Putting employees first

On Wednesday 7th November, over 150 professionals gathered in the Oval in London. And what a bright and  beautiful day it was.

Max McKeown was the keynote speaker and brought the room to life with his vibrant discussion on strategy. We all need to let go of the old to embrace the new if we’re going to help our organisations reach ‘bloody, beautiful paradise’. Great examples of Microsoft still not understanding what Apple do and still adding keyboards to tablets, and how we can achieve so much more when the doers and thinkers get together.

The day swiftly moved on to the detail with Spencer Fox from Reputation Institute sharing ‘The alignment factor’ and the four steps to achieving organisation alignment, know before you go, find support and resistance, action plan and track your progress.

Then Klavs Valskov discussed turning the tide of fortune for Maersk when faced with the realization that it had to change to survive, when only 50% of containers arrived on time and the organisation was harbouring numerous mini empires. Kalvs and his team helped the organisation steer its way through with expert communications and created the ‘industry challenge’ aiming to affect change across the industry.

Nita Clarke and David MacLeod took to the stage to share their news on the Employee Engagement Taskforce.  Why is there a taskforce now? The old way just doesn’t work anymore. Bankers, politicians, journalists and bosses are just not trusted any more, there is no more deference. Add to this 70% of jobs being knowledge based jobs. So, if we are to survive we have to release the creative capacity of people. Employee voice can be the best guard of organizational reputation.

Lisa Betteridge and Anna O’Connor talked us through the ‘right time railway’ from Harkness Kennett and Network Rail. Aiming to bring complex and often converse organisations together to achieve the same aim – get the train in on time. A difficult communications challenge bringing many different people together was tackled with traditional methods like roadshows. It was refreshing for track engineers etc to meet senior managers and pose their questions but even more rewarding to have a reply –  a real conversation.

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle and ‘why’ formed the basis of Jenni Wheller’s case study on employee engagement. She gave eight top tips for successful engagement, have fun, take people with you, be the expert, talk their language, face-to-face is best channel, use an integrated toolkit, network inside and out, and explain why.

Mike Grafham from Yammer explained how the tool can be a great support to face-to-face communication and can also be a great place for the doers and thinkers to get together.  He highlighted the importance of comms taking ownership and not IT as then it can become too techy.

Next up Michael Silverman talked us through how Unilever used digital and data visualization to get to grips with the enormous amount of data and feedback you can get from large organisations presenting a huge range of opinions. Data visualization works as a user interface and makes the information easier to manage and act upon.

Rachel Miller challenged us with a tempting envelope: ‘do not open’ it said. But like children in a sweet shop, how can we all resist something we know is there but shouldn’t have? So how can we expect employees to resist the drive to use social media if we (as employers) say it’s not allowed? Of course they can’t, and as employers we shouldn’t say no. But instead we should embrace it, use it, live with it, and learn from it. Social media platforms are business tools, not distractions.

Denise Cox discussed email being the ‘no. 1’ comms tool, allowing employees to scan, share communicate and share as they please in a more targeted and managed way.

Chris Elmitt told us to harness those smartphones. With 70% of smartphones owned by individuals there’s a huge opportunity for employers to allow their employees to access their work systems through a BYOD strategy. Loss of control is the biggest fear for business and events are the ideal place to start as they are smaller and more contained. It can help as a digital assistant, a place for interactive content and for audience engagement.

Lastly Ralph Cochrane gave us shining examples of the use of crowdsourcing with big brands Coca Cola and Pepsi. Using video with Pepsi films, the company wanted to get back to ‘the new generation’ and Coca Cola used video when launching different sized bottles. The critical tip from Ralph was find out who you’re talking to, it’s only then that you’ll earn their trust.

Check out the live blog from the day here  http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/newsroom/live-blog

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