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For those of us who work in a collaborative environment on a daily basis, think about how much of your time is spent communicating with your colleagues. There's no doubt that communications play a critical role in the success of meeting your objectives, but how do you ensure this success? What tools do you use and what processes do you have in place?

Earlier this week, CIRA hosted the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC Ottawa) in our café for their learning event about the role of communications in creating a great workplace. As both a board member of IABC Ottawa, as well as an employee of CIRA, I was thrilled that CIRA could offer up its space to host, and also excited to participate in the discussion.

I'm the communications manager at CIRA and part of my responsibility is internal communications and employee engagement. It's an interesting, rewarding and often fun part of my work. It's also incredibly challenging. IABC Ottawa deliberately chose the topic of communications' role in creating a great place to work as it's a strategic use of communications to overcome challenges related to employee engagement. I was surrounded by thoughtful communicators from the Ottawa community and was in good company.

The event featured a panel of experts, which included CIRA's director of human resources Sanita Alias. The conversation spanned everything from culture and brand, hiring practices, tools for engagement successes and challenges, and leadership. At CIRA, the communications team works side-by-side with HR on employee engagement and Sanita represented HR professionals and her communications colleagues well.

"We need to create the space for all employees to be part of the organization," said Alias. "I recommend creating opportunities for those who are shy or introverted to join the conversation. At CIRA we host regular Ask Me Anything events with our CEO, and employees who don't feel comfortable asking their question out loud can send their question in anonymously in advance."

Fellow panellist Allison Maclachlan, director of internal and strategic communications at CBC, spoke about a grassroots internal engagement campaign at CBC that engaged employees in developing the organization's values. She noted the importance of helping employees make personal connections and communicating in a large organization. It's not easy but important. CIRA is a relatively small organization with approximately 90 employees and I would say this is useful in our context as well.

The event sold out, which gives an indicator of the value of this topic. I learned a lot and I'm excited to transfer the learnings here at CIRA. I hope other attendees feel the same.

Interested in learning more about CIRA's work culture? Find out more here.