Despite organizations’ increased adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), 71 percent don’t provide internal guidance on when, where or how to use the technology, according to Gallagher’s 2023/24 State of the Sector report.

Drawing on insights from more than 2,300 communication and human resource leaders across 56 countries, the study found that 1 in 10 communicators (13 percent) 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 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.”

Companies using AI are three times more likely to believe the technology will reduce workloads, the data found.

AI adopters were also 20 percent more likely to believe it will improve the quality of communications.

Even with obvious benefits like increased efficiency, Gallagher recommends organizations focus on getting the basics right and to seek out training opportunities and feedback mechanisms to get the best return on investment.

Despite the advancing technology, more than 8 of 10 communicators (84 percent) 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, the report stated.

Reliance on managers for communication is not without its drawbacks.

Three of 5 respondents indicated manager communication was below expectations.

Nearly 18 percent of respondents stated “poor people manager communication skills” was one of the top barriers to success in 2024.

The study found employers are leveraging a number of tactics and tools to improve outcomes.

The most common resources include on-demand learning (82 percent), written and/or downloadable resources to help facilitate communication (74 percent), managers-only forum/communications channel (67 percent), and one-to-one coaching/mentoring on communications skills (63 percent).

“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 and resources,” said Reynolds.

In addition to identifying best practices and areas for improvement, the State of the Sector report examined the well-being of communicators.

Nearly 40 percent of communicators indicated their well-being decreased in 2023.

Challenges around dwindling employee attention spans (12 percent), lack of leadership buy-in and understanding of the profession (27 percent), and having to do more with less (23 percent) has likely contributed to this deteriorated well-being.

“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 said.