Case Study in Employee Communications: Not-so-average announcement yields not-so-average results
We hold an annual employee event each year called the H’Oscars where we celebrate our successes, provide a forum for learning and collaboration, and recognize the contributions of top talent. This event brings together the entire US organization and some of our international employees in one offsite location for 2-3 days.
It’s one of the most talked about topics amongst employees (and even non-employees who catch wind!), and everyone is always anxious to find out where it is going to take place each year.
About two months ago, I received a random email from two employees who had an idea for a video about this event. I could tell they were excited about the concept and had put some thought and creativity into their suggestion. I was grateful they reached out and appreciated the level of engagement and drive behind the request. There was nothing I could do with it at the time, but I tucked it away in my inbox to revisit when planning was underway.
About a month and a half later, we were ready to announce the date and location of our 2013 event. That email I received back in April immediately came to mind.
Our typical approach would have been to share a “Save the Date” at a company meeting, in the newsletter, maybe in an executive blog, possibly a company-wide email, maybe even a video of our CEO announcing the location in our global enterprise online community.
OR…we could hand the responsibility off to two employees with a BIG idea and have them run with it!
We chose the latter.
We met with the employees one time, briefed them on the event, and told them we have two objectives for this announcement:
- Share the location and date.
- Build excitement.
They took it from there. Below is the result. It speaks for itself.
The video was posted to a Corporate News group in our online employee community and also featured in a teaser on the global home page. We saw an immediate spike in visits.
- Unique logins increased that day by approximately 30% compared to a typical Monday.
- We continued to see increased logins over the course of three days by approximately 10%.
- Views on that post were 4x greater than what we typically see on other posts in that group.
- We received more comments and “likes” on that post than we typically get. Below are a few examples of the comments.
“World changerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs…… I was rolling… this is awesome.”
“I. Died. This was great!”
“This was hilarious, I literally chocked on my drink, was not expecting that at all! Great job!”
“Too funny. Just sad I’ll have to miss H’Oscars, esp. if this is any indication of what it will be like this year!”
Redistribution of responsibilities.
Aside from the high numbers of employees who voluntarily “chose” to consume the message; active engagement in our employee community; and the buzz this had generated; we also gained the added benefit of reallocating work typically done by the H’Oscars planning team. No CEO scripts to write, slides to design, or emails to draft.
By bringing “fresh blood” into the task of making this announcement, we also inherently rejuvenated the creativity and enthusiasm that went into it.
Why was this hugely successful?
1. Because employees are smart, talented, and want to contribute.
Do not take their ideas for granted. If you did your hiring right, you have talented team members bursting at the seams to contribute positively toward your business.
Listen to your employees. Outwardly demonstrate your confidence in their abilities. Empower them to take action.
2. Because employees pay attention to their colleagues.
Your general employee population is too far removed from the C-suite and possibly from the corporate communications team (depending on the size of your organization) to feel closely connected to the messages they send. This is an ongoing challenge for corporate communicators and executive leadership. However, they are very connected to the team members sitting to the left and right of them. Tap into these spheres of influence and informal internal networks as part of your communication strategy.
The two employees in this video were “real”, front-line team members with no direct ties to corporate communications, HR, or executive leadership. Get different faces and voices out there every now and then. People like to hear from those they can relate to.
3. Because it struck a personal cord with its audience.
For those of you who don’t know, the background music to the lyrics in the video is from a song called Regulate by Warren G and Nate Dogg that was released in the summer of 1994 and featured on the Above the Rim soundtrack. The average age of our workforce is approximately 32. That would mean that the majority of our workforce was around 13 years old when this song was released. I don’t care what “clique” you were part of in the mid-90’s…if you were a teenager in 1994, this song resonates with you.
Know your audience.
4. Because it was easy and enjoyable to consume.
The average person’s attention span in 2012 was 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. This presents quite a challenge to anyone with a message to share. If we wanted to generate some buzz and excitement for this year’s H’Oscars, we needed to grab people’s attention and keep it short and sweet. Brief videos are a great channel to use to accomplish this objective.
What new communication strategies and channels have you used recently to engage your employees in your messaging? Please share!