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SOS 2017: Priorities & Challenges

Lise Michaud

Gatehouse released today the 9th edition of the annual State of the Sector Internal Communication and Employee Engagement Report. A total of 451 communication professionals from around the world responded to the survey conducted in November 2016. The SOS 2017 provides a global perspective on all aspects of internal communication practice - from channel use and message effectiveness, to leader and line manager communication, measurement and evaluation.

We were lucky enough to get an early copy of the 20-page report. In this post, we focus on the results related to the following IC topics: purpose, priorities, challenges, feedback and impact measurement. Make time to read the whole report to better understand how other organizations manage internal communication and engage their people and, to get a sense of the state of the practice around the globe.

In the next few days and weeks, as we come across blog posts and interviews on the results of the survey, we're adding those links at the end of this post for easy reference.

2017 IC purpose, priorities and challenges


  • 84% believe IC has a clearly stated purpose inside their organization

  • 73% say that leaders and the IC team share similar views as to what this purpose should be

  • 75% say that IC is seen as a key driver of employee engagement

  • 72% are involved at all stages of communicating complex messages

  • 70% believe they are viewed as trusted advisors by the leadership team (6% decrease compared to 2016)

  • 66% of practitioners believe that their organization has a clear narrative that explains its vision and strategy

  • 52% said that there is a long-term strategy for internal communication


  • 92% enable employees to understand the strategy, vision and values of the organization

  • 94% corporate announcements

  • 89% employee engagement

  • 82% making leaders more visible and accessible to employees

  • 81% encourage two-way dialogue with employees

  • 84% support organizational change

  • 38% provide communication training

IC PRIORITIES for the next 12 months

  • 69% communicating strategy, values, purpose

  • 48% enhancing leadership communication

  • 46% communicating a change programme

  • 37% enhancing line manager communication

  • 37% improving digital channels

  • 32% improving measurement

  • 30% developing/refreshing an IC strategy


What are the main barriers to internal communication success?

  • 52% lack of line manager communication skills

  • 49% internal technology not fit for purpose

  • 44% not being involved in strategic business decisions

  • 43% lack of resource/budget/investment

  • 39% hard-to-reach employees

  • 32% disengaged staff

  • 30% lack of clarity around organisational strategy

  • 29% lack of support from senior leaders

  • 27% lack of quality internal communication channels

  • 12% lack of structure/organization within the IC team

  • 9% lack of skills within the IC team


  • 63% respondents think employees had a good understanding of their organization’s values

  • 62% respondents think employees had a good understanding of their organization’s vision

  • 46% considered the level of understanding of the strategy across the organization as good or very good

  • 40% thought employees understood well or very well the contribution they were making towards their organization

  • 21% considered employees undertood why leaders make the decisions they do



  • Three channels are used by over 90% of respondents:

  • 93% engagement/people/attitude surveys

  • 92% email

  • 90% face-to-face events or calls


Gatehouse reports that "the proportion of practitioners not measuring the impact of their internal communication has continued to drop, from 18% in 2015 and 12% in 2016 to just 6% this year."

"However, the tactics used to measure communications have not evolved much over the past five years. Employee engagement surveys are still the most frequently used method (76%), although these are frequently owned by other functions (HR) and provide limited insights in our experience. These are closely followed by two relatively traditional, albeit important, methods: intranet analytics (68%) and feedback from events (66%)."

"Nearly 60% of respondents say they have conducted an internal communication audit (either run in house or by an agency) in the past three years – this is good news considering that audits are the single most effective way to get a clear and comprehensive ’current state’ view of your internal communications. It is worth noting though that not all audits are created equal and some are, in reality, little more than a survey in disguise." This said, the data also suggests that "practitioners are focused on output measures, rather than outcome measures – showing how many employees received a message or clicked on an intranet page, rather than measuring the difference that message has made in terms of attitudes, behaviours, or knowledge."

Get the full report and the infographic here. The link to the 2017 State of the Sector Internal Communication and Employee Engagement, including the infographic, is also included on this webpage where you will find a great list of Research Reports & Surveys collated by IC Kollectif.


Sign-up here for the webinar on the results of the research scheduled for Tuesday 21th February, at 3 pm GMT.

Links to other blog posts and interviews on the 2017 SOS for future reference.

IC Kollectif is a global independent nonprofit organization. All editorial content is published independently and without the influence of any advertiser, commercial sponsor or partner.

Capture d’écran, le 2019-04-03 à 17.31.5
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