The Gatehouse Blog

We hate to tell you: digital won’t solve all your problems

Let me guess – you are like millions of other people right now, scrolling through your social media or checking out a news article on your mobile. You might even be accessing your company intranet or employee app as you commute into work. It’s pretty hard to ‘switch off’ these days when accessibility is just so easy and let’s be honest, few of us would find it difficult to simply turn off the notifications and resist the urge to see what is happening in your personal (or professional) life at the click of a button.

Results from last year’s State of the Sector showed us that our unwavering faith in digital as the holy grail of internal communication continues. In 2019, improving digital channels was the third biggest priority and respondents were set to increase usage of six of the 12 digital channels listed in the survey. Almost half of people told us that internal technology at their organisation is simply not fit for purpose, which makes sense as to why this is a priority for many. After all, we’ve all heard the saying, ‘there’s an app for that’. But just because something is available, doesn’t mean it’s the answer.

We would argue that dialling up or adding certain channels can actually lead to more noise in an organisation, which is the number one blocker to successful internal communication. More often than not, when we deliver IC audit reports to our clients, one of the main issues we see is that employees are saying messages lack relevance and they are concerned important messages are simply getting lost in the clutter of different channels. This is where we need to look within and turn to the all-important human channel: leaders and line managers.

While certain aspects of our lives might be more automated then in the past, we are still human and want to feel a part of something, not just another clog in the wheel. Leadership and line managers can humanise messages for employees, and translate complex strategies into communication that is simple, relevant and tangible. Something an app or digital platform can’t do on its own. We do recognise this is important for many organisations, alongside digital, as 36 per cent of people told us they were be focusing on enhancing leadership communications in 2019, although only one in five people were aiming to improve line manager communication.

Unfortunately there isn’t a simple answer and we certainly aren’t suggesting a mass exodus away from digital! From our research, however, there does seem to be a need for balance. What is it like in your organisation? Does digital still reign supreme or are you finding success with leadership and line manager communication?