Defining the Bionic Business: 5 traits define a new era in employee communication and engagement

simplycommunicate, Europe’s leading independent community for internal communicators, HR and digital workplace professionals, has released the findings from their latest research, the Bionic Business. Key findings suggest despite a shift towards hybrid working, glaring gaps around employee training, technology access and internal collaboration which need to be addressed if they are to succeed in delivering effective employee communications and engagement programmes.

Working with world-renowned experts in their fields, Hilary Scarlett, Dr. Olivier Oullier, Samantha BuddBudd and Fiona McEvoy from expert disciplines including behavioural science, neurodiversity, tech ethics and diversity and inclusion, simplycommunicate has identified a new era in employee communications engagement, the Bionic Business. A Bionic Business is one that balances digital and physical workspaces and encounters in such a way that it enjoys highly positive employee engagement alongside strong, sustained business performance. The team of researchers and experts helped to identify five key traits which make-up the Bionic Business. These traits are Empathy, Equity, Evolutionary, Empowerment and Efficiency.

Data taken from 153 organisations from over 20 countries, found that 50% of businesses are planning to move towards a permanent hybrid model of working, with an additional 42% still trying to figure out what the future of working practices within their business is likely to look like. Just 2% of those who took part in the survey are planning to have everyone back in the office full time.

Looking at performance against each of the 5 traits, high-level findings found:

  • Empathy: Empathy and fairness have come relatively naturally to businesses with 84% of those surveyed said their employees felt looked after and treated fairly
  • Empowerment: A mere quarter (25%) of businesses report that they have made employee listening a strategic management priority with just 16% have trained managers in how to listen to their teams
  • Efficiency: Only 12% of businesses have automated key operational requirements such as performance reviews and collaboration tools
  • Equity: While the majority of businesses (67%) claim to be committed to ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion there remains a lack of proactivity in creating a culture of equity with 42% failing to promote cross-team collaboration
  • Evolutionary: Just 13% of businesses have people or teams in place to specifically manage hybrid working, despite the majority of businesses planning to make a permanent transition to hybrid working

While the speed at which businesses adapted to Covid-19 was commendable, as we look ahead, there is a challenge around how we make technologies more sustainable - and how we adapt our management approaches to ensure equity and inclusivity across all stages of the employee journey. 

Marc Wright, founder of simplycommunicate said: “HR and communications teams have been catapulted by the pandemic into a strategic role to accelerate the changes that will come to mark out 2020/21 for many years to come. Now, we have a choice. We can make things happen, react to what has and is happening, or, wonder what happened. This report is all about looking ahead – embracing the challenges of a Bionic Business – a model of organisational development that marries powerful technologies with human digital dexterity.”

Defining a new era in internal communication and employee engagement

With nearly half of businesses still working through the short and long-term implications for their business, it remains clear that post-covid, home working in full or in part, will be much more prevalent than it was before. This has serious implications for technology, communication, leadership and, in due course, for the future roles of the office and for middle management. The findings from the research lend itself to a series of practical recommendations such as:

  • Escape the technological straight jacket: don’t take a latent approach to the use of technology. Look at how you can fuse technologies together to meet your specific needs.
  • Wellbeing: power-hour walks, time away from the screen will be crucial engagement tools for hybrid workers
  • Retrain the middle-manager: New skills are going to be needed for middle managers who are managing remote teams
  • Seek out operation-driven efficiencies: assess SaaS opportunities for driving efficiencies to support productivity and innovation. This is not about replacing roles with robots, but equipping people with the tools and skills to do their job better and more effectively.

Lisa Pantelli, head of content and community at simplycommunicate says: “our simplycommunity members have been in reactive mode for the last 12 months. Little time, understandably, has been given to planning and reassessing existing communication and engagement channels. With reduced communications budgets and organisational uncertainty, it can be hard to think about what’s ahead. We’ve really focused on practical outputs and outcomes which will set-up the communications teams, and their organisations, for long-term success. Applying these measures and becoming a hi-tech, hi-touch bionic organisation will not be easy but it will pay substantial dividends in a post-Covid-19 world.”

Designed to be used as an organisational benchmark for operational communications performance, businesses can utilise the methodology to identify the areas in which require additional focus. To find out more about the report or to see how you can undertake your own assessment, visit

Press release distributed by Pressat on behalf of simplycommunicate, on Tuesday 8 December, 2020. For more information subscribe and follow

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Defining the Bionic Business: 5 traits define a new era in employee communication and engagement