It feels inevitable that leaner times lie ahead – at least in the short term until the metaphorical mist surrounding Brexit clears.
But what does this mean for internal communication professionals? Will we be expected to deliver the same – or more – with less? If so, how? Or could there be ways to preserve budget allocations going forward?
Headlines’ CEO Peter Doherty shares his thoughts on these and other questions.
Q) Should IC professionals be anticipating smaller budgets post-Brexit?
A) “Most people I talk to in business agree that the big issue is not Brexit but productivity. The current uncertainty around Brexit isn’t helpful and people are having to plan budgets around it, but decision-makers see it as a short-term blip and are confident there will be future stability.
“Despite a recent small upturn, productivity remains the big underlying challenge and is an enduring priority with or without Brexit. Failure to improve productivity is a major reason why the UK’s growth has slowed and why some businesses are tightening their belts. This will put internal communication budgets under pressure, but there is no harm in having to justify spending by demonstrating the return it generates.”
Q) Is it possible for IC professionals to do the same (or more) with less?
A) “It’s always possible to do the same or more for less – and in most cases that does not mean by working harder. Economic growth and improving prosperity only occur when you do more for less – and IC is not exempt from doing its bit.
“Improving productivity involves working smarter, being better organised, cutting out the things that get in the way, using better tools, technology and ideas, prioritising the things that you can demonstrate make the right kind of difference, and getting rid of the things that don’t.”
Q) What advice would you give to IC practitioners who are likely to be faced with difficult budget decisions?
A) “If you can justify what you do as delivering the right kind of results, you have a very good case to avoid budget reductions. If you can’t, you don’t.
“IC departments should be playing a key role in helping businesses to improve productivity, and at the same time they should be improving their own productivity. So when funds are hard to come by, more than ever they need to demonstrate they are making a measurable difference in helping the business to perform better, and therefore delivering a return on investment.
“I’d be making the case that my budget was well spent and delivers a return. I would be scrutinising every aspect of my spending and looking for evidence that it is making the right sort of difference and ultimately contributing to the bottom line.
“With my team, I would revisit the core purpose of internal communication – and benchmark our activities and spending against these criteria.
“I’d also look at how effectively we’re working and how we can eliminate or mitigate the things that waste time, money or effort. “