Why write this book?
It's about time.
Employee communication has always been a bit of a mystery for practitioners, and an almost invisible career path for students of communication. While there have been many well-written stories about engaging internal stakeholders, most professional communicators have been learning on the job (often by trial and error), and applying some of what they know from the world of PR to the discipline. Students tend to get a single chapter, or perhaps a case study about the topic, in a book or broader curriculum about PR or strategic communication.
Even before COVID, we saw the need for a deeper, more comprehensive and integrated look not only at communicating with employees, but with engaging them strategically for the purpose of accelerating performance for the enterprises that employ them.
In the meantime, C-suite executives have been developing a functional understanding of the role and importance of internal communications for decades. As they’ve led their organizations through significant change agendas, begun digital transformations or initiated cultural change, they’ve come to realize the critical strategic importance of the discipline.
With growing numbers of employee communication jobs, a need for greater education and a growing awareness of how the discipline could enable performance, the stage was already set for something big.
And the lightning rod turned out to be a global pandemic.
2020 changed everything for employee communications. It put the importance of strategic employee communication at the top of the priority list: internal communication on steroids. As organizations sent employees home overnight as a measure of protection from the global pandemic, the issues of connectivity, engagement and culture became far greater business issues than simply deploying new technologies to help more remote workforces communicate, or broadcasting email messages to employees to tell them what the organization wanted them to know.
Employee communication moved squarely into the spotlight as a strategic tool that could enable enterprises to survive, or better yet, thrive in the most disruptive environment ever to hit a digital, global economy.
There could be no better time to take a step back, chronicle and methodically organize a text that could orient students and professionals alike to what the best of employee engagement looks like, strategically, through the eyes of the communicators who are among the best across the globe.
They’ve spent decades transitioning their discipline from tactical and one-directional, to strategic, omni-directional and results driven. These are their stories, and we’re pleased and proud to share them -- helping create a new generation of strategic employee communication and engagement professionals.