RESOURCES SCRUTINY GROUP –21 OCTOBER 2003 ITEM 6
REPORT OF THE HEAD OF COMMUNICATIONS
1. This report is an update on progress with developing and implementing an
Internal Communications Strategy.
It is RECOMMENDED that
the strategy and actions listed in this paper are noted.
The Internal Communications strategy
2. In December 2002 the Council adopted a new Internal Communications
Strategy. This set out to recognise the importance of internal communications
when delivering excellent services and the importance of each member of
3. The current Rushcliffe Borough Council Corporate Plan states ‘we recognise
that our employees are our most valuable assets, vital to the excellent
services we provide. We will endeavour to maintain good employee relations
to ensure maximum performance and productivity.’
4. The Strategy seeks to draw together the many good examples of internal
communications within the Council and set down a coherent plan to raise
standards of staff satisfaction and, therefore, quality of service.
5. Effective internal communications is a key to:
• improved employee morale and motivation
• greater productivity
• lower absenteeism and turnover
• stronger commitment to organisational goals
• more job satisfaction
• effective external communications
6. A key element of the strategy is to survey staff annually to monitor trends in
each of the above, as well as measuring satisfaction with various aspects of
7. Staff surveys were undertaken in 2001 and 2003. A comparison of the results
are attached as appendix 1.
Internal communication methods
8. The key ideas which are being implemented include a continuation of those
elements which already work well, including:
• the staff newsletter (printed publication every two months – Rushcliffe
• weekly Staff Matters (emailed to all staff)
• circulation of Members Matters
• copies of key publications for all staff (eg Corporate Plan, residents’
newsletters, guide to councillors, A-Z of services etc)
• Promoting a more open culture - eg the Chief Executive writing a regular
column in the staff newsletter, sending regular emails to all staff about
matters of importance (eg progress with Comprehensive Performance
Assessment), holding annual talks with the Leader to all staff on progress
being made with key objectives and performance measures
• Members receive a weekly Members’ Matters, a monthly Members’
Monthly and bulletins on matters requiring more depth
• Building on the appraisal system - these are the key meetings at which
managers and staff articulate their views on their roles, training required
and discuss service and personal development.
Investors in People
9. The Internal Communications Strategy was developed as part of the bid to
achieve Investors in People (IiP) status. The aim was to ensure that not only
did the Council achieve IiP, but continues to retain it through a gradual
structured improvement of internal communications. Investors in People status
confirms that the Council trains, develops and invests in staff – and improved
internal communications is vital to ensure that staff remain informed, involved
and engaged in delivering good customer service. Even though the Council
has received the IiP award, it is a continuous and ongoing process to develop
employees and the Council will be regularly assessed to ensure that it
continues to meet the stringent indicators.
10. The first attitude survey into internal communications was undertaken in
March 2003 and the results were evaluated by our market research agency
BMG. Some of the key findings are:
• Council staff agree that they are well informed about the services offered
by the Council (62% agree, 20% strongly agree).
• 77% feel informed about Rushcliffe’s aims and objectives. But a significant
minority do not feel well informed about the Council’s aims and objectives.
There will be an opportunity to address this as the new Corporate Plan is
• 66% of staff agree that regular team meetings are held within their service
area - but there is variation across the Council and it is vital that all service
areas hold regular team meetings. Findings suggest that these meetings
are a key source of internal communication.
• Respondents were asked to select which methods of communication they
felt kept them informed, choosing as many as applicable from a list. The
four most popular methods, according to proportions who agree/agree
staff newsletter (90%),
Staff Matters (83%),
team meetings (77%) and
information from my manager (77%).
• The most popular actions thought to improve communications in terms of
mean ratings include an employee suggestion scheme, team briefings, and
a redeveloped Intranet. These were closely followed in popularity by a
more open culture/management style and more customer feedback.
• Staff participating in the survey were asked which of a selection of
communications training they would benefit from. The most popular
proved to be report writing (26%), presentation skills (24%) and letter
11. A series of new initiatives to improve internal communications are now at
various stages of development. These include:
• Communications training – initially training at every induction session of
new employees. A series of courses for staff will be developed based on
issues identified via annual appraisals eg in report writing, letter writing,
presentation skills etc. In addition, senior officers and Cabinet Members
will be receiving media training.
• A communications manual is being prepared which will contain advice on
plain English, proofreading and guidance on all aspects of written, visual
and oral communications. It will also cover protocols on speaking to the
media, electronic communications and printed communications.
• An internal ideas group has been set up comprising non-managerial staff
from across the Council with the remit to be innovative and put forward
ideas to improve internal communications. This group has developed and
received approval for a new employee suggestion scheme the
‘Rushcliffe Ideas Bank’ which will incentivise and reward staff who have
good ideas. The employee suggestion scheme will be launched in
• A new Intranet will be launched at the end of October and will form the
centrepiece of internal communications. The site will be composed of
several areas and the intranet will be developed over time. Sections on
the intranet include the new employee suggestion scheme,
communications manual, the document centre, tools and resources
commonly used by staff, human resources, a staff noticeboard, help and
frequently asked questions and ‘mini’ sites so that teams can develop their
• Discovery days - where appropriate staff can learn more about service
delivery in other service areas which impact upon the work they do. This
will be agreed as part of the annual performance review.
• Annual staff survey – to monitor and track trends to inform Investors in
People and the progress which is being made with improving internal
Background Papers Available for Inspection:
• Internal Communications Strategy
• Investors in People internal communications survey