For Professional Internal Communication in Medium-sized businesses
Medium-sized companies in Germany are currently facing several challenges. Two of these are closely linked to internal communication: digitalisation and the shortage of skilled workers. Digitalisation and the shortage of skilled workers have been foreseeable and frequently discussed topics for decades. However, it is interesting to ask why many small and medium-sized enterprises still feel overwhelmed by these issues. Why are these challenges coming to a head now?
THEORY #1: DIGITALISATION IS MORE THAN JUST DIGITALISATION
The production machines are interconnected for digital production. Microsoft Teams is introduced for digital collaboration. For the development of digital products, a department with the same name is established. Digitalisation is accomplished. Or maybe not? Many companies are currently experiencing digitalisation having a far greater impact than they originally expected.
Firstly, digital transformation is a huge change process that can be managed professionally, but sometimes is not managed very well. There are fears, defence reactions and hope, rumours and grapevine, enthusiasts and objectors. A lot of money and working time can be wasted in debates and failed initiatives, and employees do not always apply the new systems as planned.
Secondly, digitalisation changes the whole company. The expectations placed on employees are becoming higher, the need for qualifications is increasing, and more personal responsibility is demanded. The roles of managers are also changing – from boss to coach, so to speak. Patriarchal management styles and rigid hierarchical thinking do not sit well within a networked, cross-team working organisation. All of this has an impact on corporate and leadership culture. A potential collision between old and new creates conflicts. In this situation there is an increased need for shared information, communication and dialogue.
THEORY #2: DIGITAL NATIVES TAKE THE LEAD
Digital natives are those born after 1980 who grew up using the internet. If you are now thinking of a few nerdy software developers who have just finished their university education, think again. The first digital natives will celebrate their 40th birthday in 2020. This means that they have already arrived into a wide range of positions, in everything from design to HR to middle management or CEOs. And there are millions of them.
Among the employees subject to social insurance contributions in Germany, almost 44 percent are 40 years old or younger. In fact, the digital natives will soon be the majority.
These people make different demands on communication in their companies. They are people who read their news online or in an app, access videos for entertainment and advice, and receive hourly updates from friends and family around the world. They expect fast, uncomplicated, and configurable media formats – in their personal lives and also at work. This increases the pressure on internal communication.
Theory #3: THE company’s MOST IMPORTANT CUSTOMERS ARE THE EMPLOYEES
So here it is, the skills shortage. Understanding this is critical to success. In some cases, it can even go so far that recruiting new employees becomes more important than winning new customers. This is simply because there is not enough staff to handle new tasks, so the company cannot grow without the right people. In many industries, HR managers have enormous difficulties filling vacancies. The choice is sparse. The costs for employer branding and recruitment are growing. Once the new employees are on board, they need extensive training. Everything has become even more complicated due to digitalisation.
It becomes increasingly important to offer existing employees an attractive environment with the elements they expect. They should not only enjoy a great workplace, but also feel valued and informed. Many factors contribute to this, including professional internal communication using modern digital channels.
CONCLUSION: INTERNAL COMMUNICATION BECOMES MORE IMPORTANT
In our opinion, the importance of internal communication is growing rapidly at present. So what needs to be done? A lot can be achieved with the initiative of individual employees. However, if you take the challenges seriously, you need to plan internal communications into budgets and build up know-how throughout the corporation. Without the investment of time, money, and learning, professionalisation will be difficult if not impossible to achieve – not only in internal communications, but in many areas.
responding to the changing times: PR SÜD BECOMES CHANGE YOUR MIND
If our thinking is correct, there is only one logical conclusion: In July 2020, PR South will become Change your Mind: New name, new logo, new direction, new office. With this, we are making it clear that we are here to support medium-sized companies to change, grow and succeed in these challenging times.
We want to work with you on professional internal communication. We are experts at improving communication for companies’ change processes and designing internal communication strategies that suit the whole company, especially the digital natives. We are looking forward to it!