TUESDAY 13 JUN 2023 10:53 AM


Frank Wolf, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Staffbase, explores the potential of emerging technology for employee engagement.

Keeping employees engaged and informed has always been important. But over the last few years against an uncertain external backdrop, the role of internal communicators (ICs) has evolved significantly. They have become more of a strategic business unit, acting as trusted advisors to senior leadership and a reliable source of information to employees, particularly in times of crisis.

As the role has shifted, technology has too. Platforms that enable great employee communication are now a must-have, with Staffbase research finding all ICs have adopted some form of employee communications technology. With the appropriate tools, ICs can execute a multi-channel communications strategy, tailoring their approach to ensure the right information is reaching the right people at the right time.

Take deskless workers as an example. Traditional forms of communication like email don’t work as well for people on the road or on the factory floor. By implementing a mobile app or digital signage ICs can keep those working away from a computer just as informed and engaged as employees working in the office.

This way, internal communication can become more than just a megaphone for company announcements. It can help to transform company culture, create positive outcomes with a more engaged workforce and ensure leaders are visible to guide employees through uncertain times.

With so many tools available, however, how do you go about choosing one that fits your workforce? And what evolving technologies - from AI to next generation intranets - should you have on your radar?

Choosing the right technology - where to start?

There’s a number of employee communications tools and platforms out there suitable for any business, regardless of size or budget. While deciding where to start can feel overwhelming, there are a few things to consider to make the process easier.

Firstly, assessing your budget is key. Ask questions like ‘what features does my budget allow me to prioritise?’, ‘is the business likely to grow enough that I need a scalable platform?’ and ‘will it provide me with the features we need now and in the future?’.

Next, it’s crucial to think about your audience. Ask yourself whether you need to reach employees through different devices (laptops, mobile, tablets). And do you want to gather employee feedback via surveys? Then look for a platform that incorporates the best solutions for your workforce, such as a modern front-door intranet or employee app.

Also consider the level of support you need from a provider. Digitally transforming internal comms is a big step. After doing the research, choosing a provider that will be a partner committed to continued success is important.

What’s on the horizon?

The employee communications software market is growing rapidly and with that comes increased innovation to help bolster internal communications strategies. It’s clear that the communications industry is undergoing a revolutionary transformation thanks to technology.

An area that is changing quickly is intranets. Intranets can now integrate employee apps to create a holistic employee communications platform. This is something we’ll see even more of in the next two to five years. More companies will adopt a front-door intranet to give a ‘company campus’ feel, catering to employees from every generation and reaching them with targeted content.

We also have the hot topic of the moment - generative AI. When integrated into employee communications platforms, AI has the potential to be an effective personal assistant to overworked teams. But there are also risks. While embracing AI is important, we need to ensure employee communications remains genuine, especially when creating content attributed to leaders and employees.

Human touch first

For a role that relies heavily on empathy and strategic counsel, striking the right balance between the human touch and technology will always be critical. When used correctly, technology can supercharge your strategy, ensuring your carefully thought-out communications reaches employees regardless of location, amplifies voices and makes leadership more visible, creating a more engaged and supported workforce.