Author Archives: Neil Jenkins

Employee advocacy – 3 things to think about

I’ve spent the last two days at Quadriga’s Internal Communication conference in Berlin. Leading internal communications in a corporate team covering several European markets, it’s important to look beyond British borders at the good work being done elsewhere in Europe.

The conference theme was ‘Matching Employee Activism and Internal Digitalisation’ – or to put it more simply, how digital helps your people do things better. The conference programme gives you a flavour of what was covered.

I’m a long-standing fan of using digital to help employees respond and interact with their organisation’s leaders, news and information and each other – generally to help them work easier, faster and smarter. It was especially refreshing to see some clever and creative ways that companies are using digital to reach and engage remote workforces to improve customer service, reduce costs or foster a sense of belonging.

Employee advocacy

What became apparent is the idea of employee advocacy – using the power of your people to promote your organisation, usually via social media – is becoming more mainstream. Organisations are recognising that what employees say or share about who they work for is generally trusted more than the CEO or other execs, and are tapping into that to improve their corporate reputation.

It all sounds great, doesn’t it? An army of advocates happily liking, faving, re-tweeting and blogging on your behalf – saving you thousands in paid media and giving your trust and reputation scores a loving lift in the process.

But before anyone gets started in earnest, I think there are three things organisations need to consider:

Do your employees want to do this for you? Engaged employees are a prerequisite or you may end up the opposite effect. Tap into projects where people are more likely to support your approach. Starting small is a good way to build confidence in what’s still a relatively new concept.

Your content should sparkle. Are employees really going to want to share something that’s poorly written, designed or produced? Work closely with teams and functions who have an interest in seeing you succeed, like external comms and marketing, set your standards high and think like a consumer in the outside world –because ultimately, that’s what your employees are and who you’re trying to reach via them. It’s still vital to know your audience and understand what’s relevant to them.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. Arm yourself with data that demonstrates the reach and impact of what employees are sharing for you. Is it supporting the goals you’ve set out to achieve? Check frequently, adjust or even abandon if it’s not working as you intended.

Are you developing an employee advocacy programme in your organisation? What tips and tricks would you add? Let me know what you think.


Corporate jargon – brave enough to ban it?

It seems reactions to corporate jargon are rising.

Forbes lists 25 ridiculous phrases to stop saying at work, there’s a Wimbledon-style draw to vote for the worst jargon of all time and a helpful flow diagram is doing the rounds to check whether you’re a member of the Four Tops if you ‘reach out’ at work.

Is revolution in the air? Have communicators finally had enough, or is this just silly season stuff that sinks at the start of September?

I’ve blogged before about the courage communicators need to confront jargon. It can be tough to convince colleagues that simpler really is better and we can all be guilty of slip-ups. Also, every organisation and industry has abbreviations and acronyms that are unavoidable to include in our communications.

What’s encouraging, though, is how some organisations have taken steps to ban jargon outright. The best I’ve seen by far is by the Government Digital Service in the UK, which has an excellent writing and style guide for civil servants and a list of words to avoid. Here’s an example of one:

Deliver (pizzas, post and services are delivered – not abstract concepts like ‘improvements’ or ‘priorities’)

It seems to me that a formal style guide like this gives direction to communication teams and power to their elbow when they’re up against someone who’s brimming with buzzwords.

Does your organisation have a style guide with an emphasis on plain language – and has it helped stem the flow of ‘synergies’, ‘leverage’ and ‘sweat equity’? (That last one is my personal ‘favourite’ right now.) I’m interested to hear from anyone who’s been brave enough to introduce one and see the benefits.

Je Suis Charlie

Freedom of expression is a value I cherish. I work in communications because I believe people have a voice that should be heard.

For me as an internal communications leader, that means helping conversations happen between employees at all levels, so they understand each other’s perspectives – mainly on business priorities, but also as individuals who have thoughts, ideas and aspirations, even at times when not everyone sees eye to eye.

Today’s horrific scenes at the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris only strengthen these beliefs. Voltaire, a Frenchman, is commonly believed to have said: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

It’s a sentiment that resonates today more than ever.