Presenting the 45th edition of Intraskope’s Spotlight on Internal Communication Series featuring Sukanya Chakraborty of VFS Global. Sukanya is the Global Head of Corporate Communications & CSR at VFS Global. With over 21 years of experience in global IT services, Outsourcing, Property consulting, interactive media and community start-up companies, Sukanya has driven communication and marketing agendas for B2B and B2C audiences through 360-degree integrated campaigns. She is a strong advocate of collaboration and measuring the value of communications and has proven impact through external and internal brand positioning, demand generation, organic follower growth and increased stakeholder engagement in a collaborative eco-system.
Watch the complete video interview on YouTube or read the transcript below.
1. What does internal communication mean to you?
Internal Communication (IC) to me means sending the right message at the right time via the right channels. How an organization communicates and engages with their employees contributes significantly to creating inspirational, professional, focused and healthy work-environments. At VFS Global, we value good IC and believe it is a critical element of creating a highly successful and engaged organization. The company’s overarching objectives of communicating effectively with its employee’s aims to: 1. Promote employee inclusion, engagement and empowerment by ensuring right information is available to the right people at the right time 2. Strengthen the culture by enhancing awareness and understanding of organizational priorities 3. Build transparency within the organization by improved leadership engagement and communication 4. Measure the impact by creating feedback mechanism and setting measurement metrics.
2. How is it practiced in your organization?
It is structured and governed through a robust IC policy and guidelines. Owned and driven centrally by the Corporate Communication (CC) team, we have a tiered process where content and messaging is driven by CC and design while the look and feel is done by Marketing. Relevant content in line with organizational tone, culture and values is factored in and quality designs aligned with brand guidelines is created to ensure consistency in look and feel. Also, to ensure visibility and enhance the recall value, a calendared approach is followed to space out campaigns/ activities to the extent possible.
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 want to share about a World Environment Day 2020 campaign we did in a tribute to this global event celebrated on 5th June every year. A holistic campaign was launched to build greater awareness on environmental preservation, amongst our stakeholders, which is one of our key CSR pillars. Over 250 employees from across the globe joined a first-of-its-kind exclusive webinar on Climate Change presented by environment expert Kathrin Dellantonio, Head of Corporate Partnerships and Executive Board Member of myclimate, our Swiss-based non-profit partner. The session was hosted by our CCO Peter Brun, who spoke about Sustainability at VFS Global, steps taken by us towards environmental conservation, and our partnership with myclimate. Furthermore, through an engaging ‘Eco-Warriors Video Contest’ we invited employees to share short videos on their sustainable living practices and habits that they follow in their daily lives. The contest received entries from all across the globe, which were showcased globally to staff through an inspiring video released to all employees. To help staff understand how eco-conscious they truly are, a quick and engaging Eco-Quiz was also created and shared with all employees, acting as an eye-opener on how they can improve even more when it comes to protecting the planet. Everything related to this campaign was seamlessly tied into the company’s CSR objectives and worked towards stimulating staff on issues they may be all aware of but tend to not follow due to busy lives. The response to the campaign proved worthwhile as it showed us that given the opportunity, people do want to expand their knowledge on topics like this and participate in initiatives to their bit towards protecting nature.
4. What is the biggest challenge you face while going about managing internal communication?
If we had to choose one, it is the challenge to effectively manage IC in a company that is so widely spread – across countries and nationalities. From messaging and languages to reach and penetration, everything becomes that much more difficult at times.
5. What according to you is the biggest opportunity that internal communicators have?
The biggest opportunity is to galvanize people’s skills and interests beyond work, which in turn makes them more motivated. IC has the power to inspire and influence employees to make them brand advocates and shape company’s reputation both internally and externally.
6. How can internal communicators add more value to the business?
My advice is to bring a stronger focus and awareness on company vision and goals. Strengthen recall of organizational values and culture by constant reiteration Inspire and empower employees by communicating rights things at the right time and through right channels – an informed workforce is a stronger workforce! Transform an organization into being an ‘Employer of Choice’ by promoting an inclusive and engaging communication Enable employees to away a stronger, positive opinion of the organization when they leave
7. What skills must they have or develop?
My recommendations are: 1. Empathy 2. Strong eye for detail and creative skills 3. The ability to understand objectives of the intended communication and the overall activity/ project 4. Being diplomatic to understand and manage sensitivities of people from all cultures and backgrounds 5. Understanding of current trends and innovation in terms of communicating 6. Great collaboration skills, as an IC professional works with virtually every function in the organization
8. What is your advice for people who are keen to join internal communication and make a career?
Be a people’s person. Be approachable and open to ideas. Use your natural instincts when designing a campaign or writing content.
9. What is your advice for women who want to make a mark in this domain and what must they do differently?
Use your gift of intuition, empathy and key organizing skills to understand the relevance and need for a communication to make it relevant for the audience.
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.
Bring more empathy, Be transparent and keep employees updated with respect to restarting operations. Working from Home for long durations can be emotionally draining so keep the workforce connected and engaged with the organization
11. Can you share one trend that you spot with internal communications?
Use of more digital channels / being omni-channel
12. If there is one aspect of internal communications you would like to change, what would that be?
IC has the power to transform the way employees think and feel about the organization they work with. Often it is a last priority for the management and is mostly ignored. Communication to employees or leadership engagement is vital to setting a transparent, empowered and inclusive culture, which has a direct impact on the bottom line of an organization. It is important to prioritize IC by the management and all functions to make it well-rounded, evolved and sharp.
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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 – Northern Trust, AXA Business Services, Subex, global insurer, Standard Chartered Bank, BASF, Applied Materials India, Microsoft UK, Times Group, Samsung, Falabella, Cisco, Brillio, 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, Philips, Refinitiv and Mastercard.
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