2021’s biggest Internal Communications gaps: Where are they and how can we close them?

Internal Communications

2021’s biggest Internal Communications gaps: Where are they and how can we close them?

Elena Nikolova

5 mins read

Fri, Sep 10, '21  


How frustrating! Another broken telephone effect of cascading Internal Comms! We have all felt it. We have all sent emails that are forwarded and forwarded and forwarded. This then prompts a gentle reminder to follow up 5 days – 5 days! – later. Not only is this inefficient in a fast-paced setting, but it’s also causing real problems for many businesses. This, of course, is only one instance of a breakdown in communication, and there are many more that need addressing. 

Thankfully research has now been conducted to dissect these issues and identify where changes can be made to improve Internal Comms. The 2021 Connect survey has unearthed some interesting statistics that can help you spot and overcome these long-standing issues. It also revealed some of the new issues that have taken root during the pandemic and the new realities of working remotely. 

The Connect 2021 survey in a nutshell

450 professionals in the United States took part in a survey to find out where the connection gaps in their company lie. Five high-profile Internal Communicators were then called upon to help solve them. Here are the main findings: 

Alignment: the major issue

    • Management is the biggest flight risk category with 43% looking to leave their company

    • The biggest issue for managers’ is the lack of alignment between leadership and IC
  • Employees are less likely to leave, however, there are still 14% actively looking for new work
  • Alignment between leadership and IC is again the issue: 48% of employees raised concern

Digital-communication tools: the solution

  • 92% of managers and 90% of employees agree that digital-communication tools help everyone get on the same page

The big takeaway from the survey is just how much value managers and employees place on digital communication tools. It also highlights that when companies are not communicating well internally, staff are more prone to leave - this is especially the case at the management level. 

Three major problem areas:

  1. Employee-connection gaps

  2. Management-connection gaps

  3. Top-level leadership connection gaps

This article will run through all three issues and offer up solutions on how to improve the wellbeing of your workforce and maintain employee retention rate. 

Employee-connection gaps

Last year offices were forced to close their doors, leading to micro workspaces appearing tucked between coffee machines, family photos, and staircases – basically anywhere that can squeeze in a laptop and a worn-down chair! Remote working looks like it’s here to stay with research continuing to demonstrate employees’ preference of it. This isn’t a bad thing either as remote working is important for both business and employees’ wellbeing. However, it has thrown up some issues when it comes to communications. According to the findings from the Connect 2021 survey: 

“44% of employees find it hard to really connect to their direct managers in these remote-working times”

If you want to resolve this, you need to help your managers talk shop. Reach out to them and tell your managers exactly what you can do for them. If you want to take immediate action, you can always turn to Jason Anthoine’s “What employees want” survey. You may be surprised to find out that their wants aren’t what you think they are. 

Another sure-fire way to improve your Internal Comms is by having a stellar intranet solution. By having a centralized place for communication, engagement, and collaboration will positively impact connectivity within your workforce. The Connect 2021 survey confirms this too, as there is a 14.5% dip in connection feel between colleagues when a company doesn’t have a winning intranet solution in place compared with those who do. Those companies with a winning intranet solution also reported a 34% increase in connection between employees and their direct managers. 

Management-connection gaps

Businesses need to address the management-connection gaps quickly. Going by the Connect 2021 survey, managers are the biggest flight risk with 43% actively looking for new employment. Physical distance has seemingly taken its toll on middle management. And as this remote working paradigm is fast becoming our new reality, we need to make sure that management can continue to work optimally. Management acts as the crucial go-between in communication between top-level leaders and employees. And with 38% of employees reported that they feel disconnected from the higher powers, there is an issue that needs resolving. 

“In this remote-reality, managers are the ones who seemingly suffer the most. While employees still feel connected and are content with the working-from-home paradigm, managers are struggling to connect and communicate”

Another issue is that 11% of managers feel estranged from their company’s vision. More troubling though, is that 25% of managers feel disconnected from top-level leadership. As they themselves are the key communicators within any company, by having only a 75% success rate is certainly something that needs addressing. 

One of the problem areas is how availability is perceived. As it stands 89% of managers believe that new employees can reach top-level management. Whereas only 36% of employees believe this to be the case. So, the first step to solving this connection gap is to stop overestimating availability.

Top tip: As corporate podcasts are the best way to increase leadership visibility, you should check out the ultimate guide to corporate podcasting to see how it can help you to close your connection gaps. 

Top-level leadership connection gaps

Leadership gaps are not top-down, but bottom-up. It is paramount to change this perspective and not to be hoodwinked by the belief that top-level leaders are reachable. Employees do not feel this, as 33% report there is not enough dialogue between themselves and top-level leaders. At the management level, there is still 14% who feel more direct dialogue is needed. A solution to this is by running a winning digital communication tool. The difference in alignment between companies that do and that don’t is astounding:  

“48% of non-winning IC users believe there is no alignment between top-level leadership and IC communication vs only 13% of users”

Internal Comms is the business engine that drives motivation, engagement, and productivity. To make sure you maximize the power of your Internal Comms, top-level leaders must speak a language that everyone understands. Top-level leaders need to be clear about business strategies. There’s a great guide that can help you boost your Internal Comms strategy available. Not only will following this guide help your leaders see the benefits of engaging in Internal Comms, but it will also help you align your strategy to business objectives. 

Digital communication tools: the solution

Getting your whole workforce has so many benefits. We all know them. However, what was unexpected is that a breakdown in communications can have such serious ramifications. The Connect 2021 survey has brought these to light and pinpointed that it is the management level most likely to file their resignation letters if changes aren't made. It's not all troublesome though, as the survey also revealed that a winning Internal Communication strategy is what employee and management both crave in their organizations. Good digital communication tools can hold back the Great Resignation.