Eighty-three percent of chief communication officers (CCOs) have reported that their C-Suite influence is growing, according to Gartner.
The research group’s survey of 182 communications leaders in the US, Canada, France, Germany and the UK from November to December 2021 found they feel communications’ influence has grown as organisations become more inter-dependent.
CCOs also largely reported that their influence is greater than other function heads’ at their organisations, with 75% saying they have slightly or much more influence than their non-communications counterparts. Only 5% said they have less influence.
“Companies are placing a larger emphasis on stakeholder communications and cross-functional collaboration,” says Jennifer Sigler, director analyst in the Gartner Marketing & Communications practice. “Given communicators’ unique talents in stakeholder relationship management, it would make sense that CCOs and their teams are being asked to play a central role in efforts to improve collaboration and other employee-related outcomes across the organisation.
“With workers experiencing the fallout from Covid-19 and then the Great Resignation back-to-back, the emphasis on employee communications has grown dramatically. Getting that communication right is more critical than ever.”
Staff Turnover and Flexwork Options Give Cause for Concern
Seventy-two percent of communications leaders said that their teams are either significantly or slightly larger than they were 12 months ago. But, despite growing teams, the median staff resignation rate was 20%, which is twice as high as marketing’s.
“One objective indicator of growing influence is team size. If those managing the budget feel communications efforts are valuable, they’ll provide more money and staff to CCOs,” says Sigler. “Communications leaders appear to have received both last year. However, it is still concerning that despite this vote of confidence from organisations, teams are having a tough time retaining talent.”
Analysis of the survey data suggests that limited flexwork options on communications teams may be one reason staff are leaving. Communications teams that are offering neither flexibility in work location or in work days reported 54% more turnover than teams that offered both.
Gartner recommends that, to grow their teams’ potential as relationship builders across the organisation and further increase their enterprise influence, communications leaders should:
• Identify and address the root causes of low staff engagement and high staff turnover on their teams.
• Redesign teams and roles to eliminate overlapping responsibilities, ensure workflow compatibility and encourage collaboration between true specialists.
• Work closely with functions with whom communications shares activity responsibility to create a clear, efficient division of work and smooth collaboration across team boundaries.