.

Defining terminologies

The report identified that ‘when defining internal communication, many of the IC practitioners …surveyed used the terms ‘internal communication’ and ‘employee engagement’ interchangeably’.

But what is the value of internal communication and employee engagement, how is it viewed in the industry and is there a defining difference?

Internal communication

Internal communications has long been defined as the functionality responsible for effective communications between internal staff members within an organisation.  The CIPR report states that CEO’s saw IC practitioners as ‘custodians of translating strategy, company values and priorities’.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement is an emotional commitment between an employer and their employees; creating an environment that is engaging and retrospective to the culture they are trying to achieve.

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Although interconnected through their primary focal point – employees – both are equally different through their purpose and delivery.  Where one focuses on how and what to communicate internally, the other looks at the why and who; defining the context and environment of delivering the communication and to whom.

In VMA Group’s Inside Insight 2017 report, 92% of senior leadership either understand, are on board with or appreciate the importance of internal communication but incredibly, only 8% of British employees feel engaged at work.

All CEOs interviewed for the latest CIPR report expressed concern around not communicating key messages and purpose to employees. They believed that if employees did not understand the priorities and the organisational direction, their motivation and effectiveness was less lower!

Can we build a unifying relationship?

Internal communications provides the strategic knowhow and the channels to deliver key yet effective messages within an organisation.  However, it is the foundation of employee engagement which positions the reason behind those messages. And it provides the background of who they are projected at.

Can they work in parallel of each other – absolutely!  Both accentuate the employee voice;  both are platforms to strengthen and improve the communication and culture of an organisation.  The synergy of internal communications and employee engagement has the power to influence and change the culture of an organisation!

It is the role of senior leaders to identify the capacity of both functionalities.  Treating them retrospectively as separate functions provides a more encompassing and powerful method to communicate and engage with staff.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how we can help communicate internally and engage audiences, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

How GDPR will affect your business

What is GDPR?

GDPR is EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, a new directive that will enforce businesses to install stronger data security and privacy rules for protecting personal data.  These regulations supersede any previous legislation and will come into force in May next year.  Failure to comply can result in fines of up to 4% of global annual turnover!

As 2017 has already become a frantic scramble to prepare for next year’s GDPR, we provide a rundown of who the regulations affect and how you can prepare for the milestone.

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The GDPR applies to anyone who ‘controls or processes’ personal data in and outside the EU.  That includes profit-seeking companies to IT firms, charities to agencies.  The responsibility of handling data falls to both sides; those that collect and manage data and those who process and maintain data records.

 

How does it affect you?

The new regulations will force all companies to control and manage how and why they process personal data. Data can only be used for a specific purpose.  Once companies have achieved that purpose, they must delete the data.

What is personal data?

Personal data includes any information which can identify a specific person.  This includes economic, cultural or mental health information, IP addresses and the existing definitions covered under the Data Protection Act as it currently stands.

How do I get consent once the GDPR is in place? This is when good recording keeping comes into play!  All companies who ‘control’ personal data must keep a record of how and why they obtained that information; it must record how they will process it. And it must provide the opportunity for individuals to amend or check the data held on file; or withdraw consent at any one time.

The GDPR mandates that consent must be ‘freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous’. You will no longer be able to have a pre-ticked box and opt-in based on inactivity.

Data breaches & penalties

If there has been a breach to the data you hold on file, you must contact your data protection authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office, within 72 hours of discovering the leak.  Companies who do not meet this time frame can face penalties of up to £10 million or 2% of their global annual revenue; whichever is greater.

Failure to comply with the new regulations can also incur penalties of up to £20 million or 4% of your global annual turnover – whichever is greater.

Don’t be caught out by the new regulations and prepare yourself for next year’s stringent regulations; giving you piece of mind and the reduced risk of astronomical fines.  To guide you through the process, read the full article here.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

 At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on securing your data and how to manage the GDPR change, call or email us today and let us show you how engagement can boost your organisation.

Guest blog: Speak with one voice

Internal and external communication as one

In a healthy organisation, the internal and external communications functions are close; it is a matter of basic coherence and integrity that strategic narratives to both audiences are broadly the same. The challenge is that in some organisations the internal communications function can lack status; whereas that of the external communications can prompt cynicism. For an organisation’s success it is vital that both speak with one voice.

There are matters of commercial confidentiality, but the organisation should express the same values. There should be clarity about who the company is, what it stands for, and what it’s doing, in the broader narratives. If different stories start to emerge externally, compared with practices and messages internally, this is a warning sign; an indicator of a disconnect between strategic planning and operational reality. Bringing internal and external communications together as part of strategy-setting, scenario planning and operations ensures that plans fulfil their potential.

The importance of honest and open communication

In an organisation with integrity, the marketing, personnel, research, production and senior executive departments are speaking consistently. They communicate with each other, around a shared objective of understanding the customer journey, and how well the company serves its customers when interacting with them.

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Honest and open communication is encouraged, and in both directions; such organisations treat an honest and reasonable complaint, from a customer or an employee, as a learning opportunity; as a chance to improve that customer journey and the employee’s experience.

You can test the honesty of your communications with surveys and with data. Your perception may be that you put the customer first, but have satisfaction ratings dipped in the past six months? If so, do you know why? What do your employees say about your organisation? Have your employee engagement levels dropped? And how has this affected your organisation’s performance?

How is feedback providing an opportunity?

Senior leaders, marketing, internal communications and HR should be inviting and actively seeking feedback from customers and employees at regular intervals. Annual surveys provide a broad insight into engagement and overall satisfaction; augment this with regular pulse surveys, focus groups, morning tea breaks or huddles.

Listening to feedback is the first step, acting upon it the second and arguably the more important step. Each feedback providing an opportunity to encourage interaction, engage in honest conversation and bring internal and external communication closer together by sharing success stories, acknowledging ideas for improvement, and celebrating progress.

The challenges of improving performance, boosting employee engagement, and bringing the internal and external communications together, are all closely linked activities. They are not separate departments, but distinct disciplines that form part of a collective endeavour to improve the experience for the customer and the employee with your organisation now and into the future.

Philip Whiteley is an author and journalist specialising in workplace culture and the link to organisation performance.

Have your say and tweet us @ClearVoiceComms

At ClearVoice™, we are experts in delivering employee communications and engagement solutions. We inspire and motivate your workforce to increase your company’s productivity and profits. For more information on how to use feedback from customer satisfaction and employee engagement surveys to improve your organisation’s performance, call or email us today and let us show you how communication can boost your organisation.