Summertime blues – not here

We always love to hear from our community and share advice and ideas that you have with everyone else. This week we’re really pleased to hear from Sheila Parry, founder at theblueballroom and a renowned internal communicator.

Over to Sheila:

Sheila Parry

Sheila Parry

After twenty years of full-on family life, say “September” and I still think of bribing my mother-in-law to sew on hundreds of name-tapes onto three sets of school uniform and the last-minute rush to buy “suitable” shoes. But to the rest of the population, apparently, September is one of the two most popular months to change job. At the beginning of the year, the Institute of Leadership & Management released figures that showed more than one third of the UK working population wanted to change their jobs in 2015, so employers need to get ready for the year’s second wave of recruitment activity.  After a week or two away from work in July and August, some have had time to think and the others have been disrupted by unwanted contact from the office. As a result, thousands of UK employees will be coming back to work with one thing to say: ‘I quit’.

Hopefully the majority of us on the CIPR Inside forum are on a different tack. Rolling out Quarter 4 Comms activity, running a few conferences, kicking off new projects for our existing employer, 2016 budget planning, and so on. But, from the internal communications department, how can you help your company stem the talent tide and really make an impact on employee engagement?

stem the tide

Share the vision

First of all, get to know your leadership team. What makes them tick? Have they really put a people focus into their business planning? Do they recognise what employees give and what they need to take from work? Have they defined a future vision? Do they understand how people contribute to the business’ success? Do they recognise how employees need to develop to continue to achieve the company’s goals?  You probably feel confident about your brand strategy. (If you don’t, add that to your list straight away). Then find out about the HR/People Strategies in your business and any policies that are shaping the future of your workforce and your workplace. And don’t give up when you find out. That’s the time to put your communications hat on: help them articulate the future, share it, in a way that means something to the people across your business.


Second, network remorselessly inside your organisation, get to know what every job is about – or if that’s too ambitious, every department. Make connections with people, and make them mean something. If someone is a great manager, learn about their style, what makes them effective, how they interact with their teams. If some teams are struggling, or disempowered, try to create opportunities for giving feedback, share the wisdom from better managers, or arrange coaching of new skills.


Thirdly, prove the value of connections to other people. Collaboration is about finding common goals, complementary skills, areas where employees can help each other, and breaking down silos. Communicators should be absolute role models in this area, to be brave enough to think that no question is too stupid to ask or to prove that two heads are always better than one.

Some people leave their jobs for greater opportunities or better pay, and none of us can do much about that. But if your colleagues are leaving for better management or cultures that are more conducive to collaborative working, these are the areas that we can all impact and, as communicators, we should have the courage to step up.

If you would like to read more about theblueballroom’s approach to employee engagement, see our PRIDE section of our website.

And now for holiday reading: rather than polishing up my CV, I’m looking forward to reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari and Rachel Biggs’ All Day Long . Forget the Guardian Media Jobsite, what will you be reading on holiday?


A big thank you to Sheila for sharing this with us, if you have something to share please get in touch, we love to hear from you.

And don’t miss our summer drinks on 26 August to help you beat any summertime blues, or indeed our conference to book and look forward to on 13 October. Both will be great places to network, be inspired and reconnect with your profession. Take a look out our events page here.

Image credit: Sheila’s profile – her own. Featured image: CCO

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