13 January 2016

The best internal communications case studies of 2015

We love a good conference, and last year we attended more than our fair share. Read on to discover our favourite inspirational stories from 2015.

1. HSBC’s Shut Up and Listen Programme tells senior leaders to put a sock in it

  Where we heard about it: Melcrum Summit, October 2015 The gist: There was a feeling of mistrust amongst HSBC’s employees, and the internal comms team wanted to open up a communications line between employees and the senior management team. The HSBC Exchange Programme (unofficially called the ‘Shut Up and Listen’ programme) gave employees (in groups of no more than 10 people) access to leaders to discuss anything and everything from compensation structures to the staff canteen. Why we love it: Leaders are not allowed to interrupt, counteract or correct. Their only remit is to listen, take notes and update an online platform after the event. There’s plenty of example of these types of initiatives out there, but it’s these rules that make this one stand out!   Read the full case study here.


2. Purpose is everything for global carpet tile company Interface

  Where we heard about it: Melcrum Summit, October 2015 The gist: Interface is a global carpet tile business with 3,500 employees and sales in 110 countries. In the early 1990s, the late founder of Interface, Ray Anderson changed the strategic direction of the company towards one of sustainability. This move, which was seen as radical at the time now drives every single business decision from products to processes and attracts employees who are equally passionate about the environment. But it has not been without its challenges; there was a 40% share drop when the announcement was first made. But Anderson stuck with what he knew was right and Interface is now one of the “Most Admired Companies in America” and listed in the “100 Best Companies to Work For.” Why we love it: This isn’t just some fluffy words or mission statement, Interface’s sustainability mission influences every single thing that the business does – from the people it employs to the products it develops. Now that’s what we call purpose.   Read the full case study here.  

3. Odeon & UCI Cinemas invests in employer brand

  Where we heard about it: PR Week Strategic Internal Communications Conference (it’s actually our project – but that’s not too cheeky to include is it? It’s a good one, we promise!) The gist: 2015 was the year of cinema with the launch of massive movies including Bond, Hunger Games, Fifty Shades of Grey and Star Wars. ODEON needed to differentiate itself from competitors and knew that this started with its 9,000 employees across Europe. We worked with ODEON to launch a brand new vision and values, which were rolled out via a 12-week programme of activities. With these firmly embedded it was time to launch the new employer brand using our five-step process: Research, Defining and Establishing an EVP, Creative and Design, Mapping the Employee Journey and Measuring Results. Why we love it: ODEON & UCI Cinemas truly understand the meaning of employer brand and how it is much, much more than just attraction and recruitment. They’ve prioritised projects and are rolling out the new brand in a measured and sustainable way. We’re excited to be on the journey with them!   Read the full case study here.  

4. Adidas proves that it’s okay to fail

  Where we heard: BOC Conference, March 2015 The gist: Adidas used an employee survey to ask employees ‘Do we listen’?. People said: You’re hearing us but not listening. Adidas sprung into action and the comms team put a programme together of director visits, team briefs, personalised letters, conferences, videos and email bulletins. But it didn’t work! Adidas had failed to research and find out HOW people wanted to be talked to. 94% of the workforce is Gen Y so the answer was a mobile app, which could be regularly updated with content of interest. Why we love it: Despite issues around red tape and bureaucracy, the team ran a pilot and championed the power of this new technology. We love this proactiveness and the acceptance that sometimes a new approach is what’s needed, despite investment in other solutions.   Read the full case study here.  

5. Barclays Digital Eagles goes from zero to hero

  Where we heard about it: Customer Engagement Summit, November 2015 The gist: Barclays realised its staff didn’t know how to use the company app or iPads, meaning they couldn’t effectively help customers with the technology. Tackling the challenge head on, Barclays decided to transform itself into the most digitally-savvy UK retail bank. How? By introducing the Digital Eagles. These employees are fully trained in helping customers to learn not only how to use the Barclays app, but how to get online and get the most out of the internet. But the help didn’t stop there. Barclays added free wifi in branches, set up Tea and Teach sessions, seconded retail and bank managers onto the digital team, set up a partnership with Age UK and introduced Code Playgrounds. Phew! Why we love it: This focus and ambition resulted in staggering results including 18 Digital Eagles becoming 18,000, 4,500 Tea and Teach sessions in one year (the original aim was 500) and 4m mobile customers in just 18 months (gaining 4m online banking customers took 13 years!). But most of all, employees are engaged and love their new roles and responsibilities.   Read the full case study here.  

6. Virgin Trains trade intranet for Yammer

  Where did we hear? SMiLE London, November 2015 The gist: Virgin Trains sits at the crossroads of a traditional transport company and a dynamic Branson-owned brand. Management wanted more two-way communications with its team, but the existing intranet did not allow for this kind of collaboration. Virgin needed something new…and wasn’t going to do it by halves! It needed to be mobile compatible to allow remote workers access, but not break the bank. The answer? Yammer, which has since helped to inject a bit of ‘Virgin-ness’. A launch campaign included videos with humorous Alpaca animations, bringing to life the Virgin culture but also giving guidance on governance of the new ESN. Ambassadors were recruited across the business and given in-depth training so they could help their peers. Why we love it: While some brands are integrating Yammer into their intranets, Virgin Trains has got rid of its intranet completely. Now that’s what we call brave! The move completely changed the IC function, which is now all about user generated content.   Read the full case study here.  

7. Clarks showcases the power of video to bring people together

  Where we heard about it: CIPR Inside Conference, October 2015 The gist: Global footwear brand Clarks is headquartered in the sleepy Somerset town of Street, with a 1.5 billion turnover and four regions globally. Following a restructure, Clarks developed a 5-10 year plan to become a truly global brand, instantly recognised worldwide. But an employee survey showed that 60% of employees didn’t understand what being a global brand meant, or the role they played in it. Clarks needed a campaign that would inspire and stimulate global conversations. The solution? A stunning film made for and by Clarks’ people. Why we love it: Clarks moved away from the traditional ‘piece to camera’ and the in-house design and creative team created props, with employees taking starring roles as voiceovers. The roll out made good use of the tools available too – both the intranet for office-based employees and in-store DVDs for retailers.   Read case study here.  

8. Touchstone puts diversity first


Where we heard about it: Employee Engagement Conference September 2015 The gist: Touchstone is a West Yorkshire mental health charity with 120 employees. The charity was having challenges internally with its LGBT workforce and discovered that some employees were uncomfortable about revealing their sexuality. Proving the importance of tackling issues head on, Touchstone moved the issue up the board’s agenda and set the clear objective to make the charity a Stonewall Diversity Champion by 2015. The message? If you don’t like it…then Touchstone isn’t the place for you. Why we love it: The clear objective was met head on and Touchstone became a Stonewall Diversity Champion well ahead of its 2015 target. This kind of focus and determination is great to see from a charity.   Read the full case study here.  

What were your favourite case studies?


That’s just a few of the great case studies that we have had the chance to hear over the past 12 months. But what were your favourite? If you’d like to know what industry events are coming up, make sure you check out the event listings on our Internal Communications Hub.  

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