Gartner: C-suite influence of CCOs and comms teams increase

The influence of chief communications officers in the C-suite grows, and comms teams upsize, as firms emphasise employee communications, says Gartner

The role of chief communications officer is finding increased importance and influence within the C-suite, according to new research from Gartner.

The majority (83%) of chief communications leaders surveyed report that their C-suite influence was growing, while three-quarters (75%) said they now had slightly or much more influence than their non-communications C-suite counterparts.

Organisations place larger emphasis on stakeholder communications

This comes as organisations become increasingly more interdependent, place greater emphasis on employee communication and collaboration, and are looking to advance corporate reputation.

“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.”

Communications teams are growing, but staff turnover is high

In line with the increasing importance of stakeholder communications, 72% of communications teams are either significantly or slightly larger than they were a year ago, according to research.

“One objective indicator of growing influence is team size,” says Sigler. “If those managing the budget feel communications efforts are valuable, they’ll provide more money and staff to CCOs… [and] communications leaders appear to have received both last year.”

But, despite growing teams, the median staff resignation rate is 20%, twice as high as marketing’s. “It’s concerning that despite this vote of confidence from organisations, teams are having a tough time retaining talent.”

So, why is this the case? Analysis of the survey data suggests that limited flexible working options on communications teams may be one reason why staff are leaving. Communications teams that are offering neither flexibility in work location nor in work days reported 54% more turnover than teams that offered both.

This would make sense given that flexible working has become an increasingly sought-after work perk, and one that many employees are demanding post-pandemic. in fact, lack of flexible working is fuelling the Great Resignation.  

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of employees forced to return to the office full-time say this makes them more likely to look for a new job, according to the 2022 Adapt study by San Francisco-based HR tech firm Topia, with 41% saying flexibility to work from home is or was a reason to change jobs.

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.

Read Gartner’s State of Communications report.

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