The great divide

When we talked about the annual internal communication conference, and its theme Closing the Gap, the committee started to share some of the challenges we each face in our own organisations. Everyone working in internal communication or employee engagement has gaps that they need to bridge, a challenge to be overcome or connections to be made. It goes with the territory and is a part of what makes our work both challenging and rewarding. The conference theme aims to cover many of these ‘gaps’ and we thought we’d share some of the committee’s personal anecdotes with you here.

So, next up it’s Trudy Lewis and the divide she’s seen between communication and other vital departments like HR and IT.

Closing the gap

Trudy Lewis

“Throughout my career, working for various companies, I’ve seen a recurring theme, a divide between communications and back office departments. The relationship with the operational side of businesses is usually fine. They simply want to get the best advice and are willing to trust that we have the expertise to help them.

“Working with say HR and IT for instance can at times be another issue. For example, in some organisations where I’ve worked the HR teams have worked in their silos and talk a lot about engagement, but unfortunately miss out on opportunities to engage staff because of their silos.

“The great thing is that in communications we are able to guide and advise on engagement. But sadly we are often not invited to join the project team until all the strategic decisions have been made and it’s time to produce publicity for the programme.

“On a recent assignment I was working on, the HR team had decided to introduce a large-scale, company-wide engagement programme, led by the MD. The programme would involve a number of activities not least of all one that engaged the hearts and minds of all the employees to build advocacy and pride. They started the process by identifying production companies, briefing them, and then securing the company they thought would be the best to deliver the programme. All of this was done without the support of internal communications which can add value and expertise to this process. Why? It seems that it was mainly because there’s a belief that HR looks after or even owns engagement as a task and therefore they should not include communications until it’s time to go live and broadcast the news.

“The outcome was a poorly targeted, lacklustre programme of activities that got the staff out of the office, but did not achieve engagement. At the last-minute, internal communications was able to revamp some of the activities and tailor them to the audiences, adding an element of feedback to round-up and conclude the programme.

It’s difficult to see, because we want to make the best and most effective programme with our budgets and for our people. When you see a missed opportunity it can be frustrating.

“In this scenario, the first issue was that HR believed that they owned engagement and as a result were reluctant to involve other areas to support or advise on best practice. Secondly, the programme could have been developed internally had HR involved internal communications. The internal comms team had the expertise to develop and deliver the programme and were very familiar with the audience.

the divide

“It seems that internal comms often has to do a bit of its own internal PR, helping departments understand the value the team can bring to projects if brought in early. We need to be in the room from the outset and get involved early so we can help other departments communicate well and in this case budgets could have been saved too.

“Ironically, the solution is all about better communication. We need to talk more and build trust. Then perhaps HR would be more open to our support and less protective of their confidential projects. And on the other hand, maybe internal communication professionals should be more vocal and demonstrative of the skills and expertise they have and why it could help make projects work even better.

“There is a great divide. But much of that divide can be bridged through mutual respect and understanding of the differences between the two disciplines. Spending a little more time talking and building trust can go a long way.”

Thank you to Trudy for being the second committee member to share her experience for ‘closing the gap’.

Where are the gaps in your organisation?

closing the gap

Every organisation has gaps, places where internal communication can make improvements. What are  your challenges? What are you doing to get a solution that works for your business?

Every organisation is different, its focus is different and the approaches needed are different – but we can all learn from each other. We’d love to share your ‘gap stories’ with the community here, so drop us a mail to

Book your conference tickets today

Closing the Gap, our annual internal communication conference is on 4 October in London. Book early to get the early bird ticket price. Members always get the best prices. Take advantage of additional discounts with your order of Big Yak tickets , or through AllthingsIC for non members.

Check out the videos of some of last year’s presentation that have just been uploaded.

Image credit: Featured Image:, other images our own



  1. Liam Fitzpatrick says:

    Consultants and practitioners?

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