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While three-quarters (74 per cent) of global employers say the purpose of their internal communications strategy is to shape workplace culture and create a sense of belonging, only 56 per cent believe their employees understand their organization’s strategy, according to a new survey by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co.

The survey, which polled more than 2,000 employers, found the No. 1 priority for human resources leaders in 2023 is engaging teams around purpose, strategies and value (51 per cent), followed by developing or refreshing internal communications strategies (35 per cent) and enhancing people manager communication (32 per cent).

Chris Lee, vice-president of Gallagher’s communication consulting practice, says the results indicate employers are developing long-term views around building and maintaining teams in a hybrid work environment.

Read: How are personalized communications connecting with employees?

“One of the things I’ve been seeing is that employers have been shifting away from a ‘What can you do for us?’ relationship with their employees towards much more of a ‘What can we do for you?’ approach. I think this is really recognizing the reality that the employer relationship with employees is very much a symbiotic one, where both employer and employee can benefit from the relationship and it isn’t just this one-way approach.”

When asked about their biggest communications challenges, survey respondents cited lack of time and capacity (34 per cent), disengaged employees (30 per cent) and budget constraints (24 per cent). While budget concerns may indicate that some organizations are bracing for economic uncertainty, Lee says employee communication is crucial amid the rising cost of living.

“It’s more important than ever to effectively communicate the value of the many ways that employees are being supported above and beyond the pay stub.”

The survey also found diversity, equity and inclusion was the second most frequently communicated topic in 2022, but just 40 per cent of employers said they have a clearly defined DEI strategy and 38 per cent said they’re still developing one.

“It’s clear that corporate leaders are making DEI a communications priority right now [and] I think this reflects an evolved sense of what it means to be a good corporate citizen,” says Lee. “Organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace and the benefits it can [provide], from organizational performance to psychological safety.”

Read: Communication of DEI initiatives important in remote, hybrid working arrangements: expert