Covid19 Crearivity Empathy Internal Communication

Video Interview | Harshita Nair | Empathy and creativity can enhance Internal Communications

Presenting the 41st edition of Intraskope’s Spotlight on Internal Communication Seriesfeaturing Harshita Nair of Subex. Watch the complete video interview on YouTube or read the transcript below. 

With over 17 years of experience in the B2B and B2C space, Harshita has managed multiple projects involving internal and external communications (especially, crisis and change communication), leadership and stakeholder management, campaign development and execution. In her roles, she has led strategic and employee engagement communication plans. At Subex. Harshita is responsible for internal communications, employer branding and employee engagement. In this interview, she addressed pressing issues faced by internal communicators as the world of work and workplaces evolve. Read on.

Interview

1. What does internal communication mean to you?

Internal communication is the conduit an organization uses to create a meaningful and engaging experience for an employee. It is not just centered around ‘informing’ employees but has moved way ahead in engaging with them and becoming the fulcrum to create and transform an organization’s culture.

2. How is it practiced in your organization?

At Subex, under the umbrella of Internal Communications, we have a dedicated channel called ‘InterComm’ which looks after all formal IC activities like Open Houses, leadership communication, employee profiling and recognition, as well updates and news on company-wide events, milestones, corporate strategy and information. The second channel under Internal Communications is the Subex Culture Club, the cultural engagement team that looks into all the engagement activities around fun, arts, etc that elicit participation, collaboration and feedback from employees. Together with these two channels, we adopt a dual experience approach with InterComm taking on the informative approach and Subex Culture Club taking on the engagement approach.

3. Please share an example/campaign that you are personally proud of working on and that made a significant impact to an organization in the recent past

I joined Subex a year ago (although this is my second stint here, the first time I handled external communication) to launch and drive Subex’s IC and Employer Branding functions. Subex is going through a transformational change and is on an aggressive growth path. To have the opportunity to create an IC engine from scratch, to meet this growth and transformation – is an adrenaline-rush. But the fact that it has created an impact on Subexians (our employees) at large has been the icing on the cake. Through the various channels, properties and programs that we have launched under InterComm, we have significantly improved the awareness and commitment levels of employees, as they now feel more involved in the growth story of Subex – and as a by-product, are more committed.

4. What is the biggest challenge you face while going about managing internal communication?

I feel it is the diminishing importance of email communication. Which I believe is more to do with a trend in communications in general and has had a ripple effect on internal communication. But email is still the biggest platform for mass-communication.

5. What according to you is the biggest opportunity that internal communicators have?

The diminishing importance of email communication :). This has thrown open so many more avenues to communicate with employees – be it Yammer, desktop apps, social media channels or video communication. Many of these have led to customized messages and curated communication which a mass-email still cannot provide. Also, the agility of this generation, millennials and Gen Z alike has made internal communications a lot more quick, instant and easy to consume.

6. How can internal communicators add more value to the business?

Internal communications can add value to the business only when it finds a seat on the strategy table of an organization. Like HR is gradually. While an organization can have great business plans and strategy, the inability to communicate these to the workforce will lead to failure. This occurs due to lack of engagement and thereby support, more so currently, where employees are also very interested in the larger purpose and success of the organization they work for as opposed to just compensation and benefits. Internal communication is critical to gaining commitment and support of employees to collectively drive the growth of an organization.

7. What skills must they have or develop?

The ability to engage with people, empathy and imagination/creativity in my mind, are the 3 most important skills (in that order) for people wanting to create an impact through IC. Other skills like, content development, crafting and curating messages for a specific audience and other general communication skills are also critical, but engaging and empathizing with employees top the list. Another important skill in today’s era, is to quickly identify the different new platforms and channels that the young workforce is spending time on and leveraging those – because as we all know, we are all dealing with a millennial generation that thrives on instant gratification, decreased attention span and a heightened sense of boredom. 🙂 So , when you tie it back to empathy – you need to understand your audience deeply to be able to engage with them.

8. What is your advice for people who are keen to join internal communication and make a career?

If you don’t have it already, start developing your people management skills, to help you engage with anyone irrespective of age, gender (or inclination), ethnicity etc. As I said, internal communications is no longer about just communicating; it is about engaging and creating an experience.

9. What is your advice for women who want to make a mark in this domain and what must they do differently?

Women as a gender I believe are already equipped with the basic quality of empathy and understanding to a large extent. Through my experience, what I have learnt is that they should balance this ‘perceived sensitive mind-set’ with being very firm and standing their ground where they should. At the end of the day, it’s up to them to make or break their careers. And success in any career is a manifestation of the results you show, irrespective of gender. Women should forget that they are women and hence, not be bound by gender stereotypes like being aggressive to meet their goals, fairly and with integrity, of course. Be Bold. The good part about IC is that it gives women a head-start in success because of the nature of the field. Having said that, I should also add, that they now also need to be vigilant that a lot of men are finding their feet here and the women need to recognize that competition is heating up.

10. With COVID-19 and other crises, how must internal communications engage? What has changed or will change? Examples of how your organization has helped reassure employees and navigate the crisis as it unfolds.

There’s an old debate – no amount of communication is over-communication. This is true in the COVID-19 situation. Especially given the uncertain nature of the pandemic with the situation changing every day. For an organization, Internal communications becomes the central source of truth and guidance as IC provides the directives and approach in a crisis …’the guiding light’ so to speak for employees to clear their apprehensions and fears. At Subex, the internal communications team has been working day and night to ensure that Subexains have always been kept informed as and when Subex’s approach to handling the situation unfolds, including providing authentic, confirmed updates in the wake of false news and hearsay that spread so rapidly. This is a trying and uncertain time for all of us – organization and employees alike. We have consciously attempted to instill the feeling that we are in this together and need to navigate out of this together.

11. Can you share one trend that you spot with internal communications?

What I mentioned earlier. Internal communication is no longer just about disseminating information. It’s about engaging with employees and creating a meaningful experience.

12. If there is one aspect of internal communications you would like to change, what would that be?

I would think it is about getting more people to read emails completely.

Liked the interview? Post your comments and share it with your network. 

Keen to contribute and participate in the ongoing series on Intraskope where we put the spotlight on thought leadership, great ideas, and practical solutions? Look up the previous stories from organizations featured on the Intraskope’s Spotlight on Internal Communication Series  here – global insurer, Standard Chartered Bank, BASF, Applied Materials India,  Microsoft UK, Times GroupSamsung, FalabellaBrillio,UAE Exchange,Apeland,M.H. Alshaya Co, Proctor & Gamble,Infosys, SOBHA Ltd., ICICI Securities, First Advantage, CK Birla Group, TVS Motors, GE,  Suzlon, Tata Sons, Percept, Knight Frank, TCS Europe, Vedanta, Oxfam, Danske Bank, Diageo, Pandora, Symantec, ISS Global Services,Telia,Thomson Reuters, IBM, General Motors,Intelligence India Software Solutions and Philips. 

Intraskope (www.aniisu.com) is the first blog on internal communications in India and among the earliest around the globe. Begun in 2006, the blog has over 1000 posts on topics such as employee engagement, leadership communication and employee branding and receives thousands of visits from across the world. The blog, receives over 1,50,000 visits every month from over 50 countries globally, offers learning resources for practitioners, academicians, and students including industry workshops, research reports, and checklists. 

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