Our top picks: the 10 best internal communications and employee engagement case studies

In our quest to deliver internal communication campaigns which excite, engage and drive productivity, we at McCann Synergy talk to brands, attend events and devour best practice employee engagement on a global scale.

There’s always something to learn from a company using a creative approach to their internal communications. Here’s our evolving collection of the top ten most inspiring examples.
Just Eat consolidates comms and celebrates purpose

Heard at: PR Week Strategic Internal Communications Conference 

The gist: Just Eat is a FTSE 100 company with 3,600 employees, 112,000 restaurant partners, 100+ cuisine types and over 27 million customers. Internal communications was once seen as a side task for the marketing team, with little resource and no dedicated employees. Anyone could send any email to the whole company any time they wanted: a 9am strategic announcement from the CEO could be followed by a 9.01am email from reception about a broken toilet. Communications desperately needed to be consolidated. An internal comms function was put in place to keep people informed and help bring all comms together in a way that engaged employees. Just Eat's Head of Internal Communications, Mark Tittle, recognises the importance of keeping comms relevant and isn't afraid to question the necessity of every piece of communication that they send out. His belief that internal communications should start with great stories means that the team's updates are tailored and targeted, and every employee sees something relevant to them on all channels regularly. Just Eat now sees 46,000 monthly hits on its intranet and received a positivity rating of 79% for the communications channels. A clear channel strategy allows the internal communications team to make updates structured and consistent and they understand the importance of measuring engagement too.

Why we love it: Just Eat's internal communications team is now an established and vital function of the organisation. Their commitment to storytelling in communications is something we're big advocates of at McCann Synergy and we love how they segment their comms appropriately for different audiences to avoid comms fatigue. Read the conference notes for the full internal communication case study


Aviva creates a wellbeing strategy with impact

Heard at: Employee Engagement in Financial Services Conference

The gist: With over 20 years' experience in driving employee engagement and culture change for organisations, Katherine Billingham-Mohamed from Aviva knows a thing or two about wellbeing in the workplace. Creating Wellbeing@Aviva, a suite of products, advice and support to help people in the business stay healthy, and to look after them when they fall sick, has had a major impact on employee engagement at Aviva. Using data and insight from all levels of the organisation combined with a holistic approach, recognising that people are complex and engagement looks different for everyone, has resulted in a 14% increase on employee engagement and a wellbeing strategy built from honesty, openness and a bottom-up approach. 

Why we love it: Genuine engagement has to involve employee insight; giving people a voice and input when creating a wellbeing strategy will help to make it authentic and effective. Aviva recognised the importance of getting views from 'on the ground', rather than creating the strategy for wellbeing in the boardroom. Check out the full case study.


Brighton and Hove Albion lives its values 

Heard at: Employee Engagement Summit

The gist: Paul Barber, CEO of Brighton and Hove Albion, took to the stage at the Employee Engagement Summit to give an insightful talk about the opening of the new Amex stadium and what was done to ensure that the club had a strong relationship with the local area. Paul and his team came up with four key values based on feedback from employees, fans, customers and stakeholders. Everyone at the club is dedicated to the values of treating people well, exceeding expectations, aiming high and making every experience special. The values extend to every employee at Brighton and Hove Albion: from premiere league players, to the car park attendant who works a few hours on a Saturday, as long as they are living the values everyday, everyone at the club enjoys the same benefits, including high-performance meals on breaks and bonuses. There's no area of the club where the values can't be seen or felt and they give everyone a benchmark to work to through regular internal communication. As the gay capital of the UK, Brighton is diverse, inclusive and welcoming. Brighton and Hove Albion wants this warm welcome to be felt at every match, even by the away fans! When Newcastle played Brighton, the club got Newcastle Brown Ale in as a drink for the fans, to make them feel special and included. 

Why we love it: Values-driven businesses are often the most successful, and it's clear that at Brighton and Hove Albion the values have been embedded well, dictating how employees approach every element of their work. Informing training, D&I, recruitment, policies and reward, these strong values are vital to lead and inspire employees. Take a look at the full case study 


TalkTalk invigorates employee engagement through a relocation

Heard at: PR Week Strategic Internal Communications Conference 

The gist: When TalkTalk relocated 500 London-based colleagues to join the rest of the organisation in Manchester, engagement scores went down. The internal communication team had to make sure they were looking after London colleagues whilst protecting and engaging employees in other locations too. Speaking to people about their options and providing regular internal communications as soon as the relocation was announced helped to make the process smoother for any employees involved. From taking colleagues on a tour of the North West as potential residents, to offering help with housing and school moves, this involved support across the full range of challenges  that can arise when moving cities.  Throwing a 'Great Big London Thank You Party' was a chance to celebrate and thank everyone and showed people that the organisation genuinely cared about how the change would impact them. 

Why we love it: TalkTalk approached a huge change in the organisation in a way that was supportive and sympathetic to those affected. Communications from the outset meant that employees felt informed and consulted throughout the process and they were offered help with the relocation through each stage of it. Check out more details in the conference notes


Skyscanner commits to tearing down internal communication barriers

Heard at: Internal Communications Conference

The gist: Skyscanner, a travel comparison website with over 9,000 visitors a month and 1,300 employees globally, is growing very quickly. Maintaining its fun, 'buzzy' culture has been challenging throughout growth, with 7 different time zones, 64 nationalities and 40 languages to consider. Using a selection of digital tools, the internal communications team has created a network across the globe, enabling people across time zones to communicate through video conferencing, Slack, an Intranet and weekly online 'town halls'. 

Why we love it: A focus on face-to-face and building relationships, even with people in different locations, has had a strong impact on Skyscanner's culture. Over a million messages are sent via Slack each month and communication across time zones can help to build common ground and shared interests. This considerate and flexible approach has helped foster good links across all teams at the organisation and has meant that the culture has been maintained despite rapid growth. For more details on this, check out the full case study


Asda builds resilience in its leaders

Heard at: Driving Change Conference

The gist: Craig Whaites, Head of Leadership and Learning at Asda, is on a quest to ensure that Asda's leaders are the most capable, diverse and successful in their industry. With the changing nature of retail making it harder than ever before to succeed, and political issues like Brexit causing shoppers to tighten their belts, Asda wants to continue saving its customers money and recruiting top talent in an increasingly competitive market. It's a turbulent and chaotic time to be a leader and Craig's team wanted to equip their people with the right skills to lead teams through change. They started with a 'leader first' approach, bringing them into changes early on and supporting them to implement new strategies. Craig's team believes in empowering leaders to succeed and recognises that good leaders are instrumental in creating productive and engaged employees.

Why we love it: Craig's session was funny and insightful, giving us a glimpse into the ever-changing world of retail giants. At McCann Synergy, we know how important leadership figures are in engaging employees, so love that Asda is taking this approach in their change communications. Check out the conference notes for the case study


Creating impact at PlayStation Europe

Heard at: Internal Communications Conference 

The gist: PlayStation had a firm belief that impactful internal communications aren't optional. In a crowded market place where people check their phones every 12 minutes, there's a real danger of internal communications getting lost. PlayStation needed to fight fire with fire, pushing out messages that matched up with the sleek look of its external channels. With an intranet that was wildly out-of-date, lacked structure and had limited functionality, it was time for an update. PlayStation created and launched a new intranet called The Hub, making it easy to share company news, update employees and measure engagement. The new platform was designed to be close to the sort of tech people use in their personal time to make it more engaging and something that employees actually wanted to use. 

Why we love it: Giving people innovative tech to keep up to date with company news improves employee engagement and makes sure that messages land well, with impact. PlayStation found that after launching the intranet, every measurement metric in their Employee Opinion Survey at least doubled, proving the value of good digital communications, both externally and to internal audiences. See the full story in our conference notes


Travelex tackles complexities around trans issues in the workplace

Heard at: Diversity and Inclusion Conference 

The gist: In a global business like Travelex, it can be hard to know how to support trans people, particularly when being LGBTQ is a fireable offence in certain countries (Japan) and illegal in others (the Middle East). Half of trans people have hidden their identity at work for fear of discrimination, and Travelex wanted to combat this. By putting policies and clear internal communications in place, people were encouraged to support their trans colleagues. Travelex worked with NGOs to get insights and tips on how to support people, citing Stonewall as particularly helpful with guidance on wording and the correct terminology. A 'transitioning at work' policy based on feedback from trans colleagues ensures that procedures are in place to support people through what can be a difficult period of their lives. Having this kind of guidance in place can help to empower line managers to ask the right questions and be there for people who are transitioning in the workplace. 

Why we love it: James Haq-Myles gave us all some brilliant food for thought with this talk, assuring people that as long as conversations around trans issues are happening, the rest should follow. His top tip was that it's ok to get things wrong when it comes to this stuff, which is unknown territory for many people, as long as your intentions are good and you're willing to learn. It was an interesting topic to hear about at the D&I conference, and we're pleased to see these sorts of issues being addressed as a recognised employee engagement topic . Take a look at the full conference notes for more insights


Driving energy and excitement for change at Sovereign Housing Association

Heard at: PR Week Strategic Internal Communications Conference

The gist: Our very own Rhiannon Stroud and Olly Whitman took to the stage at 2019's PR Week Strategic Internal Comms Conference to talk about using creativity to make change internal communications exciting and engaging. When Sovereign Housing Association merged with Spectrum Housing Group in 2016, it wanted to ensure people were at the heart of that change. Using four key principles, Sovereign made sure that all employees felt involved and excited about the change. Sovereign embraced change well, through a compelling narrative, manager engagement and role modelling change to all of its people. And the narrative of 'On Our Way' demonstrates the ongoing journey  of change they were on. 'Sofa, so good', a Gogglebox-style TV show which gave employees a fun way to talk about how they felt about the changes has continued to evolve thanks to feedback from employees and Sovereign's residents. The show is now into its fourth season and includes trades people as well as office-based employees. 

Why we love it: We loved working with Sovereign on this, and it's great seeing how they're continuing to embrace change and bring employees along on the transformational journey. The project has gone on to win awards for its innovation and use of VR and has been widely praised in the industry. Take a look at the full PR Week conference notes for more.  


Honest Burgers maintains its culture with Workplace

Heard at: PR Week Strategic Internal Communications Conference 

The gist: Honest Burgers is a burger restaurant which is trying to disrupt the casual dining industry. With its own butchery and chips made fresh on-site everyday, Honest wanted employees to feel engaged with the company's purpose and mission. The internal communications team see restaurant workers as the most important client in the business and is putting them first when it comes to employee engagement. Honest wanted to maintain the culture the founders had created when they started out, with a growing business of 38 restaurants around London and the UK. Daniel Davis, Engagement and Communications Manager at Honest Burgers, spoke about how culture isn't built on a spreadsheet; it's not created in a boardroom or by a marketing team. Culture comes from storytellers within the business, those people who are at the grass-roots, working on the frontline in Honest restaurants. Daniel's team introduced Workplace to provide a platform for the company's culture to continue growing. Everyone can log on, stay updated and communicate with each other across the business. 

Why we love it: Honest Burgers proved that if people are given the right platforms and opportunities, they will champion an organisation's culture and drive effective internal communications without it having to come from the top down. Genuine workplace culture comes from the people who are at the coalface, living out the day-to-day of an organisation's reality and Honest has found a way of celebrating theirs online. See the full story in our conference notes


So there we have it, our latest selection of brilliant case studies.. 

We’re always looking to update this page with the latest  the world of internal communications and employee engagement has to offer. If you've got a favourite case study you'd love to share with us, why not tweet us? Or if you're looking to up your internal comms and engagement game this year, get in touch - we'd love to chat about how we can help. 


Image © Brighton & Hove Albion