Demand for internal communications professionals soars, study reveals
As the economic recovery continues to drive employee movement and competition for top talent grows, demand for internal communications professionals to drive strategic employee engagement strategies has increased. In its latest Business Leaders in Communications Study 2014/15, 95% of respondents listed staff as the key audience for their business – on a par with the media and above all other stakeholders.
The report – which surveyed over 250 communications leaders across Europe – also revealed that 51% expect demand for internal / change communications to increase in the next two years. These indications are in stark contrast to 2012 figures in which only 39% of those surveyed selected internal communications as one of the most important roles of the profession.
Further supporting this growing demand, when asked to indicate the three most important roles of the communications function, building a strong, loyal and engaged workforce was ranked second, with 57% of respondents selecting this option.
David Broome, Executive Director of VMA Executive, commented on these findings:
“This rising demand of internal communications skills is perhaps a result of the growing recognition from CEOs that staff engagement is the lifeblood of a business. At a time when competition for the best talent remains tough and people retention moves up the corporate agenda, it’s clear that organisations are turning to internal communications experts to keep employees engaged. As the value of staff remains front of mind for business leaders, we expect to see this demand for expert skills to continue to grow over the coming years.”
Rise of the generalist
The report also revealed that the role of the communications expert is shifting from the & lsquo;specialist’ to the & lsquo;generalist’. Of the key skills and experience valued in this profession, the ability to articulate and influence was top of the list, with 85% of those surveyed selecting this trait. Organisational and leadership abilities also ranked highly, with 51% reporting this is a key skill. Business acumen was also considered important, with 49% selecting this as a vital element for communications practitioners.
VMA client Nick Boakes, Director of Corporate Affairs at Provident Financial Group, commented on these results:
“The finding that influencing skills and good judgement are paramount underlines the point that successful corporate affairs and communications practitioners are a key component of the successful senior management team – a position set to grow stronger in the future.”
David Broome concludes:
“Organisations are now placing greater emphasis on the breadth of wider business skills that communications directors can offer. It’s now vital that professionals are able to align communications with corporate strategy and executive-level thinking. We’re also noticing a drop in demand for specific skill sets and a greater focus on wider communications abilities. Effectively, businesses now want the generalist professionals, rather than the specialist.”