Unpacking VOICES 2023: Key takeaways for internal communication and HR professionals

Written by
May 4, 2023
Employee Experience

Unpacking VOICES 2023: Key takeaways for internal communication and HR professionals

As the CEO of the Engage Group, I'm passionate about bringing you the best and latest in internal communication trends. That's why I attended the VOICES 2023 Conference in New York City. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn from industry experts who shared insights on crucial topics like organisational resilience, demystifying ROI in internal comms, and crafting an impactful corporate narrative. I've done my best to provide you with an overview of the key takeaways from the most useful sessions that I attended.

The humble newsletter is now the most trusted source of information

According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, company newsletters are now more trusted than mainstream media. This revelation highlights the vital role we, as internal communicators, play in providing reliable information to our employees. In times of uncertainty, it's crucial for our organisations to have a trusted channel of communication to keep teams informed and connected. I’ve summarised some of the key implications below …

1. Trust in traditional media has declined: The study reveals that trust in traditional media sources has been on the decline, with people increasingly looking for alternative, more reliable sources of information. This shift presents an opportunity for internal communicators to become that trusted source for their employees.

2. Employees trust their employers: The Edelman Trust Barometer found that employees place a high level of trust in their employers. As a result, company newsletters can serve as a trusted communication channel that provides accurate and timely information.

3. CEOs as credible sources: The Barometer also highlights the importance of CEOs being seen as credible sources of information. Internal communicators can leverage this credibility by involving CEOs, sharing their perspectives and insights on critical issues.

This last point is particularly important, especially when it comes to authenticity. The implications of AI-generated media and the potential to impersonate CEOs cannot be understated. As it becomes increasingly difficult for people to distinguish between what is real and what is fake, establishing credible channels and authentic voices will become even more important.

Debunking AI and ChatGPT

Overnight, the word ‘ChatGPT’ has become a permanent part of our daily lexicon, with profound implications for communicators. During the conference, we took a hard look at what these technologies mean for our sector and distinguished the hype from real innovation.

Here are the top 5 takeaways on the rise of AI …

1. AI won't replace you. Someone using AI might. Embrace AI and utilise it to streamline your workload. AI can help analyse data, optimise content, and automate repetitive tasks, freeing up time for more strategic initiatives.

2. Spend less time creating and more time being a strategic advisor. With AI handling the heavy lifting, you can focus on providing strategic advice to leadership and developing creative communication strategies that resonate with your audience.

3. AI media will blur the lines of reality – create trusted channels. We covered this point earlier but it’s worth repeating. As AI-generated content becomes more sophisticated, it's essential to establish trusted channels that employees can rely on for accurate and authentic information.

4. Become an AI champion and teach leaders and employees how to use it effectively. As an internal communicator, you have the unique opportunity to educate your organisation on AI's potential and help them leverage it to enhance communication and collaboration.

5. Get involved in shaping AI guidelines and security measures. Ensure the ethical use of AI within your organisation by participating in the development of guidelines and security measures that protect employee data and privacy. Focus on authenticity.

As internal communicators, we have a tremendous responsibility to lead through change and create a positive impact on our organisations.

Measuring the value of internal communication

“Measurement allows you to hold a mirror up to the company.” I loved this quote from Sheryl Lewis, President of ROI, because it emphasises the importance of measuring the impact of internal communication. In an era where business leaders demand quantifiable results, internal communicators must demonstrate their organisation's worth by providing relevant metrics.

Sheryl, suggested asking these five critical questions:

1) Access/usage: Did the audience receive the message?

2) Knowledge transfer: What did they learn?

3) Application/behaviour change: Did they take action?

4) Business impact: Did the actions have the desired impact?

5) Financial impact: How did it affect the bottom line?

By addressing these questions, communicators can concretely showcase the significance of their work, ultimately proving their value within the organisation. By weaving a compelling narrative with your metrics, you can continuously demonstrate results, drive positive change, and inspire your organisation to reach new heights.

Telling your organisation’s authentic story

Core values serve as the foundation of your organisation, and they're what many passionate employees cling to as they dedicate their time and energy to your organisation's success. However, articulating core values in a meaningful and authentic way can be challenging for many companies. During the session on values, Ann Melinger, CEO of Brilliant Ink, emphasised the importance of values and provided three essential questions to consider during every values implementation project:

1) Is your company truly aware of its core values?

2) Has your company defined the desired behaviours that reflect those values?

3) Do these values and behaviours consistently appear throughout your employee lifecycle?

Addressing these questions will help create a stronger, more authentic connection between your employees and your company's core values, fostering a more engaged and committed workforce.

Better together

The Voices 2023 conference was an incredible experience and a fantastic opportunity to come together, exchange ideas, and collaboratively shape the future of our sector. I look forward to attending more events. As communicators, we must never underestimate our role in helping our organisations navigate and shape the future.

At Engage, we pride ourselves on providing strategic solutions that drive meaningful change and foster strong connections within the workplace. If you're seeking support or looking to explore new communication strategies, feel free to reach out to us at hello@engagegroup.me. Together, let's create a brighter future for internal communications and the organisations we serve.

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