IC, are you getting the full picture? How to Power It Up

January 26th 2021 in Christopher Hopkins, Internal Communication, Employee Communications, Corporate Culture, Change Communication

Last week I attended and spoke at the virtual Internal Communications Conference. This got me reflecting on whether the role of internal communications is changing with the times and how the long-term strategic power of IC is being cemented.

With my presentation designed around the long-term strategy of Internal Communications, looking to 2022 and beyond, I covered the following areas:

  1. The strategy for weaving purpose, vision and culture into the fabric of your organisation through your most valuable asset, your people.
  2. The need for upskilling and deepening the value of IC to drive the employee experience, enabling impactful behavioural and organisational change.
  3. Driving performance through the employee experience - Your IC comms strategy will never be as good as it can be unless you work with HR to understand your people.

If you are interested in watching the full presentation, you can view this here

Christopher Hopkins speaking at the virtual Internal Comms Conference in 2021

The world is embarking on what is effectively an unprecedented global change programme that will affect every individual, every employee in your organisation – no matter what they do, or where they are.  This change is not just a result of the tumultuous effects of the pandemic, but as a result of the social, economic, digital and organisational change that is affecting every one of us.  

In our everyday conversations with our clients, our peers in the industry, at our Supper Clubs, webinars and other events, we talk always about the future, not the situation we are in now, with the pandemic, this has all passed.

The organisational change we are going through would have happened anyway, the pandemic has just accelerated it, and I talk more about this in a webinar we held back in July 2020.

So, what is the future for IC?

As I showcase in my presentation, with creative examples from some of the World’s most forward thinking organisations, we are seeing more and more a closer synergy between HR and IC teams. Over the years, we’ve seen the consequences of companies experiencing a siloed approach or a big divide between HR and communication.  But now, we are experiencing organisations asking for more of an integration or perhaps better, a closer partnership between IC and HR. 

Looking forward, the full picture has a real need, an untapped opportunity to really understand the power of IC through a closer understanding of HR - HR as an enabler to provide direction to the employee, as an influencer to change behaviours and a channel to make a big difference to the employee experience. 

In recognising this opportunity, what I’m referring to is purely a strategy of alignment, but when all said and done, this is all just a means to an end – the results, the outcomes which are there for the employee, the human beings that make up the culture with their behaviours driving your business strategy forward are what makes internal communication successful.

We’ve experienced it – we’ve been a part of it, acted as a bridge between IC and HR, and have worked with our clients to deliver great success

Finally, there are many things that we can adopt from our experience to inspire and instil a positive sense of purpose moving into this year and beyond.  Just to summarise here are 3 key takeaways: 

  1. HR isn’t just about the transactional policy and technical content, it’s about colleagues collaborating, sharing knowledge and experiences, and having the respect as an individual, a human being that can really make a difference.
  2. People strategy will affect people’s lives at a personal level – we want people to be respected, to act, be rewarded and be recognised – Remember Aristotle, ‘The whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ – joined together IC and HR has a powerful tool for creating an employee experience generating positive behaviours.
  3. So, from our experience, don’t just broadcast a message, weave it into the fabric of the everyday world of your people – HR provides a communication platform that will energise and power up all the internal communication demands for an exciting, if a somewhat turbulent future.

 

Q&A Session

I thought it would be useful to share with you some of the questions asked by your peers after my presentation along with my answers…

1. When it comes to HR or People related comms - What channels do you feel are the most effective to use to get the message or content across?

From a changing workplace perspective this is important. But, given the need for targeting and personalisation in our communication wherever possible, rely on the same data rich mix of channels you currently use or are developing. Such as:

  • HR Information Systems
  • Benefits platforms
  • Intranet
  • Social Media platforms
  • Performance management platforms

In any case, harness the data you have to make a personalised or more targeted approach, but also make them joined up to ensure a seamless employee experience.

Finally, as you'll know, one of the most important channels is the line manager, the human face of communication - when fully charged, they have the ability to act as a pivotal channel for instant 2-way communication - particularly with change when there can often be sensitivity or action required. But they must have the right tools to do it.
 

2. As far as the communication process or approach is concerned, what areas are there to look at for getting things started?

I would suggest looking to these two areas:

  • Purpose, vision and mission and build a strategy to weave them into all areas of the People strategy - Performance management, objective setting, incentives and bring HR content to life.
  • Look to the employee life cycle and all the touchpoints to feed in message such as pay review, benefits enrolment, onboarding, career development.


3. What are the main things to consider with HR communication?

It's about people, individuals and their employee experience - HR has much policy, regulation and transactional content so it's important to balance this with emotion through personality, inspiration, and energy.
 

4. An employee engagement strategy is obviously a collaboration between HR and Comms. In your experience which team has owned it and been responsible for its delivery?

Typically, the HR team has owned and been accountable for employee engagement. This is due to HR identifying the need/objective/goal of the project. They then come to internal comms to identify the way to engage and drive the results they need. Comms is an enabler in the same way marketing drives revenue and margin, IC strategy and delivery drives performance from an engaged workforce who 'buys-in' to the message.

Looking for added value and strategy for your internal communication? That’s what we’re here for!

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Christopher Hopkins 

FOUNDING DIRECTOR AND LEAD COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT