Ready, steady, go!

By martin flegg

January 10, 2021 

The 2021 CIPR Inside committee  met for the first time on 12 January.

I’ve been with CIPR Inside for a few years now, as a committee member, Treasurer, Vice Chair and now Chair, and the first meeting of the year is always an exciting, but slightly daunting one as well.

On the one hand there is the energy and enthusiasm from around the table (this year a virtual Zoom table of course) from existing committee members and some new faces, to really get going and start to make things happen.

On the other hand, there is a mostly blank planner to fill with content, ideas and activities to help support internal communicators, and some big questions.

What are the important topics going to be for internal communicators?

What would be most helpful to enable them to overcome the challenges of this year, and to learn and develop?

And here’s the really big one.

Can a bunch of volunteers pull it off again, in our spare time, and continue to be one of the high-profile players and voices in the world of internal communication.

No pressure!

It’s at this time of the year that we start to see a lot of predictions and commentary about what the year ahead looks like for the internal communication profession and what we should be mostly thinking about and doing over the next twelve months.

I think that last year, most of us got those predictions drastically wrong and the pandemic will inevitably continue to drive much of what we get up to over the coming months, and possibly years beyond that. 

The pandemic certainly featured heavily in our first committee discussion, and in our CIPR Inside 2021 introductory blog which we recently published. Have a read and see if you agree with our predictions.

Drawing on the thoughts in this blog, and the collective wisdom of the committee members, we ended up identifying three key themes which we will be exploring in the first part of this year.

We have some good reasons for running with these themes, and it would be interesting to hear your perspectives on them and what sort of things we could do to help you as an internal communicator to deal with them.

Leadership Communication

In 2020, organisational leaders and management had to really step up, and often out of their comfort zones, to communicate with workforces honestly and transparently. With the old theatrics and stage management of in person face to face Town Halls stripped away, we saw leaders adopting a more human style of communication, with a new frequency and intensity.

How do we keep that going in 2021 and how should we help leaders to adapt and refine it to enable them to create real meaning for employees in an empathic and genuine way, in the difficult days ahead?



When the apocalypse struck, mental and physical wellbeing collapsed, inside and outside the workplace, and internal communicators spent a lot of time in 2020 talking about and communicating about wellbeing.

In 2021 we need to communicate about wellbeing in ways that are truly helpful for employees and go beyond simply pointing them at Employee Assistance Schemes and other hastily implemented interventions.

To be truly meaningful, wellbeing needs to be woven into the fabric of the way organisations do business, how they communicate with their workforces and how they listen to them. Internal communicators have a big part to play in that, but it is not our sole responsibility and we will need to collaborate with others, for example HR colleagues, to achieve this.

Which leads us onto the next of our themes, and perhaps the biggest of them all.

Organisational Culture and Change

The pandemic has been a massive disrupter, it has trashed business models and unleashed a tsunami of change inside organisations. Most of us started 2020 in crisis communication mode and ended it in change communication mode. We are likely to be there for some time.

Those organisations that can communicate about change to their employees effectively, to drive the necessary business adaptations and the associated behaviour changes this requires, will be the ones that survive and thrive post apocalypse.

As we continue to move through the pandemic, it’s becoming apparent that some organisations just don’t have the right cultures to enable them to adapt to the new order that is establishing itself. The rise in the use of employee surveillance software is just one example of this, where trust is in short supply. This cultural dysfunction, impacts employee wellbeing and business performance. It is the root cause of a poor workplace experience for many.

In 2021 many organisations will need to start to work out how to build hybrid communities of remote workers, office workers and dispersed teams, and create remote first cultures to support this radically new way for working.

Effective internal communication will need to be a big part of that culture change.

Ready, Steady, Go!


Martin Flegg – CIPR Inside 2021 Committee Chair