Happiness at work


Staff wellbeing is important for all employers – a happy workplace is a productive one, with higher staff retention and less days lost to sickness. Internal communications have an important role to play in promoting initiatives, providing outlets for discussion and facilitating networks to bring like-minded people together. The role of senior leadership and in particular the person at the top of organisation can define the approach to wellbeing.

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How visible are your leaders?

One of the Engage for Success key indicators is senior leadership visibility. For me, this is very much dependent on the individual and how they want to work things from a communications perspective. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great organisational leaders who have embraced this wholeheartedly.

Sean Harriss was our CE at Lambeth and he had a pretty straight talking and honest approach which resonated well with colleagues. He cascaded information from the top and provided the answers that staff needed.

At the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sue Owen – Permanent Secretary is a huge advocate for employee engagement. The 69% engagement score from the 2016 People Survey  is testament to this. Her style and the size of the department lends its self to face-to-face opportunities, including monthly stand ups and twice yearly staff conferences.

How could we take this further?

I think the next steps and the greater challenge is ensuring that this visibility runs throughout the whole leadership team, rather than just the figurehead.

I’ve tackled this in the past by opening up a broader Q&A with questions to all members of the leadership team. Champion roles, e.g. in relation to networks or diversity also help directors to get involved with different parts of the business and attend different types of events.

Leaders at events

An obvious way to ensure visibility of leaders is at events. There are lots of different ways to do this which will also depend on the style and presentational skills of the individual.

I recently attended an IOIC event: The rise of multi-location hybrid events. The event covered the following:

Bridging distance to engage employees

There’s little doubt that employee events are an extremely powerful way to communicate internally. But for businesses with people in multiple locations the challenges of reaching everyone can be daunting.

Bringing everyone together in one place is often impossible, roadshows have their own challenges and webcasts are low on engagement. Which is why organisations from TED to the Post Office are increasingly turning to multi-location hybrid events – linking audiences in different cities together in a single cohesive live experience.

The agency perspective- Live Union

Jez Paxman showed some great new technology including personal streaming with Snapchat spectacles, Intel – virtual reality headsetHoloLens mixed reality from Microsoft and double robotics.

I’m not sure how feasible these are in the public sector from a cost perspective at the moment, but in time some of the hardware and applications could become everyday tools.

Jez went on to talk about a hybrid event that he had organised at multiple locations which delivered a single experience. His top tips were to ensure the following:

  • Extensive scripting and rehearsal
  • Quality technical production
  • Find the right venues to focus on the experience
  • Have a contingency in place.

The agenda was mind blowingly complex but with the leadership team on board the agency and organisation were able to pull it off, achieving some great engagement scores.

This solution enables the issues of cost, time and travel to be overcome whilst still achieving the benefits of human congregation, as a single experience.


The client perspective – Post Office


I was surprised to hear from Paul Swanton that the Post Office is the U.K.’s biggest retailer. Paul shared his experience of working with Live Union to deliver a next-generation event. He needed to get together employees and franchisees from across the country and wanted to give them the same experience. Paul held Team Talk Live in cinemas at five locations across the country. He experienced challenges in terms of sequencing content and the logistics of the operation. He was bold in delivering an innovative approach to employee engagement and this is something that has helped him to gain the trust of the senior leadership team for future initiatives.

How do you do yours?

I think this is a great solution to get disparate colleagues colleagues ‘together’ and ensure that they have the same experience. Albeit from a different geographical location!

It would be great to hear about any events you’ve done along these lines. Did anyone else at the IOIC event have any thoughts? I hope I get the opportunity to manage a next-generation event in the future! Contact me @katygibbins1

IC Space Live 2017!

What is the IC Space?

The IC space is the place for Internal Communication professionals across government to focus on best practice. The information in the IC Space has been pulled together to help you deliver excellent government communications. It’s a great resource for all aspects of internal comms so check it out– even if you’re not working government.

IC Space Live is where Government Communications Service IC professionals get together in person… a great way to network, share ideas and discuss IC issues of the day.

Continue reading IC Space Live 2017!

A small fish in a big pond – local to central government communications

The transition

I would like to share my thoughts on my move from a local government to central government communications role.

Whilst I was job hunting I explored a number of private sector opportunities, but found myself coming back to, and feeling more comfortable with roles within the public service.

The UK Civil Service involves the expertise of 300,000 people, so I am often surprised at how many of them know each other work reach other departments in the past. I arrived during the post Brexit summer and inevitably this is a focus of many conversations and work priorities.

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Intranets- curation vs creation

The benefits of the intranet

Intranets are a great tool within the internal communications toolbox. Complimented by an employee social network, such as Yammer, they can add massive value by enabling small teams to distribute considerable amounts of content and engage across large organisations.

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Events – it’s all in the detail, part 2 of 2

The next stage of event planning

I hope you can benefit from my experience and advice and have smooth running events every time (well almost as a lot depends on outside factors)!

For part 1 on some of the basics and initial steps to follow see below.

Events- it’s all in the detail, part 1 of 2

Continue reading Events – it’s all in the detail, part 2 of 2

Insight from a recent event #TheBigYak

The format

I attended The Big Yak internal communications unconference last Saturday and found it hugely valuable for networking and the collaborative opportunity to answer questions and solve issues that have been raised on the day.

TBY board

I was new to the unconference format which is based on Open Spaces Technology. Like-minded people come together without a set agenda and agree this during the day. The event was facilitated by Benjamin Ellis. This is a format I would like to try out at an event I am organising in the future. Continue reading Insight from a recent event #TheBigYak

Events- it’s all in the detail, part 1 of 2

Where to start?

I love planning events. I am pretty ‘OCD’ when it comes to detail so the need to ‘dot all the ‘I’s’ and cross the ’T’s’’ required for event planning suits me well!

Some of the bigger events I have led include voluntary sector conferences, staff awards and community awards. I have also coordinated communications for the 2012 Olympic Paralympic torch relays in Lambeth, the Lambeth Country Show and fireworks events. Continue reading Events- it’s all in the detail, part 1 of 2

Communications guiding principles – across sectors and audiences

Introductioncommunication tags, abstract vector art illustration

During the course of this year, I have been lucky enough to visit/shadow a range of communications teams. The aim was to get a greater understanding of their priorities and how they work. Added to my own experience in local government communications, this blog summarises what I have learnt.

I discovered that although there are a lot of nuances and different terms used, there are key guiding principles which run throughout all professional communications teams.

I would like to thank to my hosts Alison Steel a very experienced and professional communications and marketing director at Kingston University and Paul Sandell the legal comms guru at Thomson Reuters.

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Monitoring and evaluation – learn from the best and do it your way

My experience

M&EMy first experience was delivering monitoring and evaluation training for voluntary sector organisations, who were delivering crime reduction initiatives in London. This was not communications specific and we taught the Weavers Triangle technique which focused on the basics of aims, outcomes and outputs.

During my diploma (which had a private sector marketing emphasis), I learnt about the importance of measuring return on investment (ROI). Something new (and initially challenging!) to me as a public sector comms person. Continue reading Monitoring and evaluation – learn from the best and do it your way