Companies Must Adapt Internal Communication as Demographics Change, Baylor Study Finds

Feb. 9, 2016

Follow us on Twitter:@BaylorUMedia

Contact: Terry Goodrich,(254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Feb. 9, 2016) — As baby boomers retire and an increasing number of millennials enter the workforce, internal communicators must adapt to accommodate the shift of generations, the rise of internal social media and the development of metrics to determine employee engagement, according to a Baylor University study.

“Collectively, these issues appear to be strengthening the power and demand for strategic internal communication,” said researcher Marlene S. Neill, Ph.D., assistant professor of journalism, public relations and new media in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences.

These changes are highlighted in the article “Emerging Issues in Internal Communications: Generational Shifts, Internal Social Media & Engagement,” published in the Public Relations Journal. It contains research gathered from 32 interviews with executives from companies listed among Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For,” as well as other reputable companies and organizations. Internal communication was studied within 26 companies and organizations representing 11 states and the District of Columbia.

Neill said that a number of trends “indicate a move to a more strategic role for internal communication and more dialogue with employees rather than one-way communication.” Those developments include:

  • Organizational structural changes. For most companies and organizations that participated in the study, a communications or public relations department leads their internal communications, with human resources professionals collaborating closely.
  • Generational shifts. The loss of baby boomers in the workplace means losing years of experience. Millennials have different communication expectations from their employers, such as mobile communication and short messages. Companies and organizations are learning to communicate with brevity and easy access through channels such as internal social media.
  • Employer branding. Millennials have a reputation for being less loyal to their jobs and more focused on long-term careers. However, core values such as respect, honesty, integrity, humility, character, innovation, workplace safety and customer service seem to be very important for millennials when they seek employment. Human resource departments are often in charge of introducing employees to a company brand, while public relations executives reinforce those brand values.
  • Metrics for measuring employee engagement. Online metrics such as page visits, returning visitors, time spent with content and referring sites are all ways used by participants. Other metrics include attendance at employee meetings and click-through rates for electronic newsletters. More advanced measurement involves routine surveys related to communication and culture as well as attrition or turnover.

    Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


    The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.

    Looking for more news from Baylor University?