13 February 2018

The 10 best internal communications case studies of 2017

Over the past year we travelled all over the UK to hear inspirational stories from brands engaging employees, impacting their workforce and creating business change.

Here are some of our favourite stories from 2017…


1. Experian takes TED approach to unifying values and culture

Where we heard about it: BOC Conference, March 2017 The gist: When new Head of Internal Communications, Richard Donovan joined, the IC team had never before come together to understand the goals they wanted to achieve. They needed to enable communication that inspires employees across the business. We worked with Experian to unify people from their different markets, collecting stories from around the business to communicate Experian’s values and culture to its workforce of over 17,000. This culminated in ‘Experian LIVE’ – a TED style event to create connections between leaders and everyone else in the organisation, and Experian TV was introduced – a mobile experience to showcase stories, interviews and how-to guides from across the business. Why we love it: Bringing teams closer together is a challenge for every business, but sharing stories across such a large and geographically diverse workforce can make it more difficult. Experian took the ‘if it ain’t broke, fix it anyway’ approach as a chance to freshen up internal comms, producing sharp, snackable content for the team to engage with on any device. Read the full case study here.  

2. Virgin Trains drives ‘conversational leadership’ with connected platform

Where we heard about it: BOC Conference, March 2017 The gist: Virgin Trains’s workforce is simultaneously getting younger and older – leading to a clash between those either joining because of the brand, or because they love railways. Virgin Trains wanted to encourage more face to face communications between leaders and employees, something Richard Branson calls ‘conversational leadership’. With all employees having access to company smartphones, Virgin Trains turned the home screen into their hub, creating an internal app store called “amazing apps” with 20 different apps each serving a specific purpose for curated information and guidance, all hinging on Yammer – the secondary, supporting IC channel. From there, leaders are required to continue conversations face to face. Why we love it: Not afraid to shake things up, Virgin Trains now uses its new suite of apps to measure individual impact. What’s more, they run “Yammer for Leaders” workshops which everyone in the SLT must attend and the company has shunned the annual survey for real-time pulse checks to measure employee happiness over employee engagement. Bravo. Read the full case study here.  

3. Royal London proves the ROI of employee engagement

Where we heard about it: Engaging Employees Conference, November 2017 The gist: Recognising the power of anecdotal feedback Royal London wanted a formalised, robust way to capture and act on this feedback across the business. To do this, Royal London created a culture pod, a cross-functional group of volunteers from every level and area of the business. Their mandate was to evolve the old survey, canvassing the views and opinions of colleagues to develop ideas and present recommendations to the Group Executive Committee. After more than 50% of the company contributed, several employee recommendations were approved. Why we love it: Royal London gives every individual a voice, which has led to a real impact on the bottom line. Positive customer comments and engagement both increased, teams who felt engaged believed in their leaders, and crucially, new business growth was up 28%, funds under management up 18% and customer satisfaction increased 10.5 points. Read the full case study here.  

4. Thomson Reuters re-energises innovation with #dare2disrupt

Where we heard about it: Engaging Employees Summit, May 2017 The gist: Innovation within Thomson Reuters had become stunted, there wasn’t a strong enough strategic push to innovate or a defined ownership of the innovation message. The challenge was to get employees to fall in love with innovation. Thomson Reuters came up with #dare2disrupt a campaign aimed to get the business comfortable with innovation. It focused on three main areas:

  1. Cultivating innovation
  2. Collaboration between teams
  3. Creating and disrupting

Several tactics were implemented to bring the team together, including regular team lunches and inspiration sessions, walls set up online and physically to encourage staff to leave an inspirational message for their colleagues as well as coder dojos, startup bootcamps and innovation challenges. Why we love it: Thomson Reuters clearly went all in with innovation, implementing a mix of messages and tactics to get the entire workforce engaged. With 50,000 employees globally, wrapping a campaign that is open to all is no mean feat. They’ve already seen an upturn in the number of innovation project requests submitted across the business, so they’re well on their way to creating an innovation mindset within the business. Read the full article here.  

5. Benoy sparks ideas with Firestarters

Where we heard about it: Employer Brand Management Conference, December 2017 The gist: Benoy, the award winning international firm of architects, knew their clients wanted a truly global firm to meet their equally global needs. The company needed to change – and knew their people were fundamental to making change happen. To do this they created a series of brand champions across the business, The ‘Firestarters’, with the idea of bringing people together within the organisation, spark fires and create something much more powerful. They put together a roadmap for delivery of the new employer brand to coincide with the company’s 70th birthday, set up a volunteering campaign to recruit Firestarters and held a series of workshops across the business where the Firestarters were equipped with materials needed to go back to their studios to generate energy and communicate new behaviours and ideas. Why we love it: Lots of organisations use a group of people champions to help support colleagues and spread the company gospel but Benoy went a step further, creating real ownership for their Firestarters to help create business change by instilling innovation behaviours globally. We love the name Firestarters too! Read the full case study here.  

6. Siemens captures cool with its Future Makers

Where we heard about it: Employer Brand Management Conference, December 2017 The gist: Siemens had a reputation for being serious, old, lacking innovation and generally ‘not cool’ from both current employees and external talent. There was a desire to be seen as young, vibrant and diverse to become attractive to new talent. This campaign was all about closing the gap, retaining and recruiting a new wave of top talent – the Future Makers. Posters were old hat, they needed to do something bigger and provide a powerful way for their people to share their stories of what the real Siemens is like. To kick things off they flipped the hierarchy of their brand colours for instant visual impact. Following this, they created an app that allows current colleagues and new starters to transport themselves around the world of Siemens, highlighting real employee stories from around the world in 3D so they can be experienced in VR. Since August 2017 the videos have been viewed nearly 100,000 times, 98% of survey respondents say they understand more about Siemens and 98% feel a renewed sense of excitement in their work. Why we love it: It’s easy to tell your audience what life is like at your organisation, but it’s much more powerful to show them. We love Siemens’s use of simple VR videos to share stories across the business in a new and interesting way. With a reinvigorated workforce, it seems to have done the trick! Read the full case study here.  

7. GE ‘starts with why’ to give comms an authentic voice

Where we heard about it: Employer Brand Management Conference, December 2017 The gist: Introduced four years ago to combat what potential candidates were reading before interview, GE’s brand ambassador programme was launched to help give a real reflection of what life is like at a company which provides 25% of the world’s energy. They started with LinkedIn and created a new narrative – changing the LinkedIn content focus from just posting jobs to encouraging teams to make connections, guiding teams on how to tell their ‘why’. Using a suite of digital tools, weekly blogs, mailers and a learning portal, employees were encouraged to become ambassadors and share content from across the business. Since the programme started GE has seen an 800% increase in applications – more than their Superbowl advert generated! Why we love it: With over 350,000 employees, getting 75% of your workforce on LinkedIn is no mean feat, and with a greater insight into what candidates are interested in hearing about, GE can now optimise comms efficiently. To top it off, the ambassador programme has generated over $9m equivalent of paid social media advertising. That’s an impressive ROI! Read the full case study here.  

8. Argos creates sales through service mindset for Black Friday

Where we heard about it: Driving Change Conference, September 2017 We wouldn’t be very good at our jobs if there wasn’t some Synergy-related involvement in this list now would we. Synergy Director Gemma graced the stage at the Driving Change Conference in London to tell the story of how we helped Argos create a service-led approach to sales for its customer management centres in the lead up to its peak period in 2016. The gist: Argos’s team of over 2,000 customer management centre colleagues focused largely on customer service; dealing with issues that arose as a result of buying products, but had limited involvement in the sales process. Spotting an opportunity for colleagues to drive more opportunities to cross-sell, upsell and substitute sell, Argos wanted colleagues to drive more revenue through value-add conversations, as well as having the confidence to solve customer issues first time, across both phone call and new digital service channels. With only a few weeks until Black Friday, we put together ‘Be The Big Difference’ a four-week fast and focused campaign designed to show all colleagues that no matter how small the task, it can make the biggest difference to customers and colleagues every single day. We had five key things to communicate:

  1. Service changes – how the service is changing, and moving towards sales through service
  2. Role – mindset shift to sales through service, expectations, behaviours, empowerment and capability
  3. Knowledge – improve knowledge, information and training
  4. Digital – confidence, knowledge and training with new tools
  5. Managing uncertainty – keeping business as usual through a period of uncertainty surrounding an integration with Sainsbury’s

We themed each week, starting with Launch Week for managers to cascade the campaign to their teams, followed by; Knowledge Week – where team members could ask questions and test their new found knowledge with a quiz, Action Week – with a card game to match problems with solutions and Digital Week – sharing digital roadmaps and plans as well as a focus on knowledge sharing through Yammer and a Q&A with Argos’s digital champions. Argos had their best peak period ever with 98% of calls answered in less than 20 seconds, 71% of Team Leaders felt confident in delivering The Big Difference to their teams, NPS + 20 year-on-year and calls per order decreased 33% showing that their aim of resolving queries first time was working. Why we love it: We loved working with Argos on this campaign, with only a small window of opportunity, Argos went all in and their confidence in being able to make the change was certainly rewarded. For an in-depth look and more details on this campaign, drop us a message hello@mccannsynergy.com.uk  

9. Harrods takes data-driven approach to employee experience

Where we heard about it: Engaging Employees Summit, May 2017 The gist: Harrods want their brand to be known as straight forward, trusted and for treating customers as individuals. This applies to their people too, employees need to be authentically part of the brand and experience the brand at its best in order to do the same for customers. To do this, Harrods is developing its employee data capability, taking data from a variety of employee touch points to develop a deeper understanding of how engagement is impacting business performance. Their focus is on equipping employees to deliver the best customer experience. Initiatives like the customer loyalty programme drive 85% of transactions, with employees empowered and rewarded for going the extra mile, providing a personalised service for customers. For example one high-spending customer had a holiday coming up, so the Harrods employee booked him and his family on a diving course as a value-add in the customer relationship! Why we love it: By empowering its staff to understand customers on a very deep level, Harrods knows that the results come back in the shape of an industry-leading customer experience. Harrods’ commitment to its people has seen the company named as a ‘Best Company to Work For’ six years in a row, with employee turnover amongst the lowest in its peer group and employee engagement sitting at 80% – great stuff. Read the full article here.  

10. Co-op goes back to its roots to drive engagement

Where we heard about it: Engaging Employees Summit, May 2017 The gist: The Co-operative (Co-op) is owned by colleagues and individual members, meaning these members get a chance to have a say in how the company is run, but some were unsettled. Surveys showed they wanted the company to lead the way in how they treat people, pioneering products and services and embrace new tech and to shout about Co-op. To create an emotional connection between the company and colleagues, the brand went back to its roots, rebranding back to ‘Co-op’. The challenge now was to engage Co-op’s 54,000 employees through this change.To do this, #beingcoop was used as the employer brand, all about creating a workplace that celebrates difference, somewhere all feel responsible, valued, empowered and trusted to do the right thing. Back to being Co-op started with 90 min face to face sessions across 130 locations to communicate the change. These sessions mixed people up to integrate them with other departments and locations and were voluntary for staff. The results were great too. There was a £3.4m increase in average sales per store, ‘Back to being Co-op sessions’ averaged 77% attendance, £9m was generated for local causes, 81,000 hours of colleague engagement and 93% of members now strongly believe in the benefits of membership. Why we love it: Not afraid to be true to its values. Co-op really embraced its new employer brand and embedded it really well within the business. You can tell the employer brand really developed a change in how employees and members feel about the brand. We particularly love that one store manager learnt sign language to communicate with deaf customers. Respect! Read the full article here.  

What were your favourite case studies?

Did you see something you think should have made our list? Perhaps your organisation did something really special last year? Come and tell us on Twitter.

Similar Articles

9 February 2023

2023 predictions: Employee Experience takes the lead

On the back of a brilliant 12 months in 2022, and as a definite sign…


14 November 2022

How businesses are redefining workplace culture

Humanity has burst through the corporate layers and demanded its rightful place at the centre…


25 October 2022

“You won’t believe what happened at work today…!”

Work. It’s a major part of the conversations your employees have with friends and family…


26 September 2022

The REAL value of your Employer Value Proposition (EVP)

When Employer Value Propositions (EVPs) first gained popularity, they were often simply seen as a…