6 Things I Learned at Ragan’s Future of Communications Conference ’23
Head of Expert Services at Workvivo
14 Dec 2023
Colum Nugent, Head of Expert Services at Workvivo, shares his favorite learnings from Ragan's Future of Communications Conference 2023.
Looking back on 2023, one of the highlights of my year was going to Ragan’s Future of Communications Conference in Austin. It was super exciting to see 500 communicators come together and talk about some of most important trends affecting teams around the world, from hybrid working and employee recognition to AI and crisis comms.
Here’s a summary of the top points I took home with me.
1. Workplace trust is still crucial
Leaders still need to actively cultivate a strong sense of trust across their organizations. The good news is that CEOs feel a heightened sense of responsibility to lead internal and external communications, and there is a growing level of trust between CEOs and internal comms teams.
Genuine trust will only become more important as we prepare to navigate new challenges in the workforce, so this was music to my ears.
2. IC teams feel more valued, but there’s plenty more work to be done
While 75% of internal communicators feel that leadership recognizes the value of internal comms – great! – over half (52%) of companies still don’t have a long-term internal comms strategy – not so great!
What’s more, most internal communicators still don’t have an internal comms budget, meaning they aren’t getting the buy-in they need from their executive teams and the resources they require to do their jobs.
The fact that leaders see improved company culture as the biggest benefit of successful internal comms is evidence in itself that they should be devoting more time and money to it.
3. Employee experience is top of mind
The link between internal comms and employee experience is only becoming more apparent. In fact, internal communication has the single biggest impact on employee retention and people manager enablement – two areas that are hugely important to organizational success.
It’s no wonder, then, that employee experience and proving ROI are the top two trends in internal comms today.
4. Appetite for technology is only increasing
When it comes to workplace technology, AI is what jumps to mind. It was a prominent point of discussion throughout the conference in both Internal and External Comms talk tracks.
The consensus? Teams are still feeling pretty ambiguous as to how we can best leverage this to enhance our communications strategies. But 70% of communicators say they’re ready to embrace it, while 14% are worried that AI might replace or add risk to our jobs.
Aside from AI, most internal comms professionals still don’t use any third-party communication tools or solutions, like an employee experience platform. The vast majority – 91% – rely on email to communicate in a hybrid or remote work environment, and email newsletters and outdated intranets are the most popular internal comms channels.
And yet, content creation remains the most time-consuming part of an internal communicator’s job. Clearly, something’s got to change.
5. We’re embracing different ways of messaging
As demand for content continues to grow, internal communicators are finding more ways to deliver it. Video, for example, is becoming a staple of communicating with internal audiences – and Millennials and Gen Z employees have come to simply expect this.
Video certainly seems like the way to go, seeing as 90% of information is retained if watched in a video compared to just 10% from text.
54% of consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support and 48% of professionals consider video as the most engaging form of communication.
6. Measuring internal comms remains a head-scratcher
While so many companies are operating without a dedicated internal comms tool, professionals in this field are struggling to measure the outcomes of their work. In fact, 72% of internal communicators see this as their biggest challenge.
In turn, that means that the vast majority – 76% – find it difficult to showcase the impact of internal comms. Currently, they predominantly rely on employee feedback to prove it, which makes the case for two-way communication tools in the workplace even stronger.
Putting things in perspective with Exos
I also had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle Lajoie, who’s VP of Communications, Sports Marketing & Social Impact at Exos, who are one of our customers here at Workvivo.
We talked about the transformational power of bringing organizational purpose to life through company values, employee ambassadors, and measuring impact. Here are the key points that stuck with me after our chat.