Meanwhile, almost as many (28 per cent) said a lack of skilled people would have the biggest effect, according to a survey of 1,500 senior internal comms professionals in the UK by Question & Retain.
Of those who believed the lack of focus on strategy would have the greatest impact, some of the comments included:
- "Every person in the organisation wants to talk tactics without thinking what is it they want to achieve and what is the strategy."
- "Organisations agree they need to communicate with staff but don't know why."
Those who cited the skills shortage made comments such as:
- "More resources are still generally given to external comms/PR without enough time and effort put into understanding internal stakeholders."
- "Everyone thinks they understand communications and are a good writer. For internal communications to succeed it needs to be recognised as a professional skill throughout an organisation and properly resourced."
However, one third also gave "none of the above" as their answer, and instead offered a range of alternative suggestions, including:
"The changing expectations of the audience. Millennials expect to be able to access information on their terms, via their own devices. They won't settle for an email announcement cascaded downwards."
- "Internal comms not wired enough with business objectives."
- "Technology solutions, and new and different tools to engage with employees."
More controversially, six per cent of respondents chose a fourth option, agreeing that the "dominance of women" would have the greatest impact on the future of internal comms.
One person who chose this answer wrote: "Let me preface my response by saying the best people I ever recruited were women. However, in internal comms at present, too many leaders still see it as a fluffy, unimportant activity, just trying to make people feel good. As a result, they see it as an activity more suited to women.
"Nowhere is this more evident than in banks, as a counterpoint to the otherwise prevailing macho culture."
A number of these issues were debated during a panel session last night at the Westminster office of Ellwood Atfield.
The lively debate was billed as a "fight club" between the four panellists: PRWeek deputy editor John Harrington; Claire Lucraft, a senior internal comms consultant who formerly worked at KPMG, BBC and Cadbury’s Schweppes; Paul Riddell, head of strategic comms at AXA Wealth, and Annabel Dunstan, co-founder of Question & Retain. It was chaired by Liam Fitzpatrick, managing partner of Working Strategies.