AB Thinks  →  17th December 2021

The 12 tips of Comms-mas

The holiday season is once again upon us (it seems the years are going by faster than ever?) and after what’s been another huge year for comms, many of us are beginning to wind down for a break, making time to celebrate with loved ones. (Hopefully) armed with a cup of mulled wine by the fire, now is the chance for us IC professionals to reflect on some of the lessons we’ve learnt this year – and to ask ourselves a few questions about what’s next.

Here’s our 12 tips of Comms-mas, a round-up on learnings from 2021 and our top tips for January and beyond.

The learnings

#1 You can’t push yourself to output 100%, 100% of the time.
20% of the activities we undertake result in 80% of our results or outcomes – meaning most of our daily activities will not have a lasting impact. We learned from our session with Brain Coach Phil Dobson to tackle the most valuable tasks first thing or block out time in your diary to dedicate to your biggest goals. Set yourself deadlines to achieve personal goals as well, like learning a new skill.

#2 We don’t always need a shiny, new way of doing things.
Comms expert Jane Mitchell shared this nugget of wisdom on The Internal Comms Podcast all about honing a healthy work culture. Businesses often want to be seen as cutting edge, introducing new communications technologies periodically. But, as communicators, when considering introducing something new, the most important question we should be asking is “why?”

#3 The “new normal” has impacted everyone – we must practise kindness with colleagues.
The world is always changing around us – now more than ever – and in such an uncertain environment, colleagues are experiencing burn-out, anxiety and loneliness. Many organisations have worked hard to build kindness and empathy into their communications throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – make sure you continue to build this empathy into every interaction in the coming year.

#4 It’s time for businesses to stand for something.
Employees are looking for work with meaning. What you stand for matters more to this generation of workers than what you can offer financially. Indeed, a 2018 report found nine out of ten workers in the United States were willing to give up an average of 23 per cent of their lifetime earnings in exchange for always having a meaningful job. Check out the origin story of employee engagement with Dr William Kahn.

#5 Community can – and should – be created online.
In August of this year, I joined AB from my dining room table. I’m not alone in this experience – a legion of workers have undergone virtual onboarding over the past two years. Internal comms has become largely digital, and it’s a powerful tool for fostering community among colleagues who may not have met IRL. Take advantage of tech and make time for coming together – you’ll reap the rewards in productivity and employee satisfaction.

The tips

#6 Set time aside to reach Inbox Zero.
Our first tip for the holidays? Leave with a clean slate. That doesn’t mean you’ve wrapped up all your projects and finished absolutely everything – but it can be useful to set time aside on your last afternoon to trawl through any unread emails and find that elusive state of Inbox Zero. If you close your laptop with a clean slate, you’ll feel much more relaxed heading into the break.

#7 Take a break. Not a kind-of-but-still-checking-emails break. A real break.
The virtual office can trick us into being always-on. Emails are at our fingertips all day, every day. This makes taking a proper break really difficult. Even on annual leave, many of us can’t resist checking up on what we might be missing. This can lead to burn-out. If you can, make a conscious effort to really disconnect with work over the holidays. Tackle 2022 with a fresh mindset.

#8 Set yourself up for a flying start in January.
“After a week of relaxing, eating and drinking, it’s difficult to remember what on earth was on your work plate before you logged off for the holidays,” reminds Meg Lewis, one of our queens of all things content at AB. Before you log off for the December break, write a to-do list, including a round-up of where any projects are up to, or what needs to be prioritised, when you get back to it in January.

#9 Rethink storytelling as we enter the new year.
Back in February storytelling specialist Gabrielle Dolan appeared on The Internal Comms Podcast to discuss the importance of engaging with hearts and minds through storytelling. In 2022, be inspiring in your storytelling: challenge jargon and tap into people’s emotions. Use real stories from real people to create authentic messaging that really resonates.

#10 Wellness comes first. Don’t leave emotions at the door.
Any business hoping to nurture a healthy, happy workforce should encourage colleagues to be open and honest when they’re struggling. If you’re experiencing burn-out, or having a difficult time in your personal life, don’t be afraid to communicate with a manager of mental health first aider and give yourself a break.

#11 Prioritise a close look at your culture.
Finally, a word from our managing director Katie Macaulay on why we need to carefully consider our workplace culture when planning our comms in the new year. “Culture is not a poster on a wall. It is not a set of values in a handbook. It is how we behave when no one is looking,” she says. At AB, we work side-by-side with our clients to reframe thinking around culture – it’s no tick-box exercise; it must run deep for colleagues from all corners of the business. If you want to find out more on how we can help with your 2022 plans, drop us a note.

#12 Pour yourself a(nother) tipple, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and switch your attentions to celebrating and relaxing with friends and family.
However you’re celebrating, here’s to a successful, happy, and healthy 2022. Enjoy the festivities!

Want to get your internal comms in shape in 2022? Take the first step, and get an expert assessment, by completing our IC Health Check.