Listen to this episode to learn:

  • Why streamlining corporate communication is so critical today
  • How to help internal communicators elevate their career
  • Why internal communication is a significant driver of efficiency and engagement in the workplace
  • How remote work is changing the workplace
  • Ways to leverage data to gain trust and credibility 
  • And much more! 




About the Speakers

ICON Ep 5-Headshot


Julie Ford
Jenni Field
Founder and Director, Business Communications Strategist 
Redefining Communications 
Julie Ford
Head of Content
Sparrow Connected
" Communication isn't a broadcast tool anymore. In organizations, it's much more than that. And therefore, as a communication function, we have to define the purpose of our function and make sure that we're doing what we need to do for that business impact to happen."    

Julie chats with Jenni, an internal communications leader, about her experience and perspectives on everything from what employee engagement is, to keeping internal communications simple, creativity, and the essential skills that helped her reach a leadership level in her career.  



Julie Ford 0:01 

Welcome to the IC connected or icon podcast. This podcast will challenge conventional thinking about internal communications. It will force you to think differently. Consider bold ideas and step outside your comfort zone through real unscripted insights from some of the best internal comms pros and subject matter experts in the world. But most importantly, this podcast will help you elevate your career, and together will elevate the internal comms profession to the C suite. Hey, everyone, today I'm honored to be joined by Jenny field. Jenny is an international speaker, author, podcaster, and business communication strategist. She founded her company redefining communications in 2017. To help organizations be less chaotic by improving communication internally. The experience Jenny has gained during her 20 year career in defense, retail hospitality, and non for profit has contributed to the development of the field model and her book influential internal communication, which she published in April 2021. Thanks for joining me today, 

Jenni Field 1:01 

Thank you for having me. 

Julie Ford 1:03 


Julie Ford 1:03 

 I've got quite an extensive list of questions to ask you during our time together, I thought it would be good for you to just give us a quick overview of your career journey. Where did you start? And where are you today? 

 Jenni Field 1:16 

 Well, I'll try and be as quick as I can. So I started my career, having completed a degree in marketing. And then I went and worked in local government as a Communications Assistant, which I loved because it was quite broad. And I was doing internal communications, media relations, elections, all those things. And I loved the press office side of that. So after being there for a couple of years, decided to go and really specialize in media relations. And I moved into the corporate function. So I went to work for a large defense company, focusing on media relations for them, which was, again, excellent exposure and understanding. But after doing that, for a couple of years, decided that it was quite formulaic, and I didn't really feel like I was making a huge difference to people, it just felt a little bit cold, I suppose. And so that's when I started to look at internal communication, having sort of kicked off my career in a sort of generic space. So then I set up my first function in internal communication in the advertising space, did that then went to work for an agency that was an internal communications agency, and I was their marketing and business development manager. So using some of my degree skills, but in a very specialist space, which was excellent. And then having been agency side for a couple of years, missed the buzz of in house. So came back into an organization where I was internal communications manager in the retail hospitality space. And that's where I really sort of cut my teeth on communicating with deskless workers, navigating, you know, politics internally, and, and all those sorts of things. And I was there for about six, seven years. And I left there as the Global Head of Communications. And and then I was headhunted to go and be communications director for a pharmaceutical company. So I've always gone a bit sideways and up along the way. But I've had quite a full communication career in terms of the whole breadth of communication, which has been very helpful, 

Julie Ford 3:10  

interesting that you started in marketing. And then you landed in communications. I was gonna ask you, what inspired you to pursue, that's a common that's a conversation. It's not uncommon, though, I've talked to a couple other people in the podcast to kind of started in the marketing world. But I was gonna ask you what inspired you to pursue a career in communications, but it sounds like it was a bit of an organic evolution, starting from marketing and then getting into communications. 

Jenni Field 3:40 

Well, it wasn't. So I did my A levels in sort of my college time, I did that in English, communication and business. And I was rubbish. But I'd always wanted to work in PR, it was something that I'd always been quite interested in. But I didn't do very well grade wise, there and therefore didn't get into university, and then tried to get a job in PR, but I couldn't get a job in PR without a degree. So that's how I ended up going to university. And I did a degree in marketing because of the consumer behavior element of it that I found quite interesting, which has played through into my career in communications around understanding people. And then it really it was just getting this very generic job in communications that I started with. That was a little bit of everything that I think massively helped me sort of find my niche and find what I enjoyed, but it was actually the fact that I just I couldn't get a job without a degree. That's where I ended up having to go and do that, unfortunately, but it's, it's, you know, been helpful along the way. 

Julie Ford 4:41 

Interesting. Well, but here you are, with a published book. So I'd say that you've done quite well. So I wanted to ask you, in a way, similar to the question about what inspired you to get into internal communications? What inspired you to write this book in turn? As an influential internal communication, 

Jenni Field 5:02 

so I never planned to write a book, I didn't have this sort of big ambition to publish something. But the book came about for a couple of reasons. I've been quite an avid reader, since well, probably for about the last 10 years or so. And I was getting to the point where I felt that if, if people could read a little bit of this book and a little bit of this book, then we'd really start to change things in internal communication for leaders and for people that work in communication, so that they didn't have to read all of these books that I was reading. But actually, if we could take little bits that would really help. Alongside that came the fields model, which I created to help organizations go from chaos to calm. And putting those two things together is really where the book came from. It was you know, if I can put some of these bits together to help people understand some of the foundations around what it is to be, you know, what it is to be human understanding how organizations work, understanding people better, and then applying that to help people use communication to make your organization more efficient, and more engaging. And then that's kind of how the book came about. But it's definitely the most vulnerable thing I've ever done putting your brain into a book and then publishing it is slightly terrifying. I'm not I'm not gonna. 

Julie Ford 6:17  

I'm currently about halfway through the audio book, and I'm really enjoying it. So I think it's great. And I'm learning a lot in the book and you know, even in the the title of the book communication, streamline your corporate communication to drive efficiency engagement. I wanted to ask you, if you could just define those terms. So what do you mean by efficiency? And what do you mean by engagement? Because I think there are many different definitions of both of those terms. So for those people who haven't yet read the book, if you can just high level give us an overview of what those mean to you, I think that would be really insightful. 

Jenni Field 6:54 

Sure. So I'm very clear from an engagement perspective, that internal communication and employee engagement aren't the same thing. And in the book, I kind of break that down in terms of these are some definitions of employee engagement. These are some definitions of the employee experience. And this is some definitions around internal communication, because they are different. So for me, when it comes to looking at an engaged workforce, or how you can drive engagement, I think you've got to define what you mean by that in your organization. And the reason I've put efficiency and engagement together is because I think communication can do both of those things. So you can use communication to make your organization more efficient. And when I'm talking about that, I'm talking about the flow of information around an organization, how things run how things operate, because communication is so broad. It's not just about a newsletter going out to staff or a digital platform to help people communicate. It's the culture and the rhythm of the organization. It's the meeting structure, it's who's in those meetings, it's what happens after those meetings, it's, it's all of those things coming together that helped make an organization be more efficient, because you're looking at communication as a tool in a tangible representation of culture. So when we're talking about efficiency, I'm talking about things just working very, very well. And that's where that sort of chaos to calm comes from. It's trying to get rid of any sort of chaotic feelings and have this sort of efficient calm. And then the engagement, as I said, you have to define what that means for you. I've got a talk in the book about sort of nonsense measures around engagement. And it's a soapbox that I won't get on today. But what does it really mean to be engaged? What does that mean, in your organization, if I'm if you know, we've got 80% engagement, I'm not really sure what that's telling you. So it's about how we're using behaviors and language and tools and channels, to enable people to feel part of something and feel like they're behind something, and therefore engaged in what that organization is trying to do. But I think you have to really define engagement for your organization, because I think it's different for everyone 

Julie Ford 8:51 

who Yeah, and there are definitely millions of definitions of that out there. One of the many topics that we've explored, exactly. We've explored measuring employee engagement or measuring business impact. And if you had to choose which one you were going to measure, which one would you choose? And of course, you know, as a company that wants to see more communications leaders reaching the sea level, we're leaning towards business impact is the right way to go. Do you have any insights on that? 

Jenni Field 9:27 

Oh, I'm so relieved. You said that because this conversation could have gone a very different way. Definitely, business impact. So I you have to look at how communication is helping you solve a business problem. It's not about using communication, to just try to make everybody feel better about working somewhere. That's not a tangible measure. That's so arbitrary is never going to really be measurable. But if you can say you know, we need to reduce accidents by 60%. We need to communicate ation strategy to help us achieve that. And actually, we need a strategy across the whole organization to achieve that. So if that's the example we'll work with, for a second, we need to make sure that we've got a training program that helps people understand what they need to do, we might need to remodel a factory to make sure that there's no accidents happening, because we've identified the happening in a certain place. And we need to communicate all of this and work with line managers or shift managers or whatever that is. So communication is a fundamental part of that business change. It's not the sole part of that. So I could sit there and say, How many people have read the intranet article about the change in factory layout that's going to help us reduce accidents, or I can just measure whether or not we've hit that 60% measure and work with a team across the organization to help us hit that 60%. That's what I'm looking at. I'm not really looking at who's read in an article, or who's seen a poster or who's ticked a box, say they've attended a workshop, it's got to be a complete effort across the organization. And it's got to have hit the measure that we're trying to hit as an organization. 

Julie Ford 11:03 

Yeah, yeah. So this is bigger than internal communications and internal communications teams can't own this 100% 

Jenni Field 11:10 

that, no, they can't. But it's also trying to lift and elevate internal communications from being maybe the function that was traditionally known for broadcast and doing publications, which it was doing many years ago, to the shift in society that's happened through globalization and other things, that communication isn't isn't a broadcast tool anymore. In organizations, it's much more than that. And therefore, as a communication function, we have to define the purpose of our function and make sure that we're doing what we need to do for that business impact to happen. Now, some people will be listening to this and going, Oh, my God, this is absolutely not what I'm here to do. And I'm only one person in my team, and I can't possibly do that. And that's why defining it is really important. So whenever we work with clients, helping them look at their communication strategy, and how to change things, I'll always start with, what is the purpose of internal communication in your organization? And what is its purpose as a function? And how do you define internal communications more broadly, there are two different things, you have a finance function, but everybody may manage a budget. So you have you know, two different things to think about communications the same. And that's where we have to start from otherwise, you're going to get dragged off into doing things that you're not going to have the business impact that you really want to have. 

Julie Ford 12:27 

Have you seen in organizations where decisions are made, you know, at the strategic level, and then internal communications is informed after the fact. So it's like, hey, internal communications team, we made this decision now go communicate it to the company. Is that something that you're still seeing happening? 

Jenni Field 12:47 

Yes, all the time. Yeah, it happens all the time. And it's, it's one of our biggest frustrations, and I think it continues to come up. Because there's so much education needed around the fact that organizations are people, which is something I say a lot. And leaders often don't think about that we can often get stuck focused on processes. If we're looking to grow an organization, or we're changing, it will often get management consultants in to look at process and efficiencies and those things without thinking about the relationships that need to sit alongside that. And if you ignore that, then things will eventually come unstuck. They might not come unstuck straightaway, you've usually got a couple of years, and then they really start to fall off, but they will eventually become unstuck. So we still see it a lot where it's like we've made this decision to, you know, change this change the structure of the business or, or to introduce a new tool to help people manage their labor in the different units or whatever it might be. We've made this decision, can you communicate it? And then you have to be that really annoying person where you've got, you know, I've got a few questions. Because you you're the one that's asking those questions. That's about you know, how do you want people to think about this? How do you want them to feel what do you want them to do? What's the reality of this? This is the kind of questions they're going to ask, have you thought about this? And that's so hard when you've got to have that courage to stand there and ask these difficult questions that you know, you need to have answered in order to, to communicate this, but it feels uncomfortable, because you're coming into something that's been done, and then people feel like you're challenging them. And it's really, really difficult. And that's, you know, for me, that's why I have the podcast. It's why I've written the book. It's why I talk at events, because the more we can get the word out there that this is what communication can do, the more we should be having those conversations early on. But I'd also sort of counter that a little bit with that comes down to you and your skill as a communicator. If if you're having those conversations, you're demonstrating the right skills, you're asking the right questions, people will start to bring you in earlier. If you're not putting your your sort of feet forward into that space. People aren't going to come and ask you to step into it. Just because they think they should do we have to kind of drive that change forward. 

Julie Ford 14:56 

I was going to say wouldn't it be great if internal communications was involved, you know, when these conversations start? Wouldn't that be ideal? 

Jenni Field 15:04 

Yeah, yeah, and it would. But I think it's so interesting in the work that I've done, where we did some research a few years ago with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, looking at the value and impact of internal communication, and we wanted to research an interview CEOs and also interview internal communicators, and see the gap that was there. And the gap that's there is, is quite big, and it's still quite big. Now this research was done, you know, good sort of sort of, you know, six, seven years ago, I think, if not even further than that. But that gap still exists in terms of my business can function without communication. So it's never going to be so important that I'm going to come knocking on the door, because if I'm selling a product, you know, I need marketing and finance, I need my operations and communication, because sometimes still be seen as a nice to have. And as much as that makes communicators very uncomfortable. We have to understand the business side of things and how things work. So we have to put ourselves in that space to have those conversations to ask the right questions to be knowledgeable about the organization, so that people think about us coming in early. Not just that we're there just to be the postbox and send something out. 

Julie Ford 16:10 

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And I've heard that before. One of the biggest skills that internal communicators should be focused on gaining is business acumen and truly understanding how the business works, because that's when they can be more involved in these conversations. And hopefully get involved in this process earlier. 

Jenni Field 16:30 

Yeah, yeah. 100%. And I end on my Commerce rebels podcast, we did a whole episode where we talked about business acumen and, and why we need it and what the difference is between business knowledge and business acumen, and all those sorts of things. But it comes up as an issue, year on year on year that we just don't have the knowledge of our organization. And I think that's the bit that's fundamental. And that's where I talk about that efficiency and how communication can help make your organization more efficient. That's through an understanding of how the organization works, how the business works. You know, what are the words people use? What do they care about? What are we trying to achieve all of those things that are important? 

Julie Ford 17:07 

So shifting to efficiency a little bit? How do you think technology plays a role in efficiency? 

Jenni Field 17:15 

Oh, well, I think it can probably go either way, if I'm honest. So I think it's the whole technology and efficiency thing is really interesting, and has been made more interesting, I think, from the pandemic. So there's a lot of research that says we're more productive. Now. We're working remotely. And some of that is due to technology. There's equally a lot of research that says we are less productive working remotely. And you can find reports and data to back up both the worry around people saying they're more efficient because of technology and therefore can work remotely is that that's a feeling that we have. So we'll say, you know, yes, I'm much more efficient and productive. Because I've got all the technology and I can work remotely and it's fine. But that's a feeling it's not necessarily a reality. So I think technology has to help solve a business problem. And if you're putting in technology that doesn't help solve a problem, then we have to question why we're doing it. So sometimes we can get a bit caught up in the latest shiniest thing. But what's the problem that that solves? And that's where I always come back to. And if we can't articulate that, then we need to go away and think about, well, maybe the solution isn't technology, maybe it's training, maybe it's behaviors, maybe it's a leadership issue, there's lots of different reasons why things can be happening. So technology can help. But it can only help where there is a problem, that it can help if that makes sense. Because otherwise, we're just going to plug in loads of technology, to without really any kind of this is why this is helpful. And that's why in my own experience, technology platforms don't always land well, if you haven't thought that through. So I remember when we were rolling out a global digital platform in one of my previous roles. And I took over from the global team when I took over the function. And they'd gone out to the team in America and just launched this tool. But they'd launched all the functionality of the tool, it can do this even do this, it's amazing. And you could do this, you can blog and you know, share files. And it's so exciting. And you know, three, four months later, this team are going I don't understand how this is helping us with our actual operational challenges. So that's the bit I want to talk about. So when I went out there and did the workshop, I was like, forget the tool because you hate it because it's been so badly launched. And tell me what it is. Tell me what it is that you're struggling with. And then let's kind of build the tool in terms of kind of how you sort of build the sections or whatever, to help you address some of those challenges. And then we can forget the functionality because that's irrelevant in terms of listing that off. It's about how this helps you do your job better, how you're more efficient, how you're more engaged whenever you're trying to improve and that that's where technology will help. It's not just, you know, let's just plug this in because it's exciting. 

Julie Ford 19:57 

Yeah, yeah, because it's the latest and greatest tool. Totally. Yeah. And again, as we were connected, we're looking at, you know, how do we help internal communicators, you know, achieve a higher level, you know, become strategic voices within the organization. And so, you know, we're focused on the analytics, you know, what can these internal communications platforms and all of the activities that are happening and being, you know, all the communications delivered via this platform and technology, what is their impact on the business. And so we're really focused on, you know, the analytical side of it, and really arming the internal communications team with really insightful data that's actually going to help them go to go to the C suite and say, here's how we're contributing to x business problem. And we have data to back that up, right? Because without the data, that becomes very challenging. It's like, oh, we think it's working. And oh, people are opening the emails. And you know what, that's not really, like you were saying before, it's kind of just a feeling. Right? It's not, yeah, based on facts and data. 

Julie Ford 19:57 

So do you have any thoughts on analytics and how internal communications professionals should be leveraging those to their advantage? 

Jenni Field 21:12 

So my, my main experience around analytics is making sure that it's aligned to what the leadership team are looking at. So we can sometimes think, you know, we have to have data and you're right, we do need, we do need aspects of data, but we can get a bit lost in, I need some data, I need some reports to show my value and my worth. And I've done this, right, so I had a CEO who didn't really see any value of communication, it was it was fun. And they were very data driven as an individual. So I thought, I'm gonna get all this data. And I'm going to look at, you know, sharing this because I know that data is really important to them. And it just didn't work. Because I could have given them all the data in the world. But that's not going to change someone's mind. We don't make decisions based on data, we make decisions based on emotional feelings. So you've got to kind of join those two bits together. So what I ended up doing was listening to the words they were using when they were talking about everything else. And they used to talk about value all the time, what value does it bring? What value does it bring? And so I'd always so I ended up going in and saying, I don't know what you mean by value when it comes to communication, which was a terrifying point in my career, I'm not going to lie walking into a CEOs office and ask that question could have been somewhat career limiting. And they said, Oh, it's about risk. For me, it's about risk. And I thought, Okay, this makes sense. So rather than coming at you with all this data and insight around engagement, how we can change things, I need to talk to you about how we can be less risky, and how this is going to help our reputation and talk about it in that way. So it was still kind of data, but it's sort of pivoting it in a way that is aligned to what the leaders are looking for. So rather than we need to go and engage the US team in this new tool, I flipped that narrative to there's a risk, they're going to spend half a million pounds. And I think we need to stop that. And it was like, yes, we need to stop that immediately. Go, go and fix it. So you're still using the data, but you're changing your narrative around it. And I think that's such a skill in the communicator, to get that buy in to show that value is what's the story that that data tells, and how is it aligned to what the leadership are asking you to do. Because if you just go in there with a dashboard, you might not get very far, I will caveat that and say it does depend on where you are as a as a function in terms and I'm going to use the word maturity, which can feel a bit loaded, but it's if you're a brand new function, then you aren't going to have loads of data. And your measurement is what your measurement is, if you're a brand new function, and they want you to put in a new platform, and they want that platform to help communicate and engage and just get information out there, then yes, looking at data around how many people are looking at things and their dwell time. And some of those things are hugely helpful. So you've got to do what's right for where you are as a function, and then what you're trying to achieve, and aspire to that real kind of business impact. So don't feel like you've got it like tomorrow, I need to look at business impact. It depends where you are as a function and what you can do, and what you need the data to do for you. I mean, that's the biggest thing. I've had to do things where we've had to, we've had to use data to show how are we saving money year on year from, you know, we've invested in this tool. This is the annual investment, this is how much we save every year because of this investment. And that's really hard. But it's using data in the ways to tell the story that you need. 

Julie Ford 24:25 

Yeah, yeah, I love that. I think, yes, you need the data, but you have to create the story from that data that's going to be meaningful to the CEO, and have an impact on a business. So that's key, for sure. Awesome. So getting into a very pressing topic on technology. Over the past month or so there's just been an explosion of AI tools. I wanted to get your take on that. How do you see AI content tools specifically impacting internal communication? as a profession? 

Jenni Field 25:01 

So I love this question. And it's a question I've been asked a lot in the last few months. And it's made me go, I need to go away and research this more. And I am familiar with, with, you know, Jack GBT. And I know where we're sort of looking at in terms of this worry, what was interesting and a conversation I've been having. I've been having a few conversations about this in recent weeks. And it's very interesting, because some people are saying, this is incredible, it's saving me loads of time, it's giving me a draft of some content, I can then edit and I can sort of play with. So it's helping me not have to spend time researching, that's really good. Other people are saying, I want to go live in a cabin in the woods, and I don't want to play with this. I'm almost in that camp. And then other people are talking about things in lots of different ways. Someone said to me on a call last week as part of a coaching group that I'm with, and they said, it's not the tool, you have to fear, it's the people that can use the tool that you need to fear. And that's really stayed with me, because actually, we worry about the tool and what the tool is going to do. But actually, if you look at the people that are going to come in and say I can use this tool, I know how to use it, and I can help you get stuff done really quickly. Because I know how to use this tool. That is that's the game changer. It's and is that person, professional as a communicator, are they ethically sound? Are they bound by a code of ethics? You know, all those sorts of things that we are trained in, that we learn as communicators? Are those people getting those skills and those insights to know that they're doing things kind of in the right way. And there's lots of AI tools that are for content, but also for for drawing and art and things like that. And then how do you attribute that and there's, there's so much at the moment, and I think it's that sort of fear of the unknown. But there is this need to be skilled in it, I do come back to again, and again, even when I'm, you know, looking at some of the work that matters doing around VR headsets, and work rooms, and how you can be in the metaverse with your team and have all these meetings, I will always come back to the fact that we have to understand what it is to be a human being and understand people and understand relationships at work. Because that doesn't change even with technology. And understanding how technology needs to play a role within that space of us being human beings is the bit that for me is always going to be really important. That said, we can't just ignore all of this stuff. So it's the ethics of it, it's the kind of be helpful, and it's just taking the time to understand I think that's what we need to do at the moment is just, let's see kind of what's going on. Because if we go back in time, you know, when there were fax machines, and somebody would say, Oh, you don't need a fax machine anymore, because you can just attach this document and through your computer, it will go off around the world, people were like, wow, that was scary, I'm sure. Now we do that, like, yeah. Now we do that completely normally without even thinking about it. So we you know, we can see how quickly things can change. And as a communicator, the biggest thing is to not be left behind. So just getting enough knowledge that you can advise, you don't need the depth of knowledge, but enough knowledge that you can add. 

Julie Ford 28:01 

Yeah, because that is a question that, you know, this sea level might start asking the internal comms team. So Oh, I saw this tool that could you know, automate some of the content creation you're doing? What do you think about it? So I think, you know, people need to be armed with a little bit of knowledge, and a perspective on on that to be able to have an informed conversation with leadership, when that topic does come up, because of course, from the sea level, it's like, oh, this could save us a lot of time. This could save us a lot of money. Let's explore it, you know, but there, it's not quite that simple. Awesome. Well, thank you for your insight. 

Jenni Field 28:38 

Yeah, it's not. And it's and it's also not, not that human, is it? I think that's the thing is, it's got to be you can tell, like, I can tell when someone's written something from Ai, because it doesn't  quite sound right, just yet. So it's just yeah, it's but it's having You're right. It's when they come and ask that question, what's your answer? And your answer can be, you know, whatever is the right answer for you. But you need to know enough to have an 

Julie Ford 29:00 

exactly yeah, I don't think it's okay to say, oh, no, that's, you know, not a thing, right? You can't just brush it off, because I think then they're gonna go ask somebody else, or they're going to start to do their own research. So you need to have some kind of opinion. Something to say that's intelligent in response to that question. Definitely. That's a good segue into the next question for you, which what are the biggest opportunities you see for internal communications professionals at this point? Oh, 

Jenni Field 29:27 

what a great question. So I think some of our biggest opportunities come from understanding a little bit more about what's going on outside of our organization. So I think we live in a world that is much more socially aware and much more probably politicized than it has been in recent years. And I think that traditionally, internal communicators can often focus inside their organizations whereas I think the opportunities are to understand the world around your organization, understanding the external factors on your industry and in the organization that you work in, and the pressures on the leadership team. And some of those slightly bigger organizational things that people are looking at around ESG. And, you know, trust in leaders and some of the politics around things and climate and all those things, I think that's where there is a big opportunity, because it's, it's bringing internal communicators into the space of the broader organization, and not just being focused on that internal kind of people employee experience, which is important and a big part of what we need to do. But I think there's some bigger things that we can massively support, and we can massively influence in the organization. And I think that opportunity to do that is now  

Julie Ford 30:47 

Yeah, and all of those, you know, things that are happening in the world, those are affecting the employees, right. So it's important to keep that in mind when communicating with people. And, you know, the timing of a communication is really crucial. So I think that's a really sound advice. Do you have any guidance for internal communications professionals who may be starting out in their career? What tips would you offer them, in order to be successful, 

Jenni Field 31:17 

I would say they should read my book. 

Jenni Field 31:26 

So I think there was a lot of content out there around communication, I'm contributing to that, obviously. But you have to, you have to think about how you're going to have an impact on the organization. So we're, if you're just starting out in internal communication, understanding some of the fundamentals about you know, human beings and how we work. And there's some really great books on this that you can read, that kind of help us understand people, I've just finished listening to the Chimp Paradox, which has nothing to do with communication at all. And it's helpful for everybody to listen to, but it helps us understand how our brains work. And if you're starting out in communication, understanding some of that stuff as a starting point will just really help you, I think, then you can start to look at making sure you've got the insight from the organization. So you're listening to employees, you're listening to the leadership team. And you know, what channels are available for you to communicate and engage with the workforce. And if you don't know some of those things, there are loads of events that you can go to, I think the best advice I can give is reach out to people in your network and ask them for help. I live and die by my network. You know, I love them all dearly on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. And I use that network a lot. And people use me a lot, I get lots of questions and things like that. And that's what you need to do just have that courage to drop someone a DM, drop me a DM in and say, I've just started, I don't really know where to go, I don't know where to go. There are people that do mentoring service, there are professional bodies that exist, but it's about finding the right people for you to connect with that will help you and the right events that would help you connect and network with people. And that's, that's the biggest thing for me. 

Julie Ford 33:05 

Yeah, that's, that's great advice. And there, there is such a strong community of internal communications professionals that I've seen on LinkedIn. And people are always so receptive to a conversation, and always so helpful with so much experience and so many insights to share. So that's excellent advice, and a great place to start. Where do you hope to see the internal communications profession in five years from now, 

Jenni Field 33:31 

so where I'd like to see it, and where I actually think it will be probably two different things. When I look at the, when I look at the trends in internal communication over the years, there really isn't a lot that changes. So if we look back over 10 years, it's the same stuff that comes up year on year. And that's because some of the some of the stuff is hard. And it's easy to just not do that, because it's too hard. So we'll just focus on introducing a new digital tool, rather than training our line managers and communication skills, because that's going to take time and budget and you know, it's not as tangible and not as visible. So I think where we will be, is probably very similar to where we are now. I think that what will be interesting in five years is how different the workplace is, I think we're still stuck in this hybrid working noise around location, which to me is not the right thing we should be looking at, we should be looking at how we can reimagine work for every worker. And that's, you know, shift workers, frontline workers, deskless workers, not just people that work in an office, which we seem to have got a bit of stuck in this office mentality when I think it's over 50% of the workforce don't even work in an office. So that that I think will be interesting to see what the impact of that will be in five years. If we're still talking about hybrid work in an office in five years. I'm coming back on this podcast and we're going to have a good ranting session about how nothing changes and it'll be like therapy for people. So I'd like to see that shift, I'd like to see internal communications really playing a role communicating and helping organizations be efficient and engaging in a much more modern way that is away from some of the traditional ways of working. So that's what I'd like to see. I can't see the tech stuff moving that quickly, I think five years, I think we'll have a bit maybe a bit more. But I think some of our technology inside organizations isn't where it needs to be, you know, even conversations we have with clients around, have you got the HR data to prepopulate information about people in in the platform? And it's like, no, we don't. So until we have some of those things done. I think the ambitions around some of our tech digital world is probably a little way off. So. So yeah, I don't I'm not sure. Because I think we're still in this awkward post pandemic phase to see where things start to land around sort of workplace culture and things.  

Julie Ford 35:58 

Yeah, yeah, there are still companies, I'm based in Toronto, but there are still companies here who are slowly doing that shift saying, Okay, everybody has to come in three days a week, and then you know, in two months, it's going to be you're going to have to be in the office four days a week. And so there's still a lot of that transition happening. And there's resistance from employees. So it's a little bit chaotic. Yeah, but you mentioned reaching. Yeah. 

Jenni Field 36:21 

And it's, it's such an interesting topic. Totally, totally. 

Julie Ford 36:25 

We'll see how that plays out. Right? And where people land? And does that lead to people seeking comfortable fully remote organizations or were in office organizations, let's see that you mentioned the deskless workers, and how that is a huge part of the workforce that's often neglected or left out from communications. And I see that as a huge opportunity. You know, because regardless of whether your office employees or your desk-based employees are in the office or at home, we still have this other huge segment of the workforce that is going to be deskless and remote and on the front line. So how do we actually involve those people in critical communications? And how do we keep them connected to the company? This is something that, you know, I think there's a huge opportunity to figure out and hopefully in five years, if we come back on this podcast, I've seen some progress on that front. 

Jenni Field 37:19 

Yeah, I think we will. I mean, I think that we published research, we published a research paper in 2019, called remotely interested, which was designed to look at how the dessas workers want to be communicated to and we're actually going to be re looking at that this year, in 2023, to look at how that might have moved on. Because when you look at the, when you look at the data on that it is things like line manager skills, it is things like making sure that they have some element of autonomy over what they're doing. So yes, I think let's come back in five years and see where we are, we can re listen to this and see whether we were we were correct. But things are starting to shift in the right direction. But a lot of work needs to be done for desperate workers to help them for sure. 

Julie Ford 37:59 

Awesome. Well, it's been such a pleasure chatting with you today. Jenny, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast. One final question, what's the best way for our listeners to connect with you? 

Jenni Field 38:11 

Well, thank you for having me. And the best way I would say is LinkedIn. So I'm on their quite a lot. And just you can search me with Jenny field. 

Julie Ford 38:19 

Perfect. And if they wanted to get your book, where can they find that?  

Jenni Field 38:22 

So on our website, which is redefining comps.com, there is a section in there called Explore and you can see links to the couple of books that I've got. I'm also on Amazon. So if that's easier for people, you can do that. But there's obviously other book selling websites and providers out there should you wish to choose them. 

 Julie Ford 38:39 

Perfect. All right. Well, thank you so much, Jenny. I hope to talk to you soon. 

Jenni Field 38:43 

Great. Thank you so much for having me, Julie. 

Julie Ford 38:46 

Thanks for listening to the Icahn podcast. This podcast has been brought to you by Sparrow connected head over to Sparrow connected.com To learn more about the internal comms platform that is elevating the internal comms profession. And be sure to follow we lead comms on LinkedIn. If you liked this podcast, please subscribe on your favorite podcast channels and tune in for the next episode. 

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