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The growing importance of internal communications


Internal communications is a growing issue for firms undergoing change - but finding the right people for the task is not easy.

Communication is a big word in business for many reasons. In a high-tech world where marketing is increasingly sophisticated, digitised and interwoven with content rather than being disruptive, the techniques are becoming more advanced all the time.

However, it is not just with clients and customers that companies need to communicate well. To be effective and ensure everyone knows what they need to be doing, this is an internal matter too.

One reason this is particularly true at present is that there has been a major growth in emphasis on internal communications as a means of helping to manage change within companies. As enterprises emerge from the difficult economic times of the last few years, many are reshaping their operations for the future, which can mean great upheaval for some.

However, by communicating well and engaging with staff, this process can not only be managed from the point of view of keeping people 'in the loop'; it also means that they can be enabled to 'buy in' to the process and even play a major part in helping it take place. As well as understanding what they need to do, staff can contribute their own ideas and knowledge, helping to make them feel valued and integral to the whole enterprise.

To achieve that, however, requires some skilled staff in senior positions to take control of communication in a relevant way. And recent events have shown that a growing number of businesses have been recruiting specifically with this aim in mind.

Signs of this emerged in the unusual patterns of recruitment observed in August and into September. Because this is the summer holiday period, the norm is for activity to be low as many potential candidates will be away.

However, this year, there was a surge in demand for very highly-skilled personnel in the big corporate sections in financial services and professional services. That tallies with a growing emphasis in these sectors on innovative communication, something that can only be delivered effectively if the senior staff of a very high standard are in position to do it.

These developments have had a number of consequences. One of them is that candidates in the financial and professional services sector in the £40-60,000 salary range are very hard to find at present. Yet at exactly the same time, the need for managers in this middle bracket is growing, particularly among those with communications skills - and this will continue to rise.

All this means that employers need to cast their net wider than before, looking outside traditional sources of management skills and instead considering who can transfer good communication skills into a role that transforms the ability of a company to engage with its staff.

To this end, those who have graduated in subjects like English, Journalism and Media Studies - can seek this sort of role as a career choice. For those working in financial services and professional services, such roles will become increasingly attractive as demand for these vital skills pushes salaries upwards.

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