Tag Archives: internal communications

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. “

Half of firms ‘failing to monitor intranet engagement’

Measurement is big business in today’s internal communications industry.

And rightly so.

As modern day internal communicators, we have the tools to monitor the effectiveness of messaging, channels, tools and techniques.

Comms veteran Sean Williams pointed this out in a hugely popular blog post: “We need to make decisions based on facts and data, not conjecture and conventional wisdom. That takes research.”

Such an approach makes perfect sense.

In fact IC experts across the board seem eager to put more emphasis on strategy in employee communications.

With this in mind, the latest research emerging on intranet measurement is somewhat alarming.

The report, commissioned by the Intra.NET Reloaded London 2017 event, saw more than 200 organisations quizzed over intranet habits.

More than 80 per cent of respondents confirmed they use analytics to track user habits.

However less than half (38 per cent) actually report the findings on a monthly basis.

The remaining 62 per cent did it less frequently – with one in ten NEVER reporting any findings to senior leadership.

Other key findings include:

• 65 per cent of respondents established an intranet before 2010.

• SharePoint was the most popular platform – with almost half (48 per cent) opting for the Microsoft tool.

• Responsibility for the intranet launch sat firmly with IC professionals (39 per cent) followed by IT (29 per cent) and Marketing Comms (16 per cent).

• More than half (59 per cent) have a dedicated marketing budget specifically for the organisation’s intranet.

To read the full report, click here….

Improving internal comms ‘will help boost external marketing’

Perhaps internal comms and marketing professionals should start listening to Jack Johnson.

The popular US singer-songwriter, of course, enjoyed a 2006 smash with “Better Together”.

It’s a concept that today’s IC and marketing departments would do well to heed.

Marketing expert Scott Vaughan believes marketing teams need to look inwards first to boost their external offering.

Scott, who is the CMO of Integrate, a marketing technology software provider, wrote in this blog post: “While marketing teams rightly focus heavily on external customers and stakeholders, we’re missing an important audience in our mission; we must extend our focus to educating, inspiring and showcasing our work to key internal stakeholders.

“Ironically, marketing is notoriously bad at internal communications and collaboration. The storytelling component is often absent, and the data shared is sporadic.

“Neglecting to dedicate necessary time to involve other departments in marketing’s efforts greatly limits a company’s collective ability to delight customers and grow revenue.”

It’s not the first time experts have suggested marketers are too focused on external audiences – to the detriment of their own colleagues.

Research undertaken back in 2015 suggested “marketing teams need to concentrate on IC – to build engagement for their work within the rest of the workplace”.

So how can marketing and internal communications teams become more in sync?

Scott continued: “One of the best ways to get continuous or additional internal support required to help you execute your next big initiative is to dedicate some time to not just sharing results — awesome, average and even atrocious — but involving the key stakeholders in jointly setting the target KPIs and metrics.

“This means locking arms early in the process with peers who can help you move the needle. If they help set the target KPIs, there is ownership in helping you and your team hit them.

“Your internal communications efforts will help you improve your marketing results if applied diligently and consistently.

“Marketers’ trademark is storytelling, engaging audiences and getting them to act.

“There’s no time like right now to start applying those mad marketing skills – internally, as well as you do externally.”

To read the full blog, click here ….

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.