What we learned about employee engagement and corporate communication – Part 1

What we learned about employee engagement and corporate communication – Part 1

author: Denisa Madalina Birau
editor: Sarah Emmerson

“People don’t know what to expect if you don’t do it constantly and so they don’t buy into it, do they?” – Kate Wood

Back in April NorthWestify Podcast had Kate Wood from Pockets Consultancy as a guest and one of the key themes they talked about was employee engagement and corporate communication. Then they invited Victoria Bond from SpaceHR and, no surprises, the employee engagement subject came up again. Even with guests who were not working in an HR or engagement role, they found this topic kept cropping up again and again. So we took the inspiration and decided to take a closer look at some of the key insights in this 2-part blog series.

In this first one, we’re going to highlight the key things we took from Kate Wood’s experience. As you can read on her website, she worked as Culture Director for Chess, where she took the company from 63rd to 1st in the Sunday Times Top 100 Companies to Work for in the UK and retained their place in that list for 10 years. Then she decided to launch Pockets Consultancy where she offers Culture as a Service. The conclusion? She’s an expert in her field and we have a lot to learn from her.

1. Communication

From an organisation perspective, this should be your starting point and first focus, and it should be something you improve constantly. How you communicate is key to a company’s growth. Chess’s success story is proof of this:

“How did you get the company from 63 to 1st?”

  • “So what we did, we were absolutely rigorous in our communication.”
  • “Chess had a blueprint that documented their vision and values, so no matter who you were in that business, whatever job you were doing, you knew what the vision of the organisation And you knew that with everything you were doing in your role, how that would complement the company in achieving it… You shouldn’t have been doing anything in that business if it’s not going to help you achieve that vision.”
  • “We had a team of cultural ambassadors… and we did the same things, every week – cultural communication, every new starter that started in an induction, there was a leadership academy in empowering women, everybody had a monthly one to one… If you want consistency, and if you want change, it has to be rigorous.”
  • “Every business that I work with, the key problem, in some way or another, is getting that communication right.”

2. Giving and taking feedback

Taking and giving feedback is very important also. You always must remember that you did not start a company for yourself. You did not launch a product just for yourself. You did it so your clients, your audience could benefit from it. So, you should keep listening to them while you keep growing.

“If you’re an organization that wants to grow, that wants to change, you have to be prepared to take feedback. So, my first point for any business is if you want to evolve, either product-wise or culture-wise you need to get feedback from your people and from your customers.”

3. Actioning the feedback you get

After getting feedback there’s another step you can’t ignore – actioning it. This step is just as important, or even more so. This will make sure your employees and clients feel valued, feel like they have a voice, feel like they matter, feel like they are really part of the company.

Kate was asked what problems companies she helps see and if it varies much from small to large organisations.

“It does vary, but there is such a thread that runs through it all which is communication.”

“So if you go from a larger business it could be that the people don’t understand the vision and values, they are not getting communicated to by the leadership team, the people don’t feel they have a voice. Hence why I might help them with their cultural ambassador team, I’ll help them run that to get that voice out of the people back up to the leadership team.”

“One company that I work with have done a lot of acquisitions so I’ve been helping them with the acquisition integration. And they were like ‘We don’t think we will have any bad feedback in the quarterly survey, we’re convinced that people are really happy.’ And on the whole, people were really happy, but then you always get comments about feeling that their wellbeing was not thought of enough. So then what I can do is say ‘All right, so let’s just introduce these quick things, nothing needs to be big or expensive, it’s the small things that make a difference.’ So, the next week all we did was we sent out little wellbeing packages in the post to everybody, we started running wellbeing Wednesdays, we started making sure that we were really listening to people, understanding the challenges they were facing working from home, and then it really turned things around – just an example of how getting feedback and actioning it really quickly can make a big difference.” 

4. Consistency

No matter what it is, if it’s one-to-ones, corporate events, team events, incentives, monthly meetings, you must keep doing them until it becomes a habit. These communication processes will only become a part of how your company functions if they are implemented consistently.

If you have this nailed on you can avoid one of the biggest problems most companies have. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep adapting processes to make them better: your company will change, will evolve, your employees will grow, your teams will grow, so it’s only natural for the processes to change and evolve also. But the consistency remains key to success, whatever the style and frequency of communication you are following.

“If it’s a written communication I always say do it at the same time on the same day every week and try and mix that up as often as you can by doing some videos as well, because not everybody likes reading long emails. Keep things short, snappy, and to the point. And ask for feedback on your communications – it’s about always looking at it, reviewing it, and changing it, but it has to be done consistently.”


To listen to the full episode, visit us at Apple Podcasts (https://apple.co/3vnidus) or on Spotify  (https://spoti.fi/3aLW3dA).

We’ll be back soon with part 2, which will be about what we learned and the key things we took from the episode with Victoria Bond from SpaceHR.

To make sure you don’t miss any updates, follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram.