About Us


Professional Development

Knowledge Hub




Industry News

So, yesterday at IoIC Live was awesome. And now we're ready to go for day two. Stay with us...

Nita Clarke OBE is our first speaker and is talking about why employee engagement is important – now than ever. "You are a critical part of taking the agenda of employee performance and productivity forward."

Nita explains how she came to think about the importance of engaging employees, and writing the Engaging for Success report with David Macleod in 2007/08.

“It seemed to be there were some insights around how people can be motivated and developed at work and enabled to bring their whole selves to work. It wasn’t exactly new – it was, well, duhh… My experience of working at No.10 was that the culture of engagement was more conspicuous by its absence than its presence.

“So I went to Peter Mandelson and said it was important for the government for two reasons: the government is a huge employer, so if there are some insights around good practice at work in terms of getting people engaged, we should be interested in it as an employer. But it seems to me that some of these insights go some way to explaining the performance and productivity gap that we know the UK has. If people are being encouraged to do their best at work, of course. that’s going to impact on productivity.”

Nita entertains us all by telling us that she received an OBE for her role in the Engaging for Success report, receiving an OBE from the Queen herself. "It was all going fine until the Queen asked me, 'So what is employee engagement?' I started explaining – with jazz hands and everything – and some people had to come and move me along."


“Innovation is an absolute priority for every organisation. People innovate when it is safe and secure to do. If you’re in an environment with low engagement, people do not innovate.” – Nita Clarke.

Organisations are still, largely, operating in the default setting of command and control, says Nita Clarke: “We need people that are adaptable, resilient, collaborative, engaged and able to face the future. Most organisations are still like cartoon characters running to the edge of the cliff – and we wonder why people are not engaging and committing to the organisation. It’s because we’re still treating them like children.”


Nita Clarke OBE: “When my first boss said jump, I said, ‘How high?’ If I say that to people at work now, they ask, ‘Why? I’m not saying I won’t jump, but I want to know why.’

“People want to trust and be trusted and they want their mental health to be considered. People want meaning and purpose and to feel they are working for an ethical organisation – and that’s the same as if you are working in McDonalds or the NHS.

But keeping the show on the road is difficult, says Nita. “If you think people are the problem, you’re going to have to keep squeezing, controlling and monitoring, and treating employees like naughty children. If you think they are the solution, you will inspire them, respect them and trust them.”



Nita outlines the four key priorities for employee engagement that she and David Macleod uncovered in their report:

  • Strategic narrative – the story; the past, present and future. “The sense of alignment between what you do and the overall purpose of the organisation is incredibly important. That’s where IC comes in, making sure the story consistently communicated.”
  • Engaging managers – “We make people managers because they were quite good at their last job, but we have no idea how their people skills are. But our relationships with our managers, and being treated like an individual, is critical.”
  • Employee voice – the biggest risk to organisations today is reputational risk. “Think of the big names who are suffering or have suffered under public scrutiny. The common thread in every single public enquiry is that everyone in the organisation knew what was going on. It was never a surprise. It was allowed to happen. And there was no employee voice – either people were so hacked off – ‘It’s just what happens round here’ – or people tried to speak up and were bullied and intimidated.”
  • Integrity. “What creates trust? It’s when the values on the wall are reflected in the day to day behaviours.”




Matt Batten, organisational development adviser at Royal College of Nursing, is talking about wellbeing and how it has helped RCN grow from an organisation that was struggling to one that now has high membership figures.

Matt gets everyone up on their feet to ask their neighbour about what matters to them at work.


So what does matter to people? The feedback is in:

  • People
  • Working with a brand you feel aligned with
  • Making a difference
  • Empowerment
  • Respect
  • Being appreciated
  • Being surrounded by passionate people.



Matt talks about some of the feedback the Royal College of Nursing got from employees that led to the launch of RCN’s Health for Happiness programme.

“We discovered morale was low. There was a strong grievance culture. We were not very collaborative. Membership figures were stagnating, and we did not recognise people as being integral to the org. We were not in an amazing place and we needed to change.

“We introduced a health and wellbeing programme. Yes, it is about business success. Employee engagement does link back to performance. But if we think about what RCN stands for, we’re in the business of championing wellbeing, healthcare and patient care. Our people lobby governments for healthcare provision. If we are not looking after our people, how can we expect them to go out and advocate on our behalf?

“Wellbeing can feel gimmicky – so it has to relate back to your values and mission and what drives your business.”


"Wellbeing advocates in RCN write blogs, they write stories, they know people who have had a hard time… We'd be lost without them." – Matt Batten


The Virgin Pulse Global Challenge is one of the biggest events at RCN. "Around 40 per cent of employees involved," says Matt, "including our executive team – and that’s probably why it’s been so successful.

“It’s the most competitive couple of months at RCN. Everyone is wearing pedometers trying to get 10,000 steps a day. It’s the best time to book a meeting room as everyone is outside at walking meetings. I turned into a WWF person, trash-talking people for not moving because we weren’t at the top of the leaderboard.

“Find the thing that hooks your wellbeing programme.”


“We’ve had pet therapy, and people brought their dogs in. Nothing got done for an hour, but it was great.” – Matt Batten, RCN.


The Royal College of Nursing has introduced suicide awareness training. “Our employees often talk to people who have had a horrendous time at work – a patient may have died, or they’ve done a long shift and discover they are facing redundancy," says Matt Batten. "People phone us up in dire straits, so we have to be aware of the impact that has on our people.

“We also have resilience training to help people bounce back from those difficult times.”


Focus on the basics. RCN research revealed data from wellbeing was dropping and there were simple things not being offered or promoted enough, such as flexible working.

“Absolutely go for flexible working,” says Matt Batten. “It’s made a big difference to our wellbeing stats. A manager would have to have a very strong reason to say no to flexible working. It makes our lives easier if we can be in control of the hours we work.”


Matt Batten summarises the five learnings from RCN's wellbeing strategy. "Make it personal. Factsheets don't improve wellbeing. People do."



We've split up. Two breakout sessions are taking place – in one room, Marcos Eleftheriou, head of culture and internal comms from Ennismore, and Jon Cox, head of partnerships at The Bot Platform are talking about who is using bots and how we can make them more productive. In another roo, Colin Archer, head of internal communciations at Imperial Brands, talks about how his small team has transformed internal comms for 30,000 global employees.



Colin Archer joined Imperial Brands in 2014 and was told they had no formal internal communication.

“I thought, you’re in the top 30 FTSE company, you must have internal comms. I turned up and said show me what you’ve got and they said they send the annual results out quarterly by email and they had an intranet, but they said ‘Some people put stuff on it, but we don’t know how.’ It was a blank canvas.”


Colin started planning the new IC strategy by talking to the business leaders about animals – specifically dogs and miles.

"You can have lots of ideas and bound around like a Labrador with lots of enthusiasm, but no focus. And our leaders recognised people in the organisation like that. Your Labradors need training, and that’s where IC can help.

"And I talked about mules. The people who are really clear what the organisation is about but think ‘I’m done, I’m not going to help, I don’t want to help.’


This, says Colin Archer, is the most important slide for internal communciation at Imperial Brands.


Internal communicators have to be close to the business, insists Colin. “Understand how it works, be close to the moment when it’s going off the rails, so you can talk to leaders authoritatively about the problems they face and help them find solutions.”



Jon Cox in the breakout room is explaining automation of content, and how this improves the experience for employees. There have been cat gifs and everything. Who doesn't love a cat gif?


Nailed it!



Bot lessons from Jon Cox: “If you make it easy for staff to use the bot, they will interact and engage.”


The bot experts are asked their recommendations for helping employees discover the bot – either on the platform or sharing the urls.

“It’s a bit of pushing,” says Marcos, “but also discovering. When we start a bot, we always say it’s not bot first. You are launching a perk or a benefit, and the bot is helping facilitate what employees need to do.”

Jon adds: “In my experience, broadcasting is the best way. Make an announcement. You get huge read rates on those types of things. It’s not an email or a post.”


Coffee break over. And we're starting an interactive session on why internal comms won't exist in 20 years time and what we'll all be doing instead. Jon Simons, Laura Low and Ben Keohane are on stage.


Is this the future?


After a reflection on how IC got to where it is in 2019, Laura considers what hasn’t changed. If you’ve been in your role for a long time, you’re probably being asked to be an expert in more things than ever, and different things each year, but what is the glue that sticks us together?

The team captured some thoughts from IC professsionals and share a video with delegates. Comments include:

  • We get more insight than everyone else. We’re nosey.
  • We help decide what’s important for our colleagues to hear about and the channels use
  • The perspective we have. We hear the strategic stuff, but we’re also joined to the front line
  • We can push people to do things outside of their comfort zone
  • The influence we have as trusted advisers


A Slido poll of delegates revealed some interesting thoughts on what makes IC unique.


Laura Low: "We're the empathy team, the listening team. People tell us things. If we stick to what we do, we can make amazing things happen."


Jon Simons: “If you’re just publishing what leaders want to say, chances are it’s not what employees want to hear. We should be advising leaders and equipping them with knowledge.”



The provocative messages in the current session are having quite an impact...


Is it still important for IC practitioners to be writers? Laura says that in the future, we will be creating an ecosystem or environment where everyone can communicate.

“If we’re really the listening function, we should know already what people want to hear and seek out the people who have answers and connecting those people.

Dr Brene Brown said leadership is “excavating the unsaid”. Laura says Ic should be doing that too – “thinking about what no one else is saying, but what’s really important. If we do that, we don’t need to be writers any more. If you want to write, do it because you love it, but not because a leader asks you to.”


A question from the audience: "Some of the feedback from our employees is that they  don’t want to find out things about the business at the same time as the rest of the world. They want to be equipped with the information early to be able to talk to friends and families. How do you balance that with having one source of the truth?"

Laura Low says internal comms should take the lead where appropriate. “Often we let external people write the press release and IC tinkers with it. IC should take the lead and the external guys should then lift and drop. Sometimes it’s a case of getting together in a room and saying this is a sensitive announcement, so we’ll share at the same time with everyone on multiple channels, or we have another bit of information with a longer lead time and we can share that internally first. Obviously, it won’t work for everything, but if we are in a room together and collaborating closely with public policy and media teams, you can suss things out.”



Can digital replace face to face? Should we live stream board meetings? Questions, questions...



What will our profession be called in the future? Delegates have shared their ideas:

  • THE Communications team
  • Storytellers and Inclusion
  • Employee Experience
  • Emotion Puppets
  • Culture
  • Voice Facilitators
  • Communicators in Business
  • HR
  • The Feel Connected Team
  • Human Connector
  • Boredom curators
  • Community Enablement
  • Advocacy Champions
  • Human Cobots


Sarah Critchley, communications and engagement senior manager for EY UK&I, starts the afternoon session on the subject of creating a pioneering spirit. "You've got to be bold and brave and do things differently to capture hearts and minds, because there is a lot to cut through."


Sarah shares her tried and tested formula for being bold: FUN.

F – Face the fear and formulate a bold plan
U – Unite your people
N – Now watch what happens (you'll be pleasantly surprised).


Sarah Critchley talks about EY’s 4Sight competition to fight the fear of the 4th industrial revolution. She had to convince stakeholders to think outside the box.

“I said, rather than tell people not to worry about the 4th industrial revolution, let’s bring them into the process and get them to tell us about their own innovations and what they are doing under the digital transformation agenda.

“We set people a challenge to come up with an innovation that makes people feel good and demonstrates that innovation is a natural progression.”

Then Sarah decided to go a step further. “I suggested we fund the winning innovation and take it to market. Stakeholders thought that was brilliant.

“Then I said, if we’re thinking big, let’s have a Dragons’ Den-style final where the finalists pitch their ideas.

“And then I said, why don’t we have a live broadcast with clips and narrative?

“And then I thought, ‘Oh what have I just said.’


What could have gone wrong? Sarah considers. “We could have had no entries at all, or entries that weren’t worth much, or we could have got to the den and the Dragons’ acting could be disastrous, or the IT could fail – actually that did happen. I needn’t have worried. We got 100 entries. Many of those were team entries. So by the end of it, we had hundreds of people invested in it.”


“It wasn’t perfect and a few things went wrong,” admits Sarah – but 90% of employees wanted the 4Sight competition to become an annual event, and 90% said they felt the Assurance division was embracing innovation and the 4th industrial revolution.



EY continues to engage people with different comms approaches. Another competition was set to create a tagline for the CBS division’s new mission statement. 300 entries – many team entries – came through, including the winning entry: Creating Business Success. And then EY launched a buzzword bingo game to launch a language for CBS.



"None of this has to be big budget," says Sarah. "Yes, we had a film crew for the Dragons' Den event, but a smartphone enables good quality film."



When asked how lone itnernal communicators can make bold and brave projects happen, Sarah replies: "It's up to you as the person who came up with the idea to keep energy up and keep chipping away. If you're not getting the sentiment you want, try something else. Your motivation is to do something really great for really great people."




Grant Springford, content and campaigns manager for Department for Transport, talks about DfT's Be Yourself campaign, to encourage everyone to feel safe and secure about bringing their whole selves to work.

"A big element was about sharing stories. We wanted to make people feel welcome. We needed our managers to be on site – to be advocates and lead the message. We needed everyone at every grade, whatever their background, to feel included.

"It was important fo us to send out a message that we were trying to represent the public we serve."


"It wasn't just about sending out corporate messages that we take D&I seriously. It was about involving our people, making them feel part of the campaign. It's about basing the whole campaign on trust. We had to really get under the skin of those communities." – Grant Springford on the DfT's Be Yourself campaign.


“It wasn’t just about me speaking to networks, but sitting down and finding out who was in those communities and how we could bring the stories to life," says Grant Springford.

“It was about expressing personalities. At the launch, we encouraged people to dress up in an item of clothing – as elaborate as they liked – and we took photos and asked them to tell us what they were wearing and to write a word or a sentence that told the organisation a little about themselves.

“There was risk involved. I’ve worked in other government departments and I know this wouldn’t have worked.”


Grant shares a story of an employee who told a story of his struggles with mental health and previous suicide attempts, but how a good manager was helping him turn things around – and this encouraged other people to come forward and share they'd had similar feelings.



“We wanted to get across the message that you can have wellbeing issues and still be really good at your job," says DfT's Grant Springford.

In our other afternoon session, B&Q's Martin Fitzpatrick is talking about creating a truly cross-generational workplace.




Martin Fitzpatrick shows us films produced by B&Q employees about new products and says that a lot of those employees doing it are older employees – and it's an approach that the comms team is encouraging. "We have thousands of new products – the comms team doesn't have time to produce films for all of those. It's an opportunity for us to be curators not creators."


Martin Fitzpatrick: "More and more people are stretching retirement into their 70s. Have a conversation about how you can extend people's work for you."


"Make sure your comms are accessible to, and work for, everyone. Reduce your bias in comms. A lot of us jump to segmentation and personalisation, but the basics are often not quite right." – Martin Fitzpatrick, B&Q


Martin Fitzpatrick summarises his presentation on the value of over-50s to the economy and business:

  • They are tired of being ignored
  • Working with over-50s and older workers will unlock benefits to everyone across the workplace
  • Listen and give them a voice. They’ll drive change
  • Mentoring brings out the best across generations



In our last session of the day, Dr Nicola Millard, head of customer insight and futures in BT's innovation team, reflects on how digital technologies are untethering us from our desks. "We are becoming 'shoulder bag workers'," she says. "Technology has become so small, we can carry our offices in a shoulder bag.


Nicola Millard: “If you want to be an innovative organisation – and most need to be innovative to survive – it’s a challenge, because you need diversity for innovation. If you have an employee base that look and sound the same with roughly the same cultural backgrounds and you’re the same age, you’re not going to get innovation. Innovation is often bred from disagreement, different outlooks, different personalities.”


"Intraverts think, extraverts think out loud. The loudest voice is not always the one we should be listening to."


"Why do I have to be in an office to work?" asks Nicola Millard. "I can work absolutely anywhere. Offices are really important for collaboration. They’re where we go to gossip about work. We are social creatures. But the priorities have changed. I don’t need a desk or car parking. The number one priority is wifi."



"I have been to the Google office with a slide, and I did ask them why they have a slide. The answer was around productivity, as it's quicker to get from one floor to another. I assume that's only on the way down." – Nicola Millard


The average Google employee is 27 – and there's one thing many 27-year-olds don't have that mean home-working isn't suitable: a home – or at least an appropriate home environment to work in. Should we have working environments for millennials? No, says Nicola Millard, as businesses have five generations to cater for.


Nicola advocates the "coffice" – coffee shops – for working, but says "hopdesking" is emerging. Is a pub environment conducive to working?

"I like a buzz around me – company. And it doesn't necesarily people I need to know – and who are likely to interrupt me," says Nicola. "That's why I like coffee shops. Again: diversity. We all want different things."


How can technology support employees working across distance? Video, suggests Nicola, but there are challenges here.

“Introverts hate video,” she says. “Having a camera stuck up your nose is not great.

“Also, pyjamas are a problem. If you work from home, you’ll need to dress – at least from the waist up.”


Human beings are quite good at messy and complex stuff, says Nicola Millard. “It makes it hard for us, which means we’ll get tired, which is where a four-day week might come in. And it ties back to our productivity measures. You can measure what machines do, but how do you measure things like conversation, empathy, caring – the hard stuff?”



The end is nigh. IoIC chief executive Jennifer Sproul wraps up a successful IoIC Live 2019, and shares her key takeaways:

  • We need to bring bots into our lives
  • EPS and NPS drive profit and pride
  • People power rather than powerful people
  • IC is there to unlock employee voice. It's about listening and giving back
  • The importance of ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ and ‘how are you?’ in driving good places to work
  • Labradors and mules – how can we build those into IC strategies?
  • The need to understand our businesses – one size doesn’t fit all
  • We need to be bold and brave
  • The power of storytelling and the voice of our people – and how we can coach people to be authentic, feel included, tell stories. It makes a powerful difference.

"IC is in a moment and we have an opportunity to make a real difference in the future of working lives."


  • 21st June 2022
    Our latest IoIC Fellow Joanna Parsons, head of internal communications & culture with teamwork, discusses overcoming a case of imposter syndrome, being a “silo surfer” and the impact...
  • 14th June 2022
    After over 20 years of working in internal comms, Jo Bland, head of strategic engagement and internal communications at NHS Digital, has received a Fellowship in the profession. She tells us why...
  • 9th June 2022
      IoIC has produced new guidance on ethical communication as part of a renewed focus on raising standards in the internal communication profession. IoIC has published a guide for members on...
Resources & Guides

Latest Jobs

Our Sponsors

Room Booking

Thanks for staying with us! Please fill out the form below and our staff will be in contact with your shortly. The see all of our room options please visit the link below.
See All Rooms