The Most Powerful Name in the Inbox - CEO Communications.

The Most Powerful Name in the Inbox

October 12, 2023

Part of a series of blogs expanding on the findings of the latest ROI Benchmark.

If there’s one coworker every employee can name, it’s the CEO. Regardless of the size of the company — and whether they enjoy the privilege — the CEO is a celebrity headliner, treated as the living personification of the organization’s values and culture. As such, many of today’s chief executives are anxious to remind everyone that there’s a human underneath the icon, a human that employees would very much like to know better. CEO communications, alongside 20 other priorities, is climbing to the top of priority lists for internal communications teams to increase employee engagement.

It’s no surprise that employees respond to seeing their CEO’s name in their inbox. According to the latest ROI Benchmark, an email from the CEO carries more weight than any other communication, with 84% of communicators saying that it’s opened by more than half of employees. This is compared to 60% reporting the same open rate for internal comms newsletters and 56% for other internal comms emails.

The pandemic caused many CEOs to step up their communication efforts, which helped guide employees through the many resulting changes. It was the right move, but regular email communications from the CEO and thoughtful CEO communications should be the norm, not the exception. When it comes to cadence, many companies strive for a weekly email to ensure that employees feel like they are a key priority for the CEO — but whatever you choose, it’s important to stick with it for the long haul.

The benefits to this approach are clear:

  • It sets the right example. The CEO has the unique opportunity to role model great communication behavior for the entire company. They bear the important responsibility of setting the tone and ratifying the organization’s communication architecture. By committing to a regular email touchpoint, a CEO demonstrates from the top that the company expects clear, disciplined, consistent communication from all employees. It also proves that engaging with the employee audience isn’t an afterthought, but an essential part of the CEO’s strategy.
  • It builds a personal connection. Emails allow the CEO to bring their voice directly to employees. The inbox is a place where the CEO’s voice can appear authentically and uninterrupted, almost as if it were a private, one-on-one communication. Live events like all-hands meetings are another way of bringing the CEO’s voice to life, but these are big, collaborative affairs, and they don’t happen frequently enough. Emails provide an intimacy and regularity that are hard to match in other standard CEO communications tools and strategies.
  • It leads to engagement and trust. When someone makes the effort to regularly, generously communicate with us, the result is increased trust, and CEOs are no exception. Employees are eager to support employers who work to earn their trust, and that trust can in turn benefit the organization through increased engagement, loyalty and commitment. A successful CEO communications strategy can also have a powerful impact on employee retention, motivation and recruitment.

While it is important for a leader to express their true self, it’s worth mentioning that during times of heightened internal and external friction, such as company layoffs, social unrest, or geopolitical tensions, CEO communications should be discussed and collaborated on with leaders across the organization after a strong employee listening strategy has been put in place. The CEO is the CEO for all employees with diverse perspectives and backgrounds, so setting the right tone and aligning the message with company values is critical.

Every CEO has a different style, but clear communication should always be part of the job description. CEO communications provide a unique opportunity to bring the chief executive’s voice to life in a way that employees are keen to hear. Working with your CEO to take better advantage of this platform will provide results that everyone can agree on.


Jeff Lewonczyk ROI Internal Communication Agency Employee.
Jeff Lewonczyk

Director, Specialist

Jeff is a strategist and award-winning illustrator with a background in theater, music and arts advocacy. A resident of Brooklyn, he directs musical comedies and helps clients connect with their audiences through compelling stories and messaging.