Gallagher’s State of the Sector 2024 Summarised For Internal Communicators

Gallagher’s State of the Sector Report for 2024 is a must-read for a comprehensive overview of the communications field but if you’re strapped for time, we’ve got you covered with the key takeaways for internal communications professionals. We’ll first highlight what’s stopping communicators from excelling, then share the most popular topics from 2023. Then we’ll dive into the following:

Barriers of Success

When asked what would stand in their way of success in 2024, respondents ranked

  1. Lack of time/capacity in my team (35%)
  2. Disengaged employees (32%)
  3. Lack of budget/financial resources (25%)
  4. Internal technology/channels not fit for purpose  (24%)
  5. Lack of analytics/measurement (19%)

Interestingly, none of these have changed year-to-year. Though, keep an eye out for challenges around engaging with non-wired/deskless employees and volume of communication. They’ve jumped up three and two places respectively.

Most Communicated Topics From 2023

Communications can be ineffective if everything is treated as equally important. Stakeholders often have different priorities and agendas, which can create confusion and overload for employees. Internal communication professionals have the challenging task of sorting out what is essential and relevant, and delivering it in a clear and engaging way. Here are some of the most communicated topics from 2023:

  1. Strategy, vision purpose
  2. Change activity
  3. Business performance

Despite the change activity ranking second and business performance ranking third, only 36% of respondents said employees had a good/excellent understanding for change and 47% for business performance. On the contrary, Health and Safety ranks in 10th place but is one of the best understood topics.

image of table showing most communicated topics

What else are communicators sharing with the organisation? (Source)

What Kind of Communicator Are You?

This year’s State of the Sector explores whether communications professionals are strategic, advisory, or supporting when it comes to deciding how to communicate, their contribution to content creation, and their influence where communications are shared. Here’s how to tell which one you are, what it means for your success and what you can do to grow.

Advisory communicators

Many internal communicators are still struggling to get a seat at the table. Perhaps due to the lack of understanding from senior leaders, internal comms professionals receive communications to push out after a decision is already made, indicating a lack of involvement in the decision-making process. Advisory communicators face the brunt of these challenges as they play a less strategic role in the organisation:

Growing as an advisory communicator

Focus on these activities to enhance your communication approach and progress towards becoming a supporting or strategic communicator.

Supporting communicators

Supporting communicators describe internal communicators who provide advice and support to others rather than being strategic. If you’re a supporting communicator, you’re less likely to use measurement data to support communication campaigns, and you also tend to have less strategic involvement in HR and operational areas.

As a result, supporting communicators are less likely to drive business outcomes compared to strategic communicators, and have a lower impact on organisational culture. They also may experience lower wellbeing and job fulfilment.

Growing as a supporting communicator

Strategic communicators

If you’re a strategic communicator, you’ve hit the gold standard of success:

Here’s what being a strategic communicator means for your success

Measurement and Impact

Communicators are improving at measuring impact, with data collection increasing across all metrics, including reach, understanding, outcomes, and satisfaction.

💡How to get better at measuring comms performance
  • Measure what you can, and what’s relevant
  • Be specific and intentional. Identify progress and improvement against prior performance
  • The more specific and discrete with outlining intended behaviour and outcomes, the more straightforward measurement becomes
  • Simplicity encourages regular, better informed data points that confidently impact decisions and wider initiatives

AI Usage and Perception

No surprises here! AI is a hot topic and communicators are starting to experiment with AI tools.

While AI will drive efficiencies and unlock innovative ways to communicate, the focus needs to be on getting the basics right. Here are some tips from the report:

Test out these prompts for your next communications message.

Employee Wellbeing and Satisfaction

Many communicators reported stagnating or deteriorating wellbeing over the past year, highlighting the importance of addressing employee needs and job satisfaction:

Channel Usage and Effectiveness

Getting the channel mix right enables communicators to reach and engage all employees (even deskless/non-wired staff) and ultimately makes the job easier.

People Managers: Burden or Effective Channel?

As the proportion of deskless employees increases, we are seeing a greater reliance on people managers to share essential comms — but with managers less likely to meet expectations. With three in five respondents indicating that people managers are below expectations when it comes to communicating, does 2024 signal the start of a shift away from communicating through people managers? Here are three takeaways from the report on how to get the best out of people managers:

Actionable Wrap Up

For those who are too skint on time to read the full report, here’s a list of next steps you need to take:

  1. Implement a measurement dashboard.
  2. Stay on track by demonstrating ROI with leaders.
  3. Articulate your EVP and be consistent in communicating it
  4. Collaborate with HR and exec teams to get ahead of the curve.
  5. Get clear on what employees need to understand about change.
  6. Provide managers with on-demand tools and resources.
  7. Create a master comms plan for the year. Don't forget these important dates.
  8. Refine your channel framework.
  9. Start experimenting with AI tools (safely and with purpose!). If you're looking for a starting point, here's out take on how to navigate AI safely.
  10. Run a communications audit, be sure to include focus groups and listening sessions.
  11. Take care of your own wellbeing!
  12. Check out last year's State of the Sector report (summarised of course)


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