Even though the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) is increasing at a fast pace, 71% of organizations do not provide internal communicators guidance on when, where or how to use the technology, according to Gallagher's 2023/24 State of the Sector report. Furthermore, the study, which drew insights from more than 2,300 communication and HR leaders across 56 countries, found that 1 in 10 communicators (13%) were unsure if their organization was using AI.
"For many organizations, it's the Wild West with regard to how they are adopting and implementing AI," said Ben Reynolds, Global Managing Director of Gallagher's Communication Consulting Practice. "Because so few organizations have an AI plan, we can connect the dots to better understand why half of the respondents (50%) are skeptical or even fearful about the impact of AI. That said, with an AI plan in place, the technologies may help communicators overcome what they've identified as two of the top three barriers in 2024, which are the lack of time and lack of financial resources."
The State of the Sector report found communicators who are using AI are three times more likely to believe the technology will reduce workloads. AI adopters were also 20% more likely to believe it will improve the quality of communications. While AI can drive efficiencies and unlock new ways to communicate, Gallagher experts recommend organizations focus on getting the basics right, as well as seeking out training opportunities and feedback mechanisms to get the best return on investment.
The Revamped Role of People Manager Communicators
New technologies designed to improve efficiencies have not replaced the importance of human connections. In fact, more than 8 of 10 communicators (84%) said they rely on managers for communication to some degree. The topics managers most regularly communicate on include strategy, vision and purpose; values, behaviors and culture; and organizational change integration or M&A activities.
That said, 3 of 5 respondents indicated manager communication was below expectations. Furthermore, 18% of respondents stated "poor people manager communication skills" was one of the top barriers to success in 2024. In response, organizations are leveraging a number of tactics and tools to improve outcomes. The most common resources include on-demand learning (82%), written and/or downloadable resources to help facilitate communication (74%), managers-only forum/communications channel (67%) and one-to-one coaching/mentoring on communications skills (63%).
"Managers who were evaluated on their communications skills were twice as likely to meet/exceed expectations as those who were not evaluated. And those who weren't evaluated/accountable were more likely to receive tools, training & resources," said Reynolds.
Taking Stock of Communicators' Wellbeing
In addition to identifying best practices and areas for improvement, State of the Sector looked at the wellbeing of communicators themselves. Nearly 40% of communicators (38%) indicated their wellbeing decreased in 2023. For many respondents, challenges around dwindling employee attention spans (12%), lack of leadership buy-in and understanding of the profession (27%), and having to do more with less (23%) has likely contributed to this deteriorated wellbeing.
"Communicators are a passionate bunch who are focused on making meaningful changes within their organizations. Rather than putting more weight on their shoulders, the goal of Gallagher's State of the Sector report is to offer benchmarks and guidance to ultimately improve the employee experience, as well as their own," Reynolds added.
ABOUT STATE OF THE SECTOR
Gallagher's 2023/24 State of the Sector report is based on data collected from 2,300 respondents across the world from October to November 2023. Organizations of all sizes and more than 30 industries participated. The report highlights Gallagher's consulting approach, which centers on the full spectrum of organizational wellbeing by strategically investing in an organization's employee health, talent, financial security and career growth potential. We develop benefit and HR programs at the right cost structures to deliver a better employee experience and support a multigenerational workforce. Gallagher Better WorksSM, a comprehensive approach to benefits, reward, retirement, employee communication and workplace culture, aligns an organization's people strategy with its overall business goals. The report can be found here.
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (NYSE: AJG), a global insurance brokerage, risk management and consulting services firm, is headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. Gallagher provides these services in approximately 130 countries around the world through its owned operations and a network of correspondent brokers and consultants.