A unified workforce

decorativeInternal communication knits an organisation together. It informs, engages and inspires our people, fostering pride and connection to create a unified workforce with a thriving culture. Internal communication takes place across many channels.

‘At the heart of communication is the art of storytelling,’ says Principal Internal Communications Officer, Mark Pallot. ‘Curating stories and encouraging others to share stories across the different platforms is key to effective engagement.’

At the start of 2021–22 we saw we could be doing this better. Not everyone was engaged in our social network, Workplace. Our internal newsletter had an open rate of 48%. While this was on par with that of other government agencies, there was room for improvement.

‘At the heart of communication is the art of storytelling’

This year we crafted a new engagement strategy

Data showed that video storytelling generated the greatest engagement. This informed our new communication strategy and in 2022 we launched EPA TV, Executive News and the Behind the Leader podcast.

‘The objective was to increase the voice of our leadership and showcase some of the priorities, great work and people across the divisions,’ Mark Pallot says.

We also needed to rethink how we shared stories across our social enterprise channels. We redesigned the internal newsletter, Grapevine, to make it more engaging and increase the rate of click-throughs to Workplace. We crafted the stories into smaller, bite-sized nuggets and moved from fortnightly to weekly issues, with more video-story segments,

The result? In less than 12 months open rates rose to an average of 81%, click-through rates also rose, and we drove more traffic to the Workplace platform.

We’re revamping the intranet

Our intranet houses policies, information and core documents. We’re now rebuilding it to make it a more modern and ‘digestible’ information hub for employees.

We’re introducing a new tool

As we enter 2022–23 we’re replacing Workplace with a new social enterprise tool, Yammer. This will be integrated with the Microsoft Office 365 suite and provide more opportunities for collaboration.

Our engagement strategy will continue to evolve, allowing our people to share more of their stories, which will bring us closer together.

Vision and values

How an organisation operates is shaped by its vision and values.

At the EPA we are guided in our work by five identified characteristics of a world-class regulator: having a learning mindset, being outcomes-focused, being responsive and adaptive, being purpose- and people-centred, and being service-oriented. We are also guided by our core values of being collaborative, curious, bold, inclusive and kind.

The stories in this chapter show how our work has followed these guiding principles in 2021–22.

Transforming the media narrative

Seeing the EPA in action makes a difference, as the Parramatta River fish kill in February 2022 showed. We first heard about the fish kill from a fishing channel on YouTube. Soon the media were on our doorstep (figuratively speaking), asking what killed the fish and what we were doing about it.

We immediately told them we were looking into it, and bumped up our visibility. Regular social media posts showed our officers out on the water, testing. We then invited Channel 7 onto one of our boats to report firsthand on the fish kill and our response.

The more visible we became, the more chances we had – online and elsewhere – to discuss the complex factors that caused the kill. The local community became engaged, waving from boats at our officers and asking them questions as they came into the jetty.

‘People stopped and talked to us. That kind of community chatter is really important,’ says our Manager for Public Affairs and Communications, Alvin Stone. ‘The public’s confidence came with seeing us in action, and our proactive engagement with the media to explain the causes ofthe kill.’

And we’re ready if this happens again. We’ve set up permanent monitors in the Parramatta River so we can respond more quickly to any future event and even anticipate it.

The 2022 fish kill showed how having the community see our officers at work builds transparency and trust in the EPA.

Connecting during COVID

decorativeThis year has been far from tranquil. Its start saw many of us in lockdown due to COVID 19 and since then we’ve had months of fires, floods and environmental incidents.

In these challenging times our number-one priority has been the safety, health and wellbeing of our employees. Effective, clear and timely communication has been key to maintaining a unified and connected culture.

Regular updates, tools, guides and leader packs have been some of the ways we’ve communicated how we would manage through the pandemic and during our measured return to the workplace. That return to the workplace has allowed for people’s varied personal circumstances while also meeting the EPA’s needs.

We are still having to live and work with COVID-19. As we do so, we will be drawing upon two of our world-class regulator characteristics: being responsive and adaptive, and having a learning mindset.