Tag Archives: ic

What’s the best way to connect with five generations of employees?

For the first time ever, there are now five generations of employees working alongside one another.

From Maturists – whose parents fought in the Second World War – to Generation Z, who were born after 1995 and were raised in a completely digital world, it’s now more difficult than ever for managers to find a communications channel suitable enough to reach out to every different kind of employee.

The five generations



Baby Boomers


Generation X


Generation Y


Generation Z

(Born after 1995)

Percentage in the U.K workforce 3% 33% 35% 29% Currently employed in part-time jobs or new apprenticeships
Communication media Formal letter Telephone Email and text message Text of social media Hand-held (or integrated into clothing) communication devices
Communication preference Face-to-face Face-to-face ideally, but telephone or email if required Text messaging or email Online and mobile (text messaging) Facetime
Source: Barclays

A study conducted by Dr. Paul Redmond, an expert in generational theory, suggests that Maturists and Baby Boomers prefer to be given information face-to-face, whereas recent generations of employees favour a more digital approach.

IC shouldn’t be governed by generational differences, but employers need to be sensitive to the fact that each generation has had very different experiences and education, which means they can have very different communications preferences as a result.

Baby Boomers grew up without PCs, while the internet enabled Millennials to have the answer to any question at their fingertips. It’s not surprising then, that older generations tend to prefer face-to-face communication, because the Internet was introduced to them at a later age.

It’s too impractical to have managers relay a large amount of information verbally, especially if your staff work in different locations. And while relying on email to appeal to younger generations is easy, it can be difficult to achieve the right tone, so there is a risk that the message could be misunderstood.

You should never fall into the trap of grouping colleagues into generations, for example by assuming that older people don’t know how to use mobile phones, or that younger employees are obsessed with social media, but also it is important to understand that your workforce will be extremely diverse, and there will never be a catch-all solution to getting messages out effectively.

Use a variety of channels to target all your employees – without going overboard.

For important comms, it may be useful to send out an email and a written letter, in order to get the message out to both digital and traditional employees. More relaxed comms can be integrated into channels that people like to use, such as Facebook, Snapchat or Twitter.

Social media is an ideal channel for light-hearted comms, like alerting colleagues about the Christmas party, spreading the word about a charity event or just recognising someone for a job well done. However, remember that many people do not use social media, or may not want to use their personal accounts for work, so you may need to encourage them to join in with the conversation.

Stick to variety in order to reach out to as many people as possible, while ensuring that there is one consistent channel that contains every bit of employee information. This lets colleagues rely on a source for information should they wish to seek it.

The intranet is a great channel to use as a foundation for internal comms, as long as employers ensure that every colleague has access to it. Employers could also choose to use their own digital notice board or a website such as Workplace by Facebook, as a channel to publish all internal comms.

While the intranet acts as a database for internal comms, email, Instagram and letters operate as secondary channels to reinforce information and to reach out to all generations in the workplace.

It might be useful to review your internal comms mix to make sure that the channels you are using are successfully getting information out to all and are offering colleagues the opportunity to engage with you in a meaningful way.

IC budgets in a post-Brexit world

Whatever your views on Brexit, nobody can deny the uncertainty that surrounds it. And if there’s one thing finance directors hate, it’s uncertainty.

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. “

Do you love where you work?

Loving where you work isn’t only good for you, it’s good for your employer, too – as it improves your productivity and performance.

That’s why Milton Keynes employee communications agency Headlines is backing a new Engage for Success group helping local business to foster a culture of #lovewhereyouwork.

Launched in May, the group is one of a number being established around the country through Engage for Success (EFS), a voluntary organisation backed by Government and major corporations, that aims to grow awareness about the power and potential of employee engagement.

Research by EFS points to staff turnover being reduced by 40%, absenteeism by 25% and productivity increased by 59% in companies with high levels of employee engagement.

Headlines’ Managing Editor Sue Kiddy has been involved with the national EFS movement since its inauguration at 10 Downing Street in 2011 and is one of the founder members of EFS MK. She said: “Employee engagement truly does have the power to change lives and working communities, and more and more organisations are recognising the benefits. EFS MK is about local people and organisations coming together to promote and share this in and around Milton Keynes.”

At the first EFS MK meeting in May, Engage for Success Executive Director Cathy Brown talked about the four enablers of engagement that apply in any scenario – wherever you are, whatever you do and whoever you’re engaging with. You can read more about these in this article written by Headlines’ Matt Johnson.

The next meeting is on 21 September, and if you’re interested in coming along or finding out more about the group, please contact Sue Kiddy.

Now in its 23rd year, Headlines is a specialist internal communications agency based in Milton Keynes. With clients that include some of the world’s best-known companies, the agency creates internal publications and other tools to help build a higher-performing culture through improved employee communication and engagement.

Find out more on the Headlines website.

Internal comms error blamed for car explosion

Internal communications is, quite rightly, regarded as a very serious business.

And on the odd occasion when IC goes badly wrong, the fallout can be difficult.

But rarely does an internal comms fail happen in such spectacular fashion that a car is blown up as a result.

Cumbria Police cited ‘an internal communications error’ as the reason why a controlled explosion was carried out on a ‘suspicious’ car.

Bomb squad officers carried out the explosion outside Workington police station in February after concerns were voiced about a Vauxhall Corsa parked outside.

However it turned out colleagues had parked the car outside the station after helping its owner, who had been taken ill.

The gaffe cost £2,000, according to BBC News. This includes repairs and recovery of the car, as well as overtime costs in connection with the incident.

A force spokesperson told BBC News with “information known at the time, appropriate action was taken with public safety prioritized.”
The forced intended to “ensure this does not happen again,” he said.

An IC fail can indeed have unintentional, not to mention serious, repercussions – just ask Vauxhall.

An IC faux pas saw news of the French car manufacturer PSA Group‘s £1.9 billion purchase of General Motors’ European unit, which includes Vauxhall, leak in the press.

However they had not told the staff involved – sparking anger among employees amid concerns over job security and pensions.

The psychology of workplace change

Stephanie Davies, Laughology Founder and CEO, takes the hot seat, blogging about the psychology of change at work.

Change is a word that can cause all kinds of emotional responses. Some people view change as negative, while others see it as positive. But now, even the way change happens is changing, which means there’s a lot to get our heads around.

These days, many modern businesses treat change as a continuum, rather than a finite process. The fast pace of the world means that many organisations position transformation as continuous improvement, especially those that are constantly evolving to stay ahead of the game and future-proof themselves.

Ways of working, lifestyles and services are developing all the time, forcing organisations to evolve with them. For example, office spaces and set working hours will be a thing of the past before we know it and communicating at work will be more about social media platforms and instant messaging.

We will all need to become learning ninjas, constantly updating our skills to match new systems and beat the competition.

By helping employees to grasp this concept and improving their resilience, adaptive thinking, flexibility and growth mindset, you can ensure they are future fit. Businesses need people who can think and adapt quickly and effortlessly and who will and feel positive about doing so.

As Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

At Laughology we would advise you to:

1. Support your workforce in becoming future fit.
– Be clear about why continuous development is important – what does it mean for the organisation, why is it important for the business and how will it help in future?
– Share ideas, inspire with vision and engage people with their own development
– Lead the way. You should make sure managers have the knowledge, people skills and coaching skills to successfully evolve their teams
– Create the right culture. A culture of continual learning and trust built through honest positive, open communication will impact how people adapt to new ideas
– Help employees to understand where you are now and what needs to happen to get you to the next stage; this will make change easier to stomach. Small, manageable and well-communicated steps
will help people feel more in control and happy about development.

2. Become a growth mindset business.
Organisations that welcome new ideas and experience are the best performers. Too often, businesses can stifle experimentation due to fear of failure and because it’s easier to stay in their comfort zone. But it’s a changing world. Invite new ideas and ensure that resources and encouragement are available for your people to continuously learn and develop.

3. Pause, assess and celebrate.
Encouraging your team to take a deep dive into the process behind its own successes and failures will maximise learning and improve performance by instigating employee-driven change . We work in such fast-paced environments that it’s easy to finish one project and move straight onto the next without pausing to ask what worked well and what could be done differently next time.

4. Reinforce growth mindset practices through communications.
To have a true growth mindset, an organisation needs to constantly highlight and reinforce growth mindset practices. Try encouraging your people to share their favourite recent examples of their growth mindset with their teams, and share growth mindset success stories through your channels at every opportunity, across the whole organisation.