Consumer Comms and the Creative Solution

21 November 2019

Jeremy Couper-Crane

As internal communications specialists one of our mantras is to think of the employee as a consumer. At the start of every project we’re thinking first and foremost about the end user; what do they need to know and what’s the best and most engaging way for them to receive that message? When answering that last question, in almost every case creativity is key.

We all consume creative marketing content every day, whether that’s on the high street, on public transport, commercials on TV and radio or banners on websites and emails. We expect to see it and if it engages with something inside us then we’re likely to react in a positive way. It calls us to action, to react, to participate, to be involved and to buy. It can make us smile and it can make us feel good about ourselves. We know it works. It’s a multi-billion pound industry. So why should the way we communicate to employees be any different? It’s no less important.

We expect more

Employees today have much higher expectations of all aspects of their employers. They want to know they can trust in their leaders to help deliver a positive work environment and opportunity for growth and career development. It’s a challenging landscape for employers to negotiate as it can often mean significant change in corporate practice but it’s in their interests to keep up with trends so they can attract and retain the very best talent. Executives and leaders know employees who feel valued and empowered are the beating heart of a successful business. The 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report demonstrated the value placed on improving employee experience, with 84% of respondents rating it important and 28% classing it as an urgent issue.

So how can we, as communications experts, help businesses deliver an optimal employee experience? The answer may well lie in the creative way we, as consumers of modern technology, express ourselves in our lives outside of work.

Harness the power of social media

These days we lay bare so much of our lives for all to see. We “check in” to restaurants, bars and holiday resorts, post pictures and stories of amazing experiences, nights out, cute pets, new clothes and new babies. People are doing whatever makes them happy and they’re shouting about it. Why wouldn’t we want to provide an experience that makes employees happy enough to want to shout about it too? Well, of course that’s exactly what we want to do. And if we bear our consumer/employee in mind, there’s no reason why we can’t.

Stitch recently provided a communications solution for Weir, a vast organisation who deliver engineering solutions all over the world.  They were launching a scheme that promised free shares to every single employee over a period of three years. The plan, known as Weir Sharebuilder, was promoted less on its financial credentials but more as a way for every employee to feel part of the company they work for and to do their best work so they could all share in the company’s success. The key to global engagement was to create a strong campaign name and strapline, “building our legacy together”, as well as a range of clear communications that would reach everyone, regardless of geography or financial literacy and which would make employees feel valued and part of something important.

And it worked. The company held a worldwide Sharebuilder Day to celebrate the launch of the plan. People stopped work for a moment to enjoy themselves together, dressing up, baking, and posting photos and comments about their excitement at being part of this moment on multiple social media platforms.

There’s always a creative answer

Of course it’s not all about creating a culture of internet humble bragging (though that’s never a bad thing!) Sometimes that’s just not going to be possible. But it should be all about putting ourselves in the position of the employee and working from that perspective to inform our creative plans and actions. A lot of what we do, on the face of it, might not seem to provide a canvas for creativity, but that’s just because we’re not used to thinking about it in the right way. As employees we’re traditionally used to receiving links to annual reports, or long emails from senior managers filled with terminology that really doesn’t mean an awful lot to most of us, rendering the messaging somewhat redundant. It’s the age old problem of employers knowing they have to communicate with their employees but not knowing how construct and deliver that message in the most effective way.

This takes us back to thinking of the employee as a consumer. If you receive an email from your bank about a special mortgage offer, it’ll probably feature some sort of aspirational imagery and clear headings with links to more information and deliberate calls to action. It’s designed to pique your interest and inspire you to find out more. So it makes sense to communicate with employees in a similar way. People respond to what feels familiar to them. If we have to promote the launch of a new employee share plan of course it’s important to touch on the nitty gritty of the plan detail. But for that message to resonate think creatively about what being part of that plan could mean to an employee. Associate aspirational images with the long term benefits of saving money each month; the perks of being a shareholder in the company you work for; having an ability to profit from the company’s success.

Happy employees make happy employers

We know that in business we value our customers above all else. Organisations go to great lengths to provide customers with the best user experience possible, whether that’s in store or online. But for employees the story is still different. And it shouldn’t be. Employees make our businesses work. When they feel happy, valued and connected to their workplace it stands to reason they will stay with you, do better work and create a better working environment that will spread out across the business exponentially.

Harnessing new and creative ways of enhancing the employee experience will benefit your business for the long term. Employees are what makes businesses work. Employees who feel valued, empowered and connected to their work life are what make businesses work better.

Talk to us if you want to discuss creative ways to connect with your employees