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The grapevine has always been a danger to trust at work. Now, the grapevine is a 24-hour, worldwide phenomenon thanks to social media.

“Social media is like the grapevine magnified,” says Sian Jones, head of internal communications at the Bank of England, who will speak at the IoIC Insight Seminar in London on Thursday November 12. “How do we try and manage - or can we manage - the official view of things when people are bombarded by so many different sources of information and views?”

She tells November's InsideOut it’s not a challenge leaders and communicators can ignore because employees are forming their own communities of trust.

“Top-down communication is no longer enough – we need to look at the technology people are using to create communities naturally and work out how to use it to create comms from the bottom up,” she says

Sian (pictured) faced this challenge at the Department for Work & Pensions, where she worked until six months ago, especially when the 100,000 staff were asked to carry out massive change, which was often viewed as unpalatable by large sections of the public.

“People aren’t just employees of the DWP, or any organisation,” she says. “They read news, they’re bombarded with opinion on social media, they’re consumers, they don’t just get their opinion of their employer from what we tell them.

“Employees saw the negative headlines and read lots of highly critical stuff on issues like the bedroom tax, the benefits cap, disability benefits being cut, all those kind of things.”

Sian says this led to two effects: “They felt under attack all the time and that led to a lack of trust in the overall direction of the department.

“Trust in leadership is fundamental to the role of a civil servant.”

This meant the DWP had to fight back.

Sian explains how this worked in Noevmebr's InsideOut, the FREE magazine for IoIC members who can read or download it from the 'IoIC Knows' section of this website (via 'Publications' in the dropdown menu). Remember to log in first.

Sian Jones will speak at the IoIC Insight Seminar on trust in London on Thursday November 12 where she will be joined by: Anthony Burrows, group head of IC and engagement at Allied Irish Bank, Matt Stephens from Quest agency, Nick Howard of Edelman agency and Dr Katalin Illes of westminster Business School.

Click here for details.
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