WEDNESDAY 21 OCT 2015 2:58 PM


Of British employees, 71% are not fully engaged at their places of work and 80% are unhappy with their manager or are disengaged. That challenge is what faces the army of internal communications professionals that descended upon London last week for the annual CIPR Inside conference. The event featured case studies and discussions from some of the most successful IC campaigns of the last year, as determined by the judging panel at the CIPR #InsideStory Awards in 2014.

At its core, though, the CIPR Inside conference is about talking; it’s about sharing. “The shortest distance between two people is a story,” says director of All Things IC Rachel Miller. She says internal communications falls to not just one person or one internal comms team or even to the business’ leaders, but to the whole company, to get right. The speakers who followed proved that – and the conference theme, 'Making an impact' – to be true.

Tim Rutter, head of communications at Tata Steel, Strip Products UK in Port Talbot, Wales shared the unlikely story of a successful internal communications newspaper that his team launched and now run at the Welsh plant. The newspaper has been printed throughout the major business changes the site has undergone, yet it has not lost relevance in the eyes of the steelworkers. “We have to remember we’re doing this for a reason,” Rutter said. “To effect change in the organisation. It has to make a difference.”

Next came Saskia Jones, head of communications engagement at Oxfam, who oversaw a campaign to bring the leaders closer to the charity’s multinational workforce through ingeniously simple online Q&As. She recorded a reach of 600 employees in the first chat alone. It has now become a popular programme across the business.

International workforces present huge challenges to employers. Some use digital technologies, like Jones, to reach their diverse workforces, others make face-to-face a priority in an increasingly digital world. Sarah Purdie talked about the unification of the Clarks brand internally through a video created to both tell the story of the Clarks brand and engage employees from across the Clarks family worldwide.

In internal comms, though, interesting ideas and campaigns are only one piece of the puzzle. To prove the value of internal comms activities and to encourage leaders to support initiatives, internal communicators have to find a way to measure and prove their value. Sasha Watson, director of employee engagement and CSR at ARM Holdings says measurement has helped lead to the expansion of her team and the long-term efficacy of ARM’s employee engagement efforts.

Once metrics are determined and campaigns measured, though, the campaign must still resonate with employees. Janet Morgan, director of global content strategy for GSK talked through her strategy of tying the internal and external brands together. Employees, she said, felt proud to work at GSK, but didn’t know why. The communications team developed a brand narrative that then became part of the employee engagement campaign and the external brand positioning. By sharing the collateral and implementing a unified strategy, Morgan says employees now feel proud to work at GSK, with a good reason for doing so. 

The event was complemented by panel discussions and workshops. The CIPR Inside group also runs the #InsideStory Awards. Now in its fourth year, the programme has expanded and is calling for entries based on strategy and on size. Entries are accepted until 27 November.