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March 19, 2013 Transcript of #CommsChat on employee engagement

Last week, we were joined by Katie Hadgraft (@KatieHadgraft), head of employee communications and engagement at the Essex County Council. Hadgraft’s team oversaw an internal engagement programme that recently took home the CIPR Inside award for best employee engagement.

Some tweets that caught our eye:

@Engagingbrand Its not the big messages that is so hard, it is the informal chatter than creates the emotional engagement
@PeterMBarrett Always think the best #internalcomms people have one eye on the survey, & both ears on the corridor chat. Simplified, but agree?
@adamrubins communication (and structure) is a fundamental tool of day to day business management no matter which sector
@KatieHadgraft action planning is team driven (as well as a corporate action plan) so results are at a local level
And the full trancript
  1. Thanks a lot for organising and to everyone else. Informative and fun as usual!

  2. That’s – really enjoyed my first . – until next time!!

  3. a big thanks to Thanks so much for joining us tonight,

  4. Agree! We have Board level engagement plan & then local leaders have autonomy 2 pursue their own.

  5. but really happy to continue the conversation with anyone offline on another day!

  6. you mean are we doing it now? It’s three way now! 😉

  7. afraid I also have to go now, my dog is getting restless! thanks for being so welcoming for my first comms chat!

  8. I guess it is a two-way comms. I think we are doing it, plse tell me if we are not.

  9. As always, a full transcript will be up on the CommsChat site tomorrow. We’ll be back next Monday.

  10. wow, that hour went quickly – the big hand’s at 9, which is the time I bow out. But if you’re enjoying the chat, please carry on

  11. but that’s also fair enough- at least you’re communicating it and acknowledging that you’ve considered it.

  12. mind you, sometimes we also have to be honest and say, you said and we didn’t because xyz

  13. yes we don’t see it as particularly risky – quite good fun to demonstrate progress at grass root level

  14. Good idea RT: we also run a ‘you said, we did’ campaign across the year to demonstrate action following our survey

  15. online channels will play part-heard of companies encouraging staff to log on in own time if don’t have access at work

  16. not risky if you are actually demonstrating action is it?

  17. I they are already here. I have used a Facebook like platform in a previous role

  18. but we do have Lync and video via laptop – big step forward!

  19. like anything else I imagine there will be less of a personal touch

  20. RT : we also have a private Facebook feed to share best practice and internal news

  21. you’re lucky – we can’t access Facebook!!

  22. we also have a private Facebook feed to share best practice and internal news

  23. yes they can-though as you say, it’s hard to reach all.Online channels encourage interaction too which is gd

  24. action planning is team driven (as well as a corporate action plan) so results are at a local level

  25. digital platforms will certainly come into play. We use Lync and Skype to communicate as well as email

  26. All sounds amazing – no wonder you won. Can we speak offline at some point soon. Would love to cover yr activities

  27. That is risky, but I guess it’s also a good source of information.

  28. love this idea- empowers employees… Creates engagement!

  29. Post survey advice MT@sophiemgrant: – follow up workshops -great idea. Acting on the information you receive encourages employees

  30. The fault in surveys is -emps don’t believe change will follow.Following up&engaging f2f sounds old-but it’s crucial!

  31. Topic5 What will the future look like for internal communications?

  32. and with only nine mins to go lets move on. Our last topic for the night…

  33. that is positive but need to encourage staff to take control

  34. SNAP Katie! Board Member presence a bonus!Also our Embassies do PulseSurveys regularly 2 check progress.

  35. we also run a ‘you said, we did’ campaign across the year to demonstrate action following our survey

  36. w/ 10 mins left a word from sponsors, Communicate mag. March issue on ipad now has a live CommsChat feed

  37. – follow up workshops -great idea. Acting on the information you greceive encourages employees

  38. our Your Voice Engagement Day was a follow up to the survey but allowed us to heat map engagement too

  39. online channels can provide really insightful measurement-as long as everyone has access!

  40. Regular conversations with them, if they come to me with ideas.

  41. with much advance in management of metrics & measurement, are surveys the best we can do in measuring engagement?

  42. sounds a bit like us – it’s all in the post survey work and action planning

  43. Office use annual survey,but also supplement wiv follow up workshops which Board members attend to drill down.

  44. interestingly we’re at 47% for that question in our most recent survey

  45. RT : the obvious -surveys-but although useful in finding info on emp attitudes &behaviour, they don’t reach everyone

  46. Only 29%! Wow… I wonder if question explained clearly or they’re just unhappy or both.

  47. dont forget to use the hashtag on your responses – always better to share

  48. True RT : I hadn’t thought of ego, but you’re right there. Ego doesn’t have a place in biz.

  49. Agreed!Hope more individuals in businesses see it that way! There wouldn’t then be any serious issues

  50. RT : I hadnt thought of ego, but youre right there. Ego doesnt have a place in biz.

  51. I hadn’t thought of ego, but you’re right there. Ego doesn’t have a place in biz.

  52. Absolutely. You can only really improve by finding where the cracks are.

  53. There’re always stuff out there that we can learn from each other & if ego-free, boom! productivity!

  54. I often wonder it’s easier in biz than in personal life! Offtopic, sorry…

  55. Topic4 How do you measure employee engagement?

  56. hearing a lot of stats from – with talk of stats and measurement perhaps it’s time to move on to topic 4…

  57. Admitting to own mistakes is great as it needs courage but do something to improve needs commitment.

  58. I know. But, it’s key to hear what they say to learn from that and see if we can use it.

  59. yes, that vocational element is a really important engagement driver

  60. Another stat from that huge annual survey:just 29% feel change is managed well in their organisation.

  61. From my own perspective public sector want to make a difference to succeed despite challenges – own morale as better than service

  62. maybe but I guess the banks have suffered from the same sort of media bashing lately so lots of similarities too

  63. Our business likes to think this is how we work but are mistaken 9 times out of 10…

  64. I suppose I was meaning perception is drawn from papers writing on govt, hard to change internally?

  65. audience?Public sector can be more vocationial-nurses, teachers etc-more loyalty compared to private?

  66. Great! This is how orgs can ensure innovation & productivity; inclusion culture!

  67. because of less money, but also constant media & political bashing, is there a lower starting point in morale from public sector?

  68. well certainly for us there’s a bit political element to our work and Members have to be taken into account

  69. RT : I am actually doing just that, engaging other employees to get their experiences.

  70. Is one issue that Government controls the messaging in a way to public & therefore employees?

  71. I am actually doing just that, engaging other employees to get their experiences.

  72. RT : The 36% -frm 2012CivilService survey.So Empyee Voice is crucial to engagement,but thats assuming that trust exists

  73. we have lots of very long serving people who live for the customer – but can be change resistant

  74. communication (and structure) is a fundamental tool of day to day business management no matter which sector

  75. The 36% -from 2012CivilService survey.So Empyee Voice is crucial to engagement,but that is assuming that trust exists!

  76. I can imagine – I suppose it means you have to be more creative in the way you communicate!

  77. I guess budget is biggest difference in public and private sector. But budget aside, what are differences

  78. Maybe ideal to have all managers dealing with customers involved in defining strategy.

  79. Yep, just that. I thought you’d said that.

  80. Justifying it in terms of using funds in accordance with the public value. More scrutiny on all expenditure now.

  81. sorry, should have read are the obstacles in the public sector different to those in the private?

  82. Hi – I just posted on this, you read my mind. We make do and mend but it is not easy.

  83. are the obstacels in the public sector to those in the private?

  84. um, not that you can’t engage with no money (as we have shown) but – there is no money in the public sector!

  85. How much does a lack of budget impact your ability to engage public sector employees?

  86. yes, all employees invited, hosted by snr managers who were briefed etc, across whole county

  87. I think engagement is an outcome created thru leading through vision listening with passion and learning from everyone

  88. Topic3 What obstacles does the public sector face in engaging its employees?

  89. following comments on obstacles, makes it a great time to turn to topic 3….

  90. A “strategy” is defined by the business. A comms “plan”, including media used, delivers it. Who’s “us”?

  91. yes, constant prob – feedback/engagement typically comes from the already engaged. How reach unengaged…

  92. sounds really interesting! Would love to hear more. Did that involve all employees? 🙂

  93. So true! RT : new vehicle = shiny new toys. Bet you’ve had: “We need an app.”

  94. – indeed, just because its new doesn’t mean it’s necessarily needed or helpful.

  95. Hi this post may be of interest “The Year Our Business Went Social”

  96. No, I did mean strategy but I can see exactly where you’re coming from.

  97. yes, we have that challenge too – have tried hard to engage during massive change programme

  98. new vehicle = shiny new toys. Bet you’ve had: “We need an app.”

  99. RT : Obstacles 2 Empyee Eng in PubSector:only 36% say have oportunity 2 giv views B4 decisions R made that affect them

  100. : be careful to listen to voice of unengaged too – EEs SO engaged it can distort! –> yes, v important.

  101. we’ve worked with L&D to create a special development course for managers with low engaged teams

  102. So; enlighten us. Define a strategy if you’re so quick to pooh-pooh weekly content delivery.

  103. Obstacles 2 Empyee Eng in PubSector:only 36% say they have oportunity 2 giv views B4 decisions R made that affect them.

  104. We find that middle managers become a bottle neck for the big corporate messages » bored already with the “treacle layer” argument

  105. we also held a Your Voice Engagement Day for the whole of ECC – 48 venues, over 800 employees – one day

  106. Feeling a little aggressive there, Sean? Not sure I want to ENGAGE with someone quite so terse.

  107. during change trying to encourage cross-functional groups to get broad viewpoints

  108. Yep People try & bring freshness thru vehicle but new vehicles don’t make bad content driver, great

  109. we do have to be careful to listen to the voice of the unengaged too though – the EEs are SO engaged it can distort!

  110. any tips on how you might encourage communication between departments? We work far too much in silos

  111. RT : Always think the best people have one eye on the survey, & both ears on the corridor chat.

  112. re the Essex Engagers, does anyone else employ similar methods of bringing about a similar sense of community

  113. agree – we love employee contributions and we use Yammer to build a sense of community too

  114. Always think the best people have one eye on the survey, & both ears on the corridor chat. Simplified, but agree?

  115. Consult, ask your staff. More likely to come up with relevant solutions & employees more likely to buy in to changes.

  116. helping your employees feel that they are contributing to whatever communication channel you use?

  117. I believe in not using vehicle to keep it fresh but the content..write as u would for customers to engage emotionally

  118. RT : since when was a newsletter a strategy? –> Fair cop, gov..

  119. A weekly briefing document collecting and focussing the key output of a head-office could be seen as a strategy?

  120. you can thank my colleague for that! and yes, there is a strong sense of community for us

  121. we work really hard to encourage f2f comms wherever we can

  122. Such a great name. I guess that ‘sense of belonging’ is important too?

  123. Diversifying the means of delivery? Magazines? Blogs? Internal Branding?

  124. Topic2 How do you keep things fresh by expanding upon now-rote strategies like newsletters?

  125. We’ve started covering topic 2 already – particularly with talk of teh Essex Engagers 🙂 But its a good segway to topic two

  126. Very true, Kirsty. MMs and LMMs can hold up the process of engagement by hanging on to information for too long.

  127. just internal – volunteers and they are so great – help out with all our events (no money at ECC)

  128. RT Hi Kirsty from KCC. We find that middle managers become a bottle neck for the big corporate messages

  129. : so – 1st topic – What are the challenges in engaging a massive, far-flung group of employees? ” one for

  130. well we work really hard to get the big messages across – lots of change at ECC – but yes, informal networks work

  131. Agreed, especially if they are the ‘experts on the ground’.

  132. ha – like the sound of the Essex Engager. are they just internal, or do they include any external audience?

  133. Its not the big messages that is so hard, it is the informal chatter than creates the emotional engagement

  134. yes, that’s it! really interesting. we use Yammer too.

  135. we have a great group of people called the Essex Engagers – use them to ‘temperature check’ sentiment

  136. It can be, especially when you have an up-to 16pp brief to deliver each week to a wide range of staff types

  137. our local managers need a lot of help from us in ‘translating’ the key messages

  138. How do you judge the “heat” in your heat maps?

  139. is that a problem – local managers controlling the message?

  140. yes, I think you read about what we are doing with Yammer, written by my boss

  141. Colleagues are in another city& help out with socialmedia, which is gr8t. Direction & monitoring are the challenges

  142. agree 100% – it’s not all about the formal stuff. We get informal ‘heat maps’ of engagement outside surveys

  143. Engagement is tough when comms are filtered through management of national sites.

  144. RT : One aspect is ensuring that you find time for casual convs and comms…to understand real issues

  145. you sound like your challenge is international?

  146. One aspect is ensuring that you find time for casual convs and comms…to understand real issues

  147. we have people in retirement schemes and lone workers that are hard to reach.

  148. RT : Balancing fairness & consistency with cultural sensitivities if talking about global perspectives

  149. Hi Pamela – nice to meet you! Did I read something about some good work you were doing in Manchester?

  150. I am a small online retailer who loves to communicate

  151. Balancing fairness & consistency with cultural sensitivities if we’re talking about global perspectives

  152. who out there has that challenge of communicating with remote employees? Is their engagemenr a challenge?

  153. hi Katie. I’m Pamela from Northwards Housing in Manchester. Really looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

  154. for us, managers are the challenge – and we’re only talking in Essex, not very far-flung!

  155. and thank you for introducing me Andrew.

  156. Hello all, I’m Sophie and I work at in Farnham. Looking forward to joining in tonight- my first

  157. so – our first topic – What are the challenges in engaging a massive, far-flung group of employees?

  158. and saying that – I’m andrew thomas, publishing editor of Communicate magazine and producer of

  159. please all join in, but do remember, it’s always polite to give a little tweet of intoroduction first

  160. Great to be here for my first-ever comms chat!

  161. Hadgraft’s team oversaw an internal engagement programme that recently took home th CIPR Inside award fr best employee engagement

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