Guest Insight: Jennifer Sproul, Chief Executive of the IoIC

What do you see as the fundamental role of the IC function in businesses today?

For me the fundamental role of internal communications is both strategic and advisory and has become the voice of the employee, culture and business environment. Internal Communications teams need to work with leadership to understand what is going on at the top of business and be able to advise and steer how this should be strategically communicated to the workforce, in order to meet the organisations overall objectives.

How do you think this role has changed over the last 5/10 years?

Organisations have had to adapt to keep pace with continuous change and innovation. Whilst employees are demanding a lot more from their employers, they are more value driven and influenced by more content sources and channels, which can’t always be controlled. In response they want more openness and to feel more valued, connected and informed by their employer. This has had a major impact on internal communications, in not only where but how we communicate.

Why do you believe those changes have come about?

A major driver of this change is the fact that businesses are now managing a workforce across multiple generations, with differing needs and communication expectations. There is also now more of a demand for remote working with the use of digital and social channels increasing, dramatically changing the way we communicate within a business but also how we create a culture of collaboration and conversation.

How do you believe face to face comms fits in the overall IC toolkit and what special skills does this area require from IC teams?

Whilst there has been an increase in technology and digital platforms, face to face remains the most effective channel and could never replace the importance of a human conversation. As I mentioned before, with the change in business, employees are expecting a more emotional connection and the key way to do this is by having visibility of the leadership team. Face to face communication is all about the people factor and internal communications professionals play an important role in these environments.

Do you believe IC truly has a seat at the top table in the way that HR does? If not, why not?

There is no doubt that IC is imperative to an organisations success and therefore 100% needs to be discussed at board level. We are seeing the reporting line of IC direct to CEO/leadership increase which is great news for us, and we are also seeing IC move more within the HR function. In my opinion, we need to work collaboratively with all senior functions to include, marketing, HR and corporate communication, to ensure that the topic of internal communication and the role people play in meeting the organisations strategic goals is being discussed by leaders and plans are being created which firmly places IC at the heart of the agenda.

Why would you recommend someone follow a career in IC?

Internal comms is a fantastic career, but unfortunately, we still aren’t getting the recognition from a career point of view. So many times I hear “I fell into it” which is such a shame as in my eyes it is a privileged place to be. Internal communications allows you to see, first-hand the impact you are having by making employees feel good. It’s rewarding, varied and dynamic.  In my opinion we need to see more graduate roles in IC and promote it as a career path in line with other areas of PR or communications degrees.

What’s been your proudest moment as Chief Executive of the IoIC?

There’s been so many highlights since being part of the IoIC that I wouldn’t say there is one moment but just the overall impact we can make on people’s careers. I love speaking to members and learn how we, as a professional body, can help people grow and make them feel good about themselves and their careers. It’s a very rewarding job to be in.