14 May 2019

Key learnings from IoIC Live 2019

The Institute of Internal Communications held their annual conference in Bath recently, one of the hottest dates in our internal comms calendars.

Strategist Jess went along, excited to get stuck in and hear from some brilliant speakers.

With appearances from the likes of British Airways, IBM and Nestlé, IoIC Live 2019‘s line-up wasn’t one to be missed. But, just in case you did, we’ve jotted down our personal highlights and key takeaways from the day. 


1. Create a sense of pride in your workplace.

You’ve got Drew McMillan from British Airways to thank for this nugget of wisdom.

Use your internal comms to tell a story that your people can all get behind. If things have been difficult, whether that’s in the past or recently, acknowledge it! Don’t gloss over the difficulties, build them into your narrative. You’ve come a long way out to the other side, but most importantly you’ve done it together – that’s something to be proud of.


2. Put yourselves out there and answer the difficult questions

We tip our hats to Sarah Meurer at Nestlé for this one.

The world around is us is disruptive and chaotic. From Brexit to climate change, stock market volatility to political instability, we’re living in uncertain times. So, your internal comms should be completely transparent. Take a risk and be totally honest; sharing what you know and making the effort to educate your people is the most authentic thing you can do.


3. IC and AI go hand in hand

Sylvia Cambie from IBM filled us in on why internal comms should be leading digital transformation.

The value of AI is expanding – and quickly! Pretty soon, AI will play a key role in helping businesses to support their employees in their professional development. By understanding their interests, preferences and current skill set, AI will be able to recommend relevant learning and courses for employees to develop. Another bonus? With its data-gathering abilities, AI can answer the questions you might feel too awkward to ask your manager. Questions like ‘I’ve been in this position for 5 years, is this normal or am I a chump?’


4. Wellbeing can feel gimmicky – you have to make it personal

Who would be better to talk wellbeing than Matt Batten from The Royal College of Nursing?

Employee wellbeing is an important part of any EVP worth its salt. Get it right and you’ll boost productivity, leaving your people ready to tackle the daily challenges of a workplace. But to make it magic, you’ll need to make it personal. Start by focusing on the basics; ask your people what wellbeing means to them and what they think it should be, then develop your programme from the inside out.


5. Be bold, be brave and do things differently

Sarah Critchley, Communications and Engagement Senior Manager for EY, has a magic formula for capturing people’s hearts and minds. 

How can we be bold in our internal comms? There’s a lot to cut through. To grab attention and create a pioneering spirit among your people, make sure you:

  • F – face the fear and formulate a plan
  • U – unite your people
  • N – now watch what happens (you’ll be pleasantly surprised)


6. Make the most of older people in the workplace

If you want to build a truly cross-generational workforce, Martin Fitzpatrick from B&Q is your man.

We all know what millennials want from the workplace. But for some reason, nobody’s paying much attention to older generations. One in three workers are over 50, and one in seven are over 65. That’s 17 million workers over retirement age. And last year, the collective spending power of the over 50s was £473bn! They don’t seem like such a small piece of the pie now, huh?

Martin’s talk reminded everyone why they shouldn’t be neglecting their older workers. While under the 50s typically stay in a job for two years, the over 50s hang around for five. So, it’s important to make the workplace accessible for them; providing screen readers, subtitles and cultural references that are relevant to all ages can help to include them. Give them a platform to share their voice and tap into their skills – they’ve got a wealth of knowledge and experience to pass on.  


7. If you’re in an environment with low engagement, people don’t innovate

It was Nita Clarke, the writer of the Engaging for Success report, who put the spotlight on the relationship between employee engagement and innovation.

Companies need people who are adaptable, resilient and collaborative to succeed. But when businesses still operate in the age-old style of ‘command and control’, innovation can’t happen as freely.

Unsurprisingly, businesses need to trust their people. Treat them like a solution, not a problem that needs solving, and you’ll inspire them to be their very best.


8. To be a good internal communicator, you have to be a good listener first

Colin Archer from Imperial Brands speaks a lot of sense.

Not only do your internal communicators need to be close to your business, they have to be good listeners too. If you’re really listening to what your people have to say, you develop a real understanding of how the business works best and spot when things are beginning to go off the rails. When you understand your business inside and out, its quirks and charms, you’ll get to the heart of the matter and tap into the power of your people.


And that was it for another year! If you can’t wait until IoIC Live 2020 and need some help getting your internal comms up to scratch in the meantime, drop us a line or give us a call; we’re always happy to help.


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