Storytelling at its best

My 121 in a cellI was lucky to attend the ORC International employee engagement conference recently at the fabulous Shoreditch Courthouse Hotel. The theme was storytelling which led to some fascinating presentations and insights. The audience was mixed across sectors which provided some great networking opportunities. It was a really friendly event.

My main area of interest was our annual staff survey, as I’m currently project planning for 2018. Although, I also heard about: reward and recognition schemes, vision setting, and establishing values in organisations. As well as some machine learning thrown in!

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Employer branding – authenticity and strong leadership are critical

A public sector perspective

Employer branding is mission critical to the success and survival of all organisations. It is important in relation to recruitment, retention and your organisations reputation. Authenticity and strong leadership is key to delivering a great employer brand which resonates with employees and customers alike.

This is just as important in the public sector and whilst employees may be driven by different rewards, the theory is the same. A strongly articulated employer brand will help to ensure colleagues are motivated and delivering effectively and the public are satisfied with the service they are receiving. Continue reading Employer branding – authenticity and strong leadership are critical

All for one, and one for all!

How can the communication profession do more to embrace diversity?

D&I event, 28 JuneComms Leaders LLP are ‘the match makers of recruitment’ and in my experience, refreshing to work with.

They hosted this diversity focused networking event at CIPR yesterday. You can follow the evenings events on twitter at #InclusiveComms. Continue reading All for one, and one for all!

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

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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Some thoughts on reputation and responsibility


The @CIMexchange Professional marketer series: Reputation and responsibility held at the London School of Fashion, provided me with lots of food for thought.  Reputation and responsibility is something that has been a theme of a lot of my work throughout my career including volunteering that I have undertaken. It is particularly relevant to behaviour change campaigning. Continue reading Some thoughts on reputation and responsibility

Employee engagement – it’s where it’s at!

What’s best practice?

Cavendish conference centreI recently joined the Employee Engagement Alliance (EEA) who aim to elevate employee engagement to its rightful place as a catalyst for business and organisational success; they have eight core goals.

The EEA held a best practice learning showcase in central London. This event presented a diverse range of organisations and agencies who have been recognised for delivering highly effective employee engagement strategies.

EE slideMy takeaways were:

  • Apply a whole person approach
  • Focus on well-being
  • Senior buy-in is essential
  • The links between internal and external communications are integral
  • Your organisational values should be at the core
  • Use analytics to see how you are doing
  • Take advantage of technology to reach different sections of your workforce and their locations.

Continue reading Employee engagement – it’s where it’s at!