Inspire Inclusion – how internal networks can revolutionise employee engagement

Did you know – co-worker networking has the potential to reduce employee turnover by 140 percent! (Personnel Psychology)

With International Women’s Day and Neurodiversity Celebration Week on the horizon, what better time to explore what it might look like to #inspireinclusion within your organisation and discover the benefits of encouraging internal networks within your own business.

What is an internal network and why encourage them?

An internal network is a formal or informal group set up by or for employees around a shared common interest. Typically, these groups encourage regular engagement with their members which in turn can lead to building and nurturing professional relationships within an organisation.

Internal networks can improve job satisfaction, enhance communication, and increase employee motivation and productivity by encouraging higher levels of employee engagement. According to Engagedly (2023), “teams with high engagement rates are 21% more productive than those with low engagement and employees who are engaged are 27% percent more likely to be excellent performers”. So, what’s not to love!

Our experience with developing internal networks at Partners&

Represented by the first letter of our BEAT (Belonging, Energy, ‘&’ Culture, Together) acronym, belonging and inclusion is integral to our award-winning people programme at Partners&. As a result, identifying and developing opportunities for internal networks was something that our BEAT champions were passionate about from the outset and something they believed would positively benefit our business.

At present, our BEAT committee champions five highly active internal networks across our business including our Women’s Network, Men’s Network, Menopause Network, Neurodiversity Network, and our u30s Network. In collaboration with colleagues from around the business the team developed steering groups for each network who, with support from our Marcomms team, meet to plan events and informative sessions open to all colleagues from across the business to get involved with!

How to launch an internal network within your business – Our 3 top tips

1. Rally your committee
To get an internal network off the ground it is a good idea to appoint a champion(s) who is passionate about the network and would be willing to chair a steering committee to plan activities and events that the wider business can enjoy.

2. Engage with events
Organised events don’t have to cost anything or even be in person if that doesn’t work for your business, but they are a great way to encourage networks to get together and provide relevant content to keep members connected.
Whilst there are tons of advantages to in-person events, such as allowing colleagues to develop relationships and interact face-to-face, online networks/ events can be just as successfully delivered for businesses across multiple sites or operating a hybrid working environment.

3. Establish a rhythm
Once a network is established, the steering group can set the frequency of sessions aligning with both the appetite and capacity of members.

It is a good idea to plan network events within the workday when most people can attend and won’t interrupt their core working hours. The last hour of the day is a good time as this allows colleagues who are interested in a network event to manage their workload and finish early to attend the event.

Session inspiration to get you started

Sessions can be formally led by a guest speaker or informally led by the steering committee.
In the case of an informal event, it is a good idea to have a topic and some structure to in to enable the session to remain focussed. However, as the name suggests a networking event should allow some time to enable the attendees to chat, be it in person or online.

If there is a guest speaker involved, perhaps for an hour session, from experience it is worth asking them to speak for around 40mins using the remaining time for the audience to ask questions and discuss the content raised.

Not sure where to start? – Why not make the most of international women’s day!

International women’s day is taking place on March 8, why not test the waters by suggesting a women’s session/ event with colleagues from across the business to springboard your newest networking group.

For some ideas of where to get started check out our session inspiration below from a mixture of recent and planned sessions across our networks in 2023/2024.
(Given our national footprint all our sessions take place virtually!)