The State of Internal Communications During a Down Economy

Linda Dulye's picture

Over the past two years we've heard in the press about how businesses have responded to the economic collapse. In general, the coverage focuses on external factors, production levels and customer-focused issues. This got us thinking about how internal communicators' role has changed, if at all, during the downturn.

At the International Association of Business Communicators' 2010 Global Conference in Toronto, last month, Dulye & Co. conducted a survey among participants to learn more about the impact of latest economic downturn on internal communication practices, employee feedback, and engagement levels of managers and employees.

Here's what we heard:

  • Despite the economic downturn, scores indicate that communications practices of senior leaders, managers / supervisors, and employees have remained the same over the last 18 months.
  • Management visibility in the workplace has changed slightly -- with more emphasis at the senior-leader level.
  • There has been some erosion in trust and openness. But, for the most part, respondents cited steadiness for both factors in communication between senior leaders and front-line employees.
  • Written feedback indicates the most difficult change has been to incorporate more candid, face-to-face communications.
  • Newsletters and other print publications were identified as the leading practice or tactic that has been eliminated. Where new practices have been added, many are online and social media approaches.

Economic conditions have driven a focus on leadership communications and support for managers / supervisors.

From these results it's clear that communicators have hunkered down to focus on the basics. As companies do the same, this makes sense. In fact, we think this approach will be helpful long-term when organizations transition to a more aggressive growth and innovation mindset. Leaders, managers and communicators will have reinforced the essential skills and practices required to drive engagement and business results.

How would you evaluate and rate communications practices at your organization over the past 18 months? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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