i4cp Study Finds, as E-mail Use Grows, Few Companies Teach Employees How to Communicate

SEATTLE, WA (April 3, 2008) – E-mail messages and electronic newsletters rule when it comes to internal communication in organizations today, according to a recent study conducted by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). Yet, information overload is a major challenge, and the situation is likely to grow worse, with few firms providing training on how to communicate better in organizations.
Nearly 90% of the 510 responding organizations use e-mail/electronic newsletters to spread internal communications, outstripping face-to-face communication (75%), company intranets/wikis (66%), the telephone (54%) and printed newsletters (51%).

“There’s good news and bad news here,” says Jay Jamrog, i4cp’s Senior VP of Research. “The good news is that e-mail is an inexpensive and flexible medium, making it the best communication option in many ways. The bad news is that it’s also a ‘thin’ medium that, the research shows, is easy to misinterpret and otherwise abuse. It’s no wonder that information overload continues to plague a lot of organizations.”

When asked about the challenges they face in the area of communications, 57% of respondents cited information overload, second only to the problem of cross-functional communication, cited by 60%. The study offers no easy answer to overload. In fact, the demand for communications – at least in the HR field – is mushrooming. Of the organizations polled, 82% say the desire for HR communication has risen over the last two years, while just 2% say it has fallen.

Despite the challenges associated with e-mail, information overload, and the rising demand for communication, relatively few companies are devoting resources to teaching employees how to communicate better. Just 24% say their organizations offer training on internal communications.

When asked what communication medium most effectively reaches the employee audience, e-mail and other electronic delivery methods were pegged by 64% of respondents, and 56% reported that face-to-face meetings are effective. Just 18% see the telephone as effective in reaching employees.

The communication style in many organizations tends toward a combination of top-down, upward, and horizontal (peer-to-peer), with 47% reporting they do all three. Thirty-eight percent report using a top-down style only, with just 8% saying the communication is upward and 7% favoring peer-to-peer communication.

The Internal Communication “Taking the Pulse” Survey was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with HR.com, in March 2008.

About i4cp, inc.

i4cp is the world’s largest private network of corporations focused on improving workforce productivity. Our vendor-free community facilitates innovation by giving our members – among the largest and most respected organizations in the world – access to:

1. Peers to spark new ideas and prevent “reinventing the wheel”
2. Research to enable members to understand current practices and next practices
3. Tools to put ideas and research into action
4. Technology to enable members to easily access tailored information and execute workforce strategies.

With more than 40 years of experience and the industry’s largest team of human capital analysts, i4cp is the definitive destination for organizations seeking innovative ways to improve workforce productivity.


Greg Pernula
Director of Research Services, i4cp, inc.
(727) 345-2226