6 January 2022

Best Internal Communication Case Studies of 2021

What. A. Year. 2021 has certainly been a rollercoaster for employee comms. From the Great Resignation to hybrid working, we’ve seen businesses respond to some truly enormous challenges.  

Here at McCann Synergy, it’s become an annual tradition to start each year by reflecting on which trailblazing internal comms projects made us sit up and take stock. So, keep reading for that New Year inspiration as we round up some of our own and external internal communication examples of 2021.   

Top 8 internal comms case studies

1. NatWest:  Turning colleagues into vloggers   

The story: NatWest Personal Banking’s 28k colleagues serve over 17 million customers. When their internal TV show, Watch, needed modernising, the Comms team didn’t just give it a quick revamp – they went right back to the drawing board. And the result? An exciting new employee vlogger channel called Bee Vloggers.  

Supported throughout by us here at McCann Synergy, we held auditions to discover Natwest’s seven Bee Vloggers and turned these colleagues turned into mini-celebs. Recording regular 2-min vlogs covering everything from product updates to community news. Bee Vloggers won an award at Engage Employee for its fresh, engaging approach that was a huge hit with colleagues. In fact, it’s inspired departments across the rest of the business that are now looking to launch vlogs of their own! 

Why we love it: By embracing a new innovative way of connecting employees. By using YouTube-style bite-sized content, NatWest has created a new channel that really is by colleagues, for colleagues. And we’re not the only ones who think so – it’s been picking up internal communication awards all year!  

2. Nestlé: Getting strategic with wellbeing  

The story: In 2021, Nestlé could see that remote working was impacting colleagues’ physical and mental wellbeing. Wanting to do more than introduce a new initiative, Nestlé did everything they could to embed wellbeing right across their people strategy. Focusing on four elements, physical health, mental health, nutrition and workplace set-up, they brought in new tools and guidance across the board to give people more headspace and time.  

Friday afternoons were to be kept clear; back-to-back meetings were to be avoided. Adopting the mantra ‘Taking care of your body is taking care of your business’, leaders were quick to start role-modelling the new behaviours, as tools and tips were rolled out across the business. This focus also included plenty of hands-on activities that people could do from home, such as expert chefs teaching employees how to cook a balanced meal in 30 minutes. 

Why we love it: It has the power of three; tools, clear guidance and inspiration. This is a great example of well-being done well. We particularly loved their rollout of the Eisenhower Matrix prioritising tool – do, delegate, schedule, eliminate – to prevent burnout.  

3. Nationwide Building Society: Big conversation 

The story: When Nationwide wanted to reinvigorate its sense of purpose, the team went BIG, with an enormous company-wide collaboration. The award-winning BIG Conversation strategy gathered ideas from 18,000 employees across five weeks, with TalkBack events, online surveys and an unprecedented listening exercise.  

All staff and members had the chance to contribute to Nationwide’s future. The result? A refreshed strategy and a marketing campaign based on the new concept of ‘Building Society, Nationwide’. 

Why we love it: It’s a perfect example of the gold dust that employees have. By not only listening to employees suggestions, acting on them to create a strategy fit for purpose.  

4. Mondi: Inspiring sustainability launch  

The story: When Mondi, a global leader in packaging and paper solutions, wanted to launch their new sustainability strategy, MAP 2030, they decided to do it with a global town hall event. But this was no run-of-the-mill meeting, CEO Andrew King presented, as you might expect, but it was the guest speaker – world-famous astronaut, Tim Peake – who took the event to a whole new level. Discussing the planet, people, and Mondi’s drive for a more sustainable future, Tim spoke about the impact the Overview Effect had on him up in space.  

We worked with Mondi to create a film to capture the awe-inspiring message to be shared for Mondi’s people. 

Why we love it: Really, what’s not to love about inviting an actual live astronaut to your town hall? It’s a powerful reminder to think big when it comes to internal comms.   

5. Aldi: A bit of fun 

The story: Aldi’s internal comms team wanted to motivate and engage frontline colleagues with a fun experience in the run-up to Christmas day. With the challenges of remote working, we partnered with Aldi to create an advent calendar packed with daily games, activities and prizes.  

We developed a variety of different Christmas-themed games and competitions that kept colleagues coming back for more, including a grand prize draw. The advent calendar attracted over 8,000 competition entries every single day – a 122% increase last year which made this campaign one of 2021 industry award winners. 

Why we love it: This was a big fun project but with some serious goals. Aldi recognised that to truly make a difference to employee engagement levels, we needed to give employees a little bit of fun during a busy time of year.  

6. Missguided: Getting the Vibes 

The story:  Missguided, the online fashion retailer, didn’t just want corporate values that felt off-brand – they wanted ‘Vibes’. To create these vibes, they ran a four-week creative campaign to capture essential colleague insight, here’s how it worked:  

  •  Week oneLove – Colleagues shared their greatest loves using ‘love selfies’ and completed a survey to say what they loved doing in their job. 
  • Week two: Positivity – 500 smiles were dropped on colleagues’ desks asking the question “What made you smile last?” 
  • Week 3: Fun – This time it was sweets that were handed out, posing the question: “How do you have fun at work?” 
  • Week 4: Empowerment – Colleagues answered the question, ‘What’s your biggest dream?’. 

The team used all the feedback to create Missguided’s final four Vibes – and their associated behaviours.  

Why we love it: It can be all too tempting to create values based on input from the C-Suite only. But if you want your values to resonate, real colleague input is the way to make it happen, and Missguided sure knew how to involve their colleagues.   

7. NatWest Group: Mission Possible  

The story: Last year, a new piece of government legislation meant NatWest Group had to change the way it authenticated all 7 million of its customers, shifting to a new 2-step system. For NatWest’s 28k Personal Banking colleagues, that meant not only getting to grips with the new regulations but also supporting customers through the change. It was a huge task. The Comms team knew they needed to do something special, we worked with them to grab colleagues’ attention through a Virtual Reality game called ‘Mission Possible’ 

Colleagues would don special VR headsets to enter a new virtual world, using gaze technology to earn points, avoid obstacles and compete against each other. The VR game helped the team achieve a massive 94% of the whole year’s goal in just six months, while also helping NatWest Group increase customer app transactions by nearly 30%. 

Why we love it: The Mission Possible VR game was a totally new and exciting way for colleagues to learn. Not only has engagement increased, but colleagues now actually look forward to the next game!  

8. Unilever: Unmuting the silence on domestic violence  

The story: During lockdown, cases of domestic violence grew by 20 per cent worldwide. So, Unilever, a FMCG with 150k colleagues, wanted to address this concern by creating ‘Unmute: End the silence against domestic violence’. Launching around International Women’s Day, the campaign featured Unilever chief executive Alan Jope holding a virtual global town hall meeting, a LinkedIn Live with #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke, and a host of toolkits and training.  

The event attracted a record 6,000 staff in the town hall, and 200 employees accessed Unilever’s domestic violence services in the five weeks following launch.  

Why we love it: Unilever recognised its duty of care to staff and took their company’s internal policy to a global, external audience. Sparking conversation across the FMCG sector and creating a wave across the industry.   

Feeling inspired?  

We know we are! From VR games to vlogging, if you’re ready to take your internal comms campaign to the next level – we’re here to help. Engaging employees through creativity is what makes us tick, so get in touch with us for ideas to approach your next internal comms challenge.  

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