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The Power of Data & Sentiment Analysis with Department for Transport’s Digital Channels Lead, Tom Miles

Series 2 - Episode 2

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S02E02 – DfT

Work Happy Podcast: S2 – Episode 2

Engagement is more than numbers and metrics; the freedom to provide feedback, and the sentiment behind that feedback, is immensely important to employee engagement. It’s vital at the best of times, but with the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ on the horizon, the role of internal comms has never been more essential.

Sharing how an open approach to intranet comments and sentiment analysis is helping keep the Department for Transport’s team in touch with their values, Tom Miles, Digital Channels Lead, joins us on episode 2 of the new series of Work Happy to delve into using data to better understand their teams, the imminent uptake of hybrid events, and keeping internal communications’ seat at the table.

This episode covers

  • How Tom’s computer science background helps him fully utilise internal comms tools
  • Using blogs and video to facilitate better engagement
  • Sentiment analysis, and how to best use qualitative data
  • Encouraging live events and meetings through Teams as a part of a hybrid future
  • Internal Communications’ seat at the table, and how we can stay there
  • Minimising the impact of a post-pandemic increase in changing job roles


Translating the technical

“I think one of the things I tried to bring to my role is being able to translate the technical aspects of digital stuff into more general comms language, so that people can understand the technical intricacies.”


“My team has considerably upskilled themselves, so we can provide that kind of professional advice to the department about how to use the different options in teams, be it a webinar, a live event, or just a normal team’s meeting.”

Working online

“We want to encourage people to work in Leeds and Birmingham so we’re going to have to offer an online option, because it’s not realistic to expect people to commute to London for a three hour event.”

Encouraging Feedback

“On our intranet, we always encourage comments on our stories. We never turn off comments, even on the stories we know might not land as well with the audience. We don’t disable comments because we know the value that people being able to provide feedback and express themselves has to their engagement in the organisation.”

Sentiment Analysis

“Hosts of live events come away with a feeling about the sentiment and the questions they’re asked, and we frequently hear, ‘Oh, we got loads of negative questions today’, and that’s based on maybe the one most liked question was negative. That comes to the top of their feed, so they go away thinking everyone hated what they were talking about, whereas they haven’t seen the other 50 questions are all positive, or neutral.”

Purpose of Intranets

“I think the clarity of purpose is going to be really critical to intranets, so that users know where to go and what to use it for, and there’s no confusion over that.”

Seat at the table

“We’re part of a formal programme that’s looking at future ways of working for DfT. That’s a good indication that internal comms is seen as important; the very fact that we’re part of that programme board, or sit on the board for that, is a good indication for us that internal comms is fundamental to it.”

Staying involved

“We’re now at the table, and one of the challenges will be to stay at that table, to make sure we don’t go back to where we were before where actually people weren’t inviting us to critical meetings, or weren’t involving us from the start of change programmes and big pieces of work.”

Links & References

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