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7 trends in corporate communications for 2021

2020 showed the world how quickly and easily the plans and trends set for the year may be broken down. But we all want to believe that life will soon return to its usual rhythm, don't we?

The Workstories team has been conducting a large study on internal communications since last March, and we have managed to communicate with experts from all over the world. After analyzing the experience and opinions of 15 top companies, we identified some tendencies that should be taken into account when building a corporate culture and choosing IT tools for personnel management. We have collected 7 corporate communications trends that we expect in 2021.
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1. 100% digital

The COVID-19 pandemic hit hard and it also significantly accelerated the digitalization of most business sectors. For many, remote work has become permanent, so the ability to do business from anywhere is beginning to look like the most important superpower for any company in 2021. After all, there are many exciting examples of how switching to working remotely did not only save the company in critical circumstances, but increased the efficiency of work. For example, JD Edwards remote employees are 20–25% more productive than their office counterparts, American Express workers produced 43% more than their office based colleagues and Compaq has increased its productivity by 15–45% thanks to remote mode. This became possible due to fewer breaks during the working day and the overall increase in staff satisfaction.

2. Everybody goes online!

2020 has put us firmly in our sweatpants and homes, as well as it has brought innovation to communication. Conferences, summits, and exhibitions are now all held online and are available to professionals from any part of the planet. Unfortunately, only those who manage to transform their processes and adapt to the online format will have a chance to survive. Many people have learned not only to develop, but also to have fun online, as any corporate party can now be arranged without leaving your home. One of the most successful examples of online transformation we'd like to mention is the company EventyOn (formerly known as CulinaryOn) — a Russian organizer of culinary master classes. 85% of EventyOn classess are now held in online format. Thanks to this flexibility, the company managed to reduce business losses to a minimum, and this was not an easy task. The event organizer also changed its positioning, expanding the range of services provided, including wine casinos, art parties and many other formats. In US even Santa Clause had to go online, congratulating kids all over the world through video conferences. Can you imagine what we'll experience later this year?

3. Diversity, equality, inclusion

2020 has definitely told us: no more empty talk and promises. Each and every reputable company will have to attract candidates from different countries, cultures, of different religious movements and social strata. Many companies have already focused on the development of cultural diversity among their employees, emphasizing the advantages of this approach, and in 2021 this trend is believed to intensify. For example, IT giant Intel has declared enriching diversity and inclusion as one of the main goals of its own RISE 2030 development program. Borders are gradually being erased — today those who previously did not have access to highly qualified positions get their chance to work in world's greatest companies, while staying in appropriate conditions at home.

4. An engaged team

Employee engagement is based on trust, integrity, commitment, and regular communication between the company and its employees. You can measure engagement by interviewing staff and then statistically evaluating the responses received. This indicator has never been so important before. When the whole team is working from home, you have to be even more creative to bring it together. The main goal for 2021 is to maintain physical and mental health of employees, provide effective team building, and reach maximum motivation. Results of Harvard Business Review research state that 92% of business executives believe that engaged employees perform better, boosting the success of their teams and the outcomes of their organizations. So engagement is useful not only for employees in terms of their motivation and overall perception of their workplace, but also for the company and its business results. This metric is also becoming more and more important when choosing an employer as competitive candidates strive to choose the most rewarding and place to work at. To keep the team engaged in 2021, it's recommended to apply innovative products and services, but more on that in next paragraphs.

5. Innovation is key!

Exciting and bold ideas that capture media attention, connect the virtual and the physical, engage employees, and strengthen the corporate culture will now become more important than ever. Therefore, it is important to choose the most effective tools for this explosive year. The market of IT products and services for personnel management is growing by leaps and bounds. S0, how do you choose a technology that suits your team? Carefully evaluate the main issues in internal communications, how much you are willing to invest in the development of corporate culture, and conduct a survey among employees. Many services provide free access for a limited period — feel free to experiment. Keep in mind, in 2021 it's recommended to choose a centralized tool that combines several useful features at once, such as Microsoft Teams, Discord, Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) and others.

6. Big Brother is watching you

According to Deloitte research, employees spend 25% of their working time on their personal life — checking email, answering messages, scrolling through social media. This can significantly reduce their efficiency. Many employers have added up measures to monitor their employees during remote work. In 2021, software for employee monitoring will remain great demand, but at the same time, new restrictions for employers will appear, outlining the scope of what the company can control, given the growing importance of personal data security and privacy.

7. The power of data

Greater role of various HR metrics in making key business decisions is expected, assisting companies in building plans and forecasts for the future. Effective data analysis will also help HR teams in developing strategies to retain talent, which in turn will strengthen company's capabilities, especially in these difficult times. There are numerous indicators, and each specialist has to choose key ones based on the company's sphere of activity, number of employees and its own experience in personnel management. The most important metrics are employee turnover, performance, employee engagement, talent acquisition and training costs, talent retention rate and others. You should also take into consideration that the simpler it is to evaluate these indicators the better — automated analytical processes are recommended.
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The world is changing together with the way we communicate with each other. Being able to recognize new trends, staying flexible and ready to transform, as well as having a set of trusted tools are key to success in 2021. Internal communications have undergone perhaps the biggest transformation in recent years.
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