Mission possible

A group of 15 internal communications professionals came to get the low down on how to reach remote workforces at our latest ask the guru event on Tuesday 18th September.

Jane Edbrooke, Richard Howat and Richard Jordan shared their knowledge and experience during the evening at The Well, Clerkenwell – a great location for our informal event.

There was not a power point slide in the room, just a group of professionals sharing ideas and challenges over a glass of wine. Colleagues from a range of companies attended, from the retail sector like Marks & Spencer to the public sector represented by professionals from the NHS and Business Standards Industry.

The three great gurus, all in house, spoke to small groups of about 5 people for 20-30 minutes. Then ‘change’ was called and people went to chat to another guru. Everyone got to speak to everyone during the course of the evening. Conversation was flowing so well, it was hard to get people to move around.

So, what was discussed:

Jane Edbrooke, Internal Communications Manager at Nuffield Health, reaches out to staff in Nuffield gyms across the country, many of whom don’t have access to a computer. Her aim is for all staff to know they work for Nuffield Health (when many work in corporately branded gyms) and understand that the company has gyms and hospitals and is about all round health and wellbeing. Jane is focusing on getting messages to line managers and ensuring messages are cascaded this way. Jane has created line manager bulletins to support this initiative.  A big focus on social media is helping to reach out to their young employee base, however this has brought its own challenges.

Richard Howat, Internal Communications Business Partner at Network Rail, is responsible for  communicating with over 30,000 people across the country, the majority of whom are remote, for example signallers, track workers or engineers. Due to shifts, people do not even see their line manager regularly. One of Richard’s most successful initiatives was launching a red top tabloid paper with all the news employees need to know, in a style that is appealing to them. Over time, Richard hopes to share this paper electronically on tablets. Safety is a top priority for Network Rail and short monthly films are shown with discussion points afterwards.

Richard Jordan, Corporate Communications Director, Barclays Investment Bank has 37,000 employees all over the world to communicate with. His most successful platform is the intranet, which is state of the art as it sits behind the client facing website. The intranet is personalised for each employee ensuring the most relevant topics are shared with the right people. Employees in America will see local news about developments in their office as well as global news about their area of work. There are lots of Chinese walls in the world of finance and social media needs to be controlled. In many cases, people in different areas of the business cannot know what each other are working on. Richard hopes to set up numerous social media groups rather than allowing the whole company to chat freely.

One of the organisers Helen Theofanous said: “It was a fascinating evening hearing from fellow internal comms colleagues. It was revitalising, and gave me lots of fresh ideas. There was loads of chat and great to meet colleagues from different sectors”.

The next event is on Tuesday 22 November and will be all about face to face communication. Two actresses will be sharing great advice on getting your message across successfully.

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  1. Pingback: Overcoming the weapons of mass distraction | Diary of an internal communicator

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