Internal Communications in 2010: The crisis evoked the need of more personal communications
This analysis provides the more important conclusions from Apeiron Research study, carried out in 2010 among Bulgarian employees with the support of the sociological poll agency Alpha Research.
The main objective of the study was to determine what is impact of the economic crisis nearly two years after its start on the way how Bulgarian business implement internal communications. One of the specific sub-objectives was to compare results with previous surveys made before the onset of the crisis in Bulgaria - 2008, and to determine whether and to what extent the crisis has caused any significant changes in dialogue with employees.
Big changes have been identified in all tested parameters compared to the summer of 2008 (the beginning of the crisis in Bulgaria). The results of the ways internal communications are implemented show a big difference (a decline by 25 percent or a growth of over 80 per cent) in the use of different information channels and a substantial fall (between 17 and 45 per cent) of the extent of topics and issues on which workers would like to receive information.
Beyond doubt is that such major changes in such a short time period are not accidental, and the most important factor for this is the economic crisis.
In terms of communication channels there is a clear domination of 'face to face" meetings. The three most popular meetings are with colleagues (about 53 per cent of employees). The other two are briefings with supervisors (37 percent), and meetings with senior officials of the organization (18 percent). This trend shows that the main ways for implementing internal communication in Bulgarian corporate culture are highly personalized and the dominant way for communication is with colleagues, which is of equal severity to the overall communication with senior management in organizations.
The study showed also the most preferred communication channels to contact company personnel. It seems that they started to change with the so-called psychological beginning of the crisis too. Perhaps the most important change since 2008 is in the significant drop in interest of employees to all matters related to the existence of the company. This trend can be conditionally divided two groups posts - those with higher importance and those with less.
In the first group we find topics with less decline in interest (up to 20 percent - "career opportunities", "forthcoming structural changes in the organization" and "future plans for development of the organization"). The second group include issues whose interest has dropped substantially (by about over 30 per cent).
Referenced data indicate thatoverall interest in information related to the company has dropped as a result of the crisis and, secondly, most unaffected stays the interest in matters relating to the company's future (structural change, organization development, employee development). We can say that the economic crisis has led to the weakening of the mutual commitment to the agenda of companies / organizations - both by employees and (although seemingly paradoxical) by the companies themselves in the face of their managing departments.
The total drop in desire to obtain information on any topics related to "your" company suggests a reduced level of commitment of those working with the institution of the specific company, too. This probably is related to the reduction of confidence (among employees) in the ability of firms to react adequately to the effects of the crisis.
Those key observations indicate that internal communicators who plan to overcome these tendencies may use the interest of employees for information about the the near and medium term future and in that way to achieve at least partial recovery of the commitment of the company's employees.