Addressing the Top Employee Communication Challenges of 2022
Last updated on May 24, 2022 at 04:14 pm
What we prepare for in any given year might not reflect how the year actually goes. And the last few years have been full of unanticipated challenges. That’s why we want to get real about the top communication challenges of 2022 will be and what we can do about them.
Employee Comms Challenges Over The Years
To understand what lies ahead in 2022, we have to look back at the last two years. The COVID-19 pandemic brought many employee communications challenges into the light. Many of these have been ongoing issues, but many were created as a result of the health crisis.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Programs
The events of 2020 created a surge in demand for DEI Initiatives. The challenge many communicators and HR professionals have faced is getting leadership buy-in and adequate resources to drive this important work. Although we have a role to play with advancing DEI efforts, this needs to be something our executive leadership sponsors.
If you’re still struggling to get your DEI program off the ground, here’s what you should do:
- Educate your leaders. People need to understand “why” we’re doing something to be bought in. And there are great resources out there that will help you make your case.
- Ask employees what they need. If nothing else, having data specific to your organization should be a wake-up call. And giving your employees a voice is always important, especially since we’re talking about creating more inclusive workplaces.
COVID-19 Policy Communication
In 2021, COVID-19 vaccine communications were a huge employee communication challenge. The pain point here was defining your stance. Is it mandatory? Are you going to incentivize getting the vaccine? What about helping to educate your employees? And this is ongoing. Companies are still going back and forth on mask and vaccine mandates and whether or not they will return to the office. Figuring out your policies is key to putting together a comprehensive communications plan. If you still need help with this, check out this resource.
Information Overload, Burnout, and Leadership Comms Frequency
Throughout the pandemic, there has been a surge of information overload. At the start of the pandemic, many leaders rose to the challenge and started communicating more regularly…and then we all started to burn out. Keeping up the leadership communications momentum has been a struggle. Our advice:
- Include questions about leadership comms in your pulse surveys to understand how much employees want to receive executive comms.
- Show leaders the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, which says it’s critical for CEOs to publicly speak about important issues and topics that matter to their employees.
Global Impacts of the Pandemic
The global fallout of the pandemic has been extreme and created three large challenges:
- Gaps between countries regarding their COVID-19 response. Especially at global organizations, employees are not all having the same COVID-19 experience. Some countries are still experiencing spikes of cases or a much slower rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine than the United States. If our communications were not targeted and aware of these stark differences, you might struggle with additional strain on your workforce. And it’s important to not lose sight of your wellbeing and support programs for frontline workers who still haven’t gotten a break.
- The Great Resignation. Employees quit in droves in 2021, which will continue to impact hiring and retention efforts well into 2022, if not longer. This has brought into light the importance of company values, workplace culture, as well as inclusive and transparent employee communication.
- Supply chain distress. This impacted some industries more than others, but we have all begun to feel the impacts personally.
Top Internal Communication Challenges of 2022
After two years of pandemic communications and uncertainty, it finally feels like we’re returning to some normalcy. And with that, our priorities are shifting. According to the 2022 State of the Sector from Gatehouse, the top five communication challenges of 2022 are:
- Disengaged employees
- Lack of capacity or human resources on the internal communications team
- Lack of analytics or measurement capability
- Poor manager communication skills
- Internal technology was not fit for purpose
|2022 Internal Communications Challenges||%|
|Lack of capacity or human resources in my team||32%|
|Lack of analytics / measurement||27%|
|Poor people manager communication skills||27%|
|Internal technology not fit for purpose||22%|
|Volume of communication is too high||22%|
|Lack of clear direction from the top||20%|
|Lack of advance notice for corporate announcements||12%|
|Lack of involvement in decision making||12%|
|Non-wired / deskless employees||12%|
|Teleworking / remote employees||11%|
|Lack of financial resource||11%|
|Too many internal communication channels||9%|
|Lack of distinct internal brand||9%|
|Lack of support from senior leaders||8%|
|Lack of skills / experience in my team||7%|
|Lack of structure / organization in my team||6%|
And based on these challenges, internal communications professionals will focus on:
- Engaging their teams around the company’s purpose, strategy, and values
- Adapting their employee communication channel strategy to hybrid working
- Enhancing manager communication
- Building up the internal communication function
- Improving impact measurement and evaluation
Planning for the Unplanned
There are always challenges that pop up throughout the year that we can’t predict. This is why it’s so important to create strategies and processes that plan for the unplanned. By planning for worst-case scenarios and preparing emergency crisis response plans, we can set ourselves up to weather unexpected (even unprecedented) events. This will not only make it easier for you to launch an employee communication strategy, but it will set your teams up for success as well.
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