Summer learning – what eight industry events taught us
So many events, too little time. For the last couple of months, it seems there’s been a veritable feast of employee experience conferences, webinars and seminars to choose from. They’ve certainly kept our diaries full and people busy, both as attendees and speakers.
Rather than attempting to cover everything we’ve learned from these insightful, inspirational sessions, we thought we’d ask our people to give you a review, sharing their highlights and most useful lessons from each event.
“Wearing my IoIC president’s hat, I have been working alongside the CIPR Inside team on exploring what IC measurement models and approaches are ‘out there’ and to bring best practice to the surface. The report was launched in early June.
“My key takeaways are: 1) if you don’t measure, you can’t improve; 2) one model doesn’t fit all so find what suits your organisation best and make a start; and 3) the data and analytics prove the science and art of what we do. Communicators should stop having opinions and start committing to proving impact and value.”
Suzanne Peck, Managing Director
“With people living and working longer than ever before, we’re seeing five generations of employees in the workplace for the first time – a trend that’s shaping business culture and the way we work. In a webinar for the Corporate IT Forum (CITF), Charles Fenoughty and I explained how a multi-channel approach and complementary communication style can help organisations meet increasingly diverse employee needs.
“Our main lesson? It’s that using generational preferences to segment your audience is a good start, but not enough on its own. As one IT Director told us the other day: ‘They say young people are good at technology – clearly just not the ones that we employ’.”
Paul Jones, Associate Director – Strategy, and event speaker
“My main takeaway from SMILE is that people are still leading with technology when it comes to their communications and channel mix. You’ll find that the majority of suppliers are ‘feature-selling’, promoting the respective technical benefits of their tools and systems. But no one is really pointing out that the tech is actually the same. It’s audience, purpose and mix that’s important.
“My main point is that a good channel mix with average tech will always beat a poorly planned solution, even it uses the most expensive tech out there. Engagement beats gadgets.”
Charles Fenoughty, Digital Media Director
“I was quite struck by Martin Fitzpatrick’s (B&Q) talk on the over-50s workforce. He found that while there’s lots of research around what Millennials want from the workplace, there’s nothing about the over-50s – despite one in three workers now falling into that age bracket.
“And contrary to popular belief, the over-50s also want meaning at work, have been through more digital change than any other generation, and still want to develop new skills. At B&Q, an over-50s workforce led to a 600% decrease in staff turnover and 18%increase in profits.
“Martin’s top tips were to use communication to embrace all generations without bias and unlock the over-50s’ potential to be experienced, trusted advocates.”
Debbie Forrester, Editorial Manager
“Individual, financial, organisational, societal — the impact of wellbeing is far-reaching and increasingly prevalent. This event opened my eyes to the ways different organisations are starting to wake up and accept responsibility for supporting employee wellbeing, and the impact that has both inside and outside of the workplace.
“The most interesting lesson for me came when we were told ‘wellbeing is the gateway to inclusion’. One speaker explained this by likening human individuality to X-Men. We may all look like mutants, with our superpowers and skills, but actually it’s our differences that unite us. In that vein, wellbeing is universal; it affects absolutely everyone.
“So it can’t be tackled in isolation by internal communication or HR; it must be everyone’s responsibility. After all, gym passes and free fruit are all very well and good, but if you can’t get the fundamentals like employee voice, working conditions and pay right, your wellbeing scheme will be at best ornamental, and at worst meaningless.”
Becky Leonard, Communications and Content Manager
“A series of presentations from communicators and human resources professionals highlighted the changing face of the workplace and employee expectations around the values and purpose of organisations.
“Particularly interesting was the case study from Paul Barber, chief executive of Premier League football club, Brighton. Paul described the values that everyone at the club – from the multi-millionaire footballers to the car park attendants – were expected to live in the course of their work. His message was that for values to be successful, they need to be engaging for everyone (even in a diverse culture) to create a meaningful employee experience.”
Nick Andrews, Business Development Director
“I was invited to talk in Bratislava alongside CEOs from five Slovakian and Czech Republic businesses at a special roundtable event for more than 120 communicators. I was there as IoIC president and as president-elect for the European Association of Internal Communication (FEIEA).
“My presentation was on why internal communication matters. It covered why engaged employees are our star performers, the cost to an organisation of disengaged employees, how effective engagement impacts business productivity, and why I believe internal communications matters more now than ever before.
“What was most interesting for me was how much these CEOs cared about engaged employees and that they want honest feedback and context from communicators.”
Suzanne Peck, Managing Director, and event speaker
“With the UN Secretary General diagnosing the world with a case of ‘trust deficit disorder’ and the Edelman Trust Barometer showing lower levels of trust than ever before, it’s no surprise trust was the top of the agenda at our latest Sequel Presents seminar.
“One of the most important lessons was to show authenticity in the face of adversity. Jacinda Ardern’s authentic response to the New Zealand terror attack is praised for her compassion, eloquence and strength. Leaders need not shy away from showing emotion or vulnerability; rather they should show their real selves, and be encouraged to communicate with a level of empathy that helps them connect with their followers, whether that be the public or employees.”
Christina Papathanasiou, Communications and Content Executive