Gallagher’s 2021 State of the Sector report: what the findings mean for the digital workplace  

Here’s our view on the latest findings from Gallagher’s 2021 State of the Sector report. 

We are delighted this year to support the launch of Gallagher’s State of the Sector survey. An exploration of the internal communication and employee engagement landscape. The findings from this year’s report identify four core themes:  

  • Digital experience: how have organisations adapted their communication channels to the new environment, and with what success? 
  • Employee experience (EX): are employers actually embracing this, and how well are they implementing the different components of EX? 
  • Transformation: what changes are organisations going through, and what does good like when it comes to keeping employees on side during a business transformation? 
  • Insight: how are employers turning data into actions, and what are the barriers to measuring the impact and effectiveness of communication? 

This is a robust piece of research that provides an invaluable source of figures and benchmarking data to support internal practitioners.  

We benefitted from an advanced copy of the report to digest it in more detail as a team. Looking at the findings with a digital workplace lens, there are some specific areas, we feel, which warrant your attention.  

1. IC benchmarking: just over a third (36%) of respondent’s state that they benchmark their internal communications against the industry. There is something to be said about taking the time to stop and reflect on how your internal communication is evolving in line with what is happening within other organisations. If not just because things are moving apace – but because as we return to the workplace in whatever guise that might be, there will be some level of expectation from employees to be kept informed and engaged with where the business goes next. Encouraging employee advocacy is paramount so perhaps at the very least, it’s time for a communication audit

2. How are your line managers faring? It was disheartening to see only 30% of organisations who took part providing some level of communication training to their line managers. Line managers, as we all know, are one of the key enablers of effective employee engagement and internal communication. Investment in their communication skills is even more crucial when people are no longer likely to be in a daily face-to-face environment. If you want to dig further into your line manager competencieshave a look at this free line manager communication skills assessment

3. The role of enterprise technology has cemented its position in the workplace: but clarity of purpose is needed. Unsurprisingly, but reassuringly, digital communications tools have surged in use over the last 12 months. The adoption of Workplace by Facebook has doubled (although it is still a minnow compared to the dominance of Microsoft) and messaging apps such as WhatsApp and text messaging are deemed to be the most effective communication channels. While we naturally applaud the deployment of effective technology, we urge you to look closely at what technologies and platforms you are using for what purpose and how it helps to drive internal efficiencies and collaboration between existing platforms and teams.   

4. A reduced IC budget does not equate to less of an impact: It would be easy to take a look at the significantly reduced internal communication budget over the course of 2020 and assume that the perceived lack of investment is due to cost-cutting measures. We take a more optimistic view of this. If the intranet and digital transformation is high on your agenda, the great news is that analysts globally are predicting a spending boom in this space. So if you’re not already, it’s well and truly time to work closely with your IT and HR colleagues to support them through the change. The reduction of budget, we suspect, is also in part due to the cancellation of internal face to face events that could not be held during the pandemic. With the research showing us that culture is high on the list of priorities for 2021, we expect this will bounce back in 2022’s report.  

5. Rallying people around a clear purpose: Reassuringly 42% of organisations have an employer brand or a strategic narrative.   But many do not. For those who don’t innovation, growth and success may well be stifled. People need a clear purpose to rally around. An identity they can associate with and a belief that they have a role to play.  

Marc Wright, founder of simplycommunicate said:  

“The Gallagher Report has been dusted down and spruced up this year, which needed to happen to reflect the very different world we are working in. The 2018/19 reports followed a predictable format but this year we have plenty of opinion coming from the team that used to be known as Gatehouse. 

“For me, the most significant change is the focus on taming the digital workplace.  Sure, we are all still working hard to promote the vision, mission and values of our organisations; but now it’s all about change; change in culture, in processes and of course in the massive acceleration in new online ways of working. 

“Just look at the chart on Focus on Page 33. The question is: where will you be focussing your attention, and investing your resources, over the next 12 months? The biggest leap by a stonking 7 points is Improving digital/social channels.” 

If you haven’t already read the report, download a copy of the report here. simplycommunity members can watch our exclusive session with Gallagher to find out how these findings are directly impacting on the role of IC in the digital workplace. 


Laura Riaz

Laura Riaz is simply’s content creator. With a strong background in copywriting and social media management, she thoroughly enjoys writing about the wonders of internal comms.

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