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Fun is underrated

As it becomes increasingly strategic, Internal Communications is also at risk of becoming overwhelmingly serious.

By Thomas McCaldon | Associate Director | Corporate Communications

As Internal Communications has risen up the strategic agenda, much has been said of its potential to deliver meaningful business impact.

And it’s true – Communications is a business discipline and should, therefore, support meaningful business goals. Whether your organisation is navigating transformation or it's business-as-usual, Internal Communications plays a hugely important role in engaging employees and unlocking the numerous, well-documented benefits that brings.

However, as it becomes increasingly strategic, Internal Communications is also at risk of becoming overwhelmingly serious. Often, organisations focus on helping their employees feel that what they do ladders up to something big and important. They want us to identify with the organisation’s purpose, to be excited by the CEO’s vision, to understand our role in delivering the strategy, and to buy in to the next big change.

Unquestionably, these are important drivers of an engaged workforce. But they are also somewhat abstract and lofty in nature and, too often, organisations are guilty of communicating these things in a way that leaves employees feeling like it is all happening to them, rather than with them.

There is another, equally important side to the engagement picture. This side is not overwhelmingly top-down, nor carefully controlled – it’s the things that make you simply enjoy the experience of being at work. It might be the strategic update video from your function lead which included her bloopers at the end, the time a start-up came in to show (not tell) your team how they truly lived ‘agile’, or the escape room event that helped you get to grips with a new technology system.

Whatever your organisation does, your people are just that – people, not resources. And, at the end of the day, people like a bit of fun in their life – even, or especially, at work. Indeed, there is plenty of research demonstrating that fun is an effective way of ‘nudging’ people and that happy employees are ultimately healthier, more collaborative, more creative, and more productive.

So, when we talk about employee engagement in 2019, let’s not forget that the dictionary definition of “engage” is to attract someone’s interest or attention. What better way to do so than by injecting a little fun into the employee experience?