AB Thinks  →  3rd May 2022

Embracing the messiness of being human

AB Thinks

In episode 61 of The Internal Comms Podcast, host Katie Macauley speaks to Victoria Dew, a leading voice on the future of work. Victoria is the founder and CEO of Dewpoint Communications, a firm that is focused on helping people-powered companies communicate with their employees better every day.

Drawing on her more than 15 years’ experience in employee communications and engagement, Victoria makes a powerful argument for the business imperative of ensuring people feel seen, heard and can thrive at work.

In this thought-provoking episode, Victoria argues we all have a mandate to explore the collision of work and home lives in the post-pandemic future and says human-centric businesses are the ones that will thrive. While some companies prioritise their relationship with customers at the expense of their employees, nurturing and protecting your relationship with those employees is just as essential.

Here are Victoria’s projections for the future of work and her advice for succeeding in that future:

#1 Human-centric businesses do better
Creating a workplace where people can be their authentic selves brings out the best in people, and that is better for business than a company full of people “trying to behave themselves and look good all the time”, as Victoria puts it.

If businesses cannot accept the messiness of employing real people, they’re not going to succeed in the future – a future which will be defined not by jobs where people act as cogs in a machine, but where work is increasingly creative, analytical, about connecting the dots, making sense of the world and enabling technology. Creating a human-centric workplace where those people can thrive, Victoria says, is mandatory.

#2 Your relationship with employees is more important than your customer relationship
Victoria argues that building relationships with employees is more complicated and important than your organisation’s relationship with customers. She says this is not a relationship that we can treat casually, and it requires the same level of care and attention given to external communication.

She advocates using a customer experience approach with internal comms, arguing that the better we understand employee personas, the better we can deliver what they need to perform well, stay with the company, and advocate for our organisations. Finally, our employees don’t owe us their attention and engagement just because they get paid to work with us. Their attention, like the customers’, has to be earned, so create content that invites it.

#3 Use analogue listening
While companies often say they are listening to their employees, real, two-way, balanced communication is rare. Victoria advocates for communicating with employees, not to them. Employee roundtables, for example, enable your colleagues to not just voice their concerns but be involved in finding solutions.

Once you have heard their concerns and found those solutions, follow through, and make sure you draw your colleagues’ attention to the different changes that have been made so that they can see that you really are listening and acting on their concerns.

#4 There’s a business case for doing less
Burn-out seems to be increasingly common as the pandemic has, in some cases, added pressure to our colleagues’ workloads. That’s bad for business. Victoria calls for us to prioritise the tasks that are urgent and have the biggest ROI, and let your team and employees know which tasks can be put to one side and seen as ‘next’ or ‘nice to do’.

This can also require pushing back at leaders who come to us with 15 important tasks and encouraging them to distil these into manageable and achievable goals. If we don’t let each other do less, we won’t have people to do the work – they’ll be too burnt out from trying to do everything, or they will simply leave.

#5 This is not a time for half-measures
Victoria believes that we have the opportunity to create a better future of work post-pandemic. But there is a tendency to go back to the way things were because it’s what we know. That, Victoria says, is not going to work, because we are not the same. She believes we have a chance to reimagine, reset, reinvent and make a leap forward in the future of work.

The role of an IC professional is to create a context, to make this new world real and connect with people so they can thrive in it. We must create meaning and help make the workplace a safe and conducive environment for people to be productive.

Keep thinking big and looking for ways to make radical shifts forward in your organisation, Victoria says, because world-class internal comms is a vital contributor to creating a brilliant world of work in which our colleagues can thrive, and businesses can be a force for good.