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How Comms Can Evolve Culture with UCL

Episode 6

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Series 1, Episode 6 – UCL

Work Happy Podcast: Episode 6

Communications strategy in a world-renowned educational institution is a tall order, and for UCL’s Head of Employee Experience Kate Faxen, keeping the best interests of its staff at heart is essential as we come back to the workplace.

Giving Alex a look at how the “Belong” programme and data from regular staff feedback is guiding the decisions that UCL are making, Kate joins us for episode 6 of Work Happy to break down their evolving mix of channels, how senior staff sponsorship can usher in cultural shifts, and the inspiring values that are regularly reminded to UCL by an unusual source – a centuries-old philosopher’s dead body…!

This episode covers

  • How UCL are helping their staff come back to work safely and confidently
  • The overlap between communication strategies and cultural change
  • Using data to really connect with the issues affecting colleagues
  • Tweaking the channels used to maximise reach and engagement


Engaging Employees

“All the time when I’m thinking about internal comms, I’m thinking about how the person reading will understand it, and how they’re going to engage with that content. Then it’s not much of a leap to go from that into employee experience.”

Belong programme

“There’s a whole portfolio of things that go into the Belong programme, but it’s about really focusing on what you need to know immediately when you start at UCL. What are all of those questions that, over the 20 years that I’ve worked here, I’ve picked up on but that you may not know in your first few weeks.”

Moving to teams

“We were lucky that we all had some knowledge of how to use Teams. Some of our departments had moved their telephony over already so it was a great starting point. We had to move quickly from only using it for the functionality of the meeting room, to actually using it for everything that we do.”

Cultural change

“I think in UCL what we often find is that we push communication strategy, and what we don’t realise is that it’s cultural change that we’re trying to achieve, so communication is never enough.”

Involving younger colleagues

“We know that our younger staff are struggling more working from home than our older members of staff, which I guess we could have figured out if we’d have really thought about it. But what we can do with that information is, when we’re building the new people management guidance, we can make sure that we involve younger people in the decision making.”

Addressing nerves

“We’re going to be going on public transport, and sitting next to our colleagues without a massive gap in between us, so people are understandably nervous. Our approach will be around slowly introducing people back, being flexible about when they travel in, and about making sure that the time that they spend on campus is really productive, and purposeful.”

Keeping people happy

“My career aspirations, albeit a jokey one, is to be the vice provost of happiness at UCL. I think that sums it up, I want everyone to be happy. I listen to people and I take genuine interest when people come up against challenges, and I want to fix them.”

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