Communication in a Digital Age
The demographics of the workforce have changed over the last several decades. The ways that most organizations communicate with their people have not.
In 2007, a study showed that seventy four percent of business communicators said that communications within their organizations are done virtually the same today as they were years ago. (Deloitte, Survey of International Business Communicators, 2007). Even though this data is a few years old, it still rings true today.
That same study showed that three quarters of professional business communicators actually believe that their communication methods are ineffective or only slightly effective in today’s day and age. And sadly, most of them admit that they don’t even really understand the communication preferences of the more tech savvy members of the workforce.
Workers of all ages, if they’re technologically savvy, want to see a full range of communication types – not just your typical newsletter, posters or even email campaigns. If you make new vehicles available, people will use them. Not using technology is missing a huge opportunity.
Newer tech savvy workers want information at their fingertips, on demand. They are communal – they connect and form groups with software and virtual environments. They want to improvise and create networks on the fly to meet issues. And they are mobile, linking in anywhere at any time.
Technology can be especially useful for communicating and engaging people during times of significant organizational change. During change, people commonly seek to re-establish their own sense of support, understanding, and control.
People naturally seek community and inclusion during times of change so they don’t feel like they are going it alone. Social networking sites and controlled environments for people to connect can help people develop a sense of support.
In the midst of change, people crave information, often filling in the blanks so that they can fit themselves and their future into the new context. Wikis and other human intelligence aggregators help people develop deeper understanding.
When an organization is going through change, people look to regain what they perceive as a loss of control. They often think that change is happening “to” them. By networking and actively searching for information on demand, people feel like they are taking control of their situation which helps them navigate through change.
While technology can be an important communication tool, don’t forget that people still prefer to interact face to face with people. People can be engaged through face to face interactions much more successfully than any other way. What leaders do is still more important than what they say. And trust is still a foundation that can’t be shaken. But technology can be a tremendous communications tool. Used properly, it can help inform and share information, engage employees, create communities, and align leaders