On the Mic: Anja Andersen from Mærsk

Anja Andersen On the Mic Employee Advocacy Maersk
Anja Andersen On the Mic Employee Advocacy Maersk

On the Mic: Anja Andersen from A.P. Møller - Mærsk

We are so happy to have Anja Andersen on the mic sharing what inspires her to work with employee communication. Anja is Senior Corporate Brand Manager, Transport & Logistics Division at A.P. Møller - Mærsk, the global transport and logistics company with multiple brands.

By: Solrun Sigfusdottir Øfjord, Communication Advisor (September 15, 2017)

Why do you find it exciting to work with employee communication?
Because people relate to people. It’s extremely interesting to work with and try to limit the gap between what is considered corporate brand communication and employee generated communication and content. This is where we need to be smarter as a corporate B2B brand on how we involve, engage and activate a global work force in more than 130 countries worldwide as ambassadors.

What was your latest success, and what made it successful?
We already now see great success in testing an employee advocacy program that we have been piloting this year, where 700 employees globally shared content directly through LinkedIn’s content hub Elevate. In three months, our employees reached 8.1 million people across our channels, which is more than the combined accounts of our brands in the same time frame.

What challenges do we face as employee communicators in the coming years?
The next generation of employees are the content makers. We need to let go of control and think about how we do fun, engaging and educational content. We will see a trend that employees are the new ‘channels’ of communication, as individuals and as employees. If people are engaged in an agenda they are willing to share content all around the clock from their own accounts.

Which exciting trends in employee communication would you like to pursue next?
Test and learn from new communication channels. Platforms come and go, and testing, adapting and thinking agile is key. It might not all work or succeed, but you need to be ready to learn fast and move on. We have recently tested a podcast. Here you can target people while they are on the go. Every day we are exposed to visual content, from smart phones, TV, computers, VR, and checking out visually is something we also need to account for as communicators. A channel like Snapchat is for sure also interesting for employee communication; content or stories generated from individual to individual.

What is best advice/tip to other employee communicators?
Be authentic and be honest in your communication. Good storytelling is key.

You can read more about Anja on her LinkedIn profile.

‘On the Mic’ is a series of blog posts that invite internal communication professionals to share their take on employee communication, their view on trends within the field and what rocks their boat. Feel free to send us tips on who should be ‘On the Mic’ next.

Alien square storytelling video

What Alien can teach us about corporate video

Alien storytelling video
Alien storytelling video

What Alien can teach us about corporate videos

Credibility and empathy can be what makes us identify more with the Nostromo crew in the sci-fi classic Alien than our own CEO in a corporate video. But framing your corporate video just right, it can be as enthralling.

By: Lars Wittrock, Creative Advisor & Video Specialist (September 14, 2017)

Why do we sit at the edge of our seats, drenched in tension for two hours when the last survivor on a spaceship fights against an invincible alien – while we get bored and disinterested during a three-minute film about our own workplace? And how can Alien – a 37-year-old sci-fi horror movie – be more capturing and engaging than situations close by and relevant for our work lives?

The answer to the question appears in the intro: Alien is more credible and believable. Or rather: The people are more credible and believable. Through conflict, character development and dialogue, their challenges, successes and fears are depicted credibly and believably. We see them as real people with shortcomings, conflicts, and oily hair.

This results in identification and empathy as we co-live their frustration, suffering, and victories as our own – despite the fact that it all takes place on a spaceship.

The starting point and goals of a corporate film are of course different than those of a Hollywood production. But even when you have a badly lit conference room and a colleague who has not been on stage since 3rd grade instead of Ridley Scott’s 11-million-dollar budget, it is still possible to produce movies that create empathy and identification.

Here are five tips on how to create a convincing story about your company that will make an impression and convey messages and values successfully:

Speak with your own voice
Your employees are not actors and they cannot play themselves, so drop the manuscripts. Very few people manage to appear natural while reciting a manuscript from memory, or reading from a teleprompter. Create a relaxed atmosphere and a good framework for conversation, with a good interviewer who knows the purpose, core messages, and the topics you are going through. Let people use their own words to tell about their own experiences.

Instead of one-liners, you will be rewarded with authentic and credible results – because personality and commitment are more important than precision.

If you want full control of the text in your film, you may want to opt for an interview with the contributing employee speaking over a film clip. Drop any recorded manuscripts read by an actor in a sound studio. It will sound artificial, because that’s what it is.

Use natural light
Our reality is not illuminated with lamps and light panels. That is why situations and scenes will look arranged when illuminated with lamps. From the perspective of a film photographer, the quality of indoor light is often insufficient – this is why many photographers use artificial light.

It often works better – and is easier – to move the interviewer to a window, a light hall or a place with big windows. Faces and people in natural light come across as more positive and harmonious. If you can’t move the location, ask your camera person how to create a more natural light.

Talk about difficulties
Like our personal lives, our work life isn’t always a piece of cake. Imagine Little Red Riding Hood without the wolf. Or Batman without the Joker. Not much of a story.

Use the resistance and conflict in the market, a project, customer case, or personal experience as a starting point for your positive story. What happened? What was at stake? What did you do? What did you learn? Where are you today? It adds credibility when companies and people dare to talk about difficult matters.

The choices you make when the going gets tough says more about your company than a movie on how great it is.

A picture speaks a thousand words
Letting the picture speak does not mean that your colleague should go up a staircase to show ‘a career ladder’ or the director should throw a football when he ‘passes the ball onward’. It means that you should hold your reality, location, tasks, and customers as the starting point.

Think about where in your business and in which situations your colleagues do something that gives the viewer the experience you would like to give. The viewer’s experience of the film is the real message. Build pictures of real work situations with your employees.

The experience of the excited engineer or heartfelt leader engages and affects your viewer much more powerfully. Use movies to reach your audience through feeling and experiences – and save the hard facts for elsewhere, because facts and information are quickly forgotten.

Test your movie
Test your movie – both before and after recording. Imagine the scenes, the sounds and the voices. How should it sound and look? Find examples that you like and talk with your director or team about creating the right style and atmosphere for your film. Get them to explain how the camerawork, color grading, and sound support your purpose of the film. That is why they are there.

When the film is finished, watch it without sound. Listen to the sound clip without the image. Have you been successful? Is it credible? How would an outside person experience it? How do our employees sound? Does it look like we’ve got it together? How are our workplace and employees experienced? Is the film believable?

You may not have created the business version of Alien with these five steps, but you will have a credible movie that you can show your audience – without them checking the clock during the few minutes it lasts.

This article has earlier been published in a Danish version on Kommunikationsforum.dk. Read the article Lær video af Alien (Kommunikationsforum.dk, March 7, 2017). Photo from the movie Alien, 1979.

VR is ready to rock your employees

VR Virtual reality employee communication
Virtual reality employee communication

VR is ready to rock your employees

Virtual reality (VR) is designed to give people extraordinary experiences, and that is exactly what we want to give employees, right? Let’s take a dive into why VR is the perfect fit for employee communication.

By: Andreas Ringsted, Creative Advisor (September 6, 2017)

You cannot flip through a communication site without stumbling upon at least a few articles about VR claiming: ‘VR, the next big thing’, or ‘Everything you need to know about VR’. Nonetheless, VR is still a new channel when counting how many are using it actively as a tool.

Especially when it comes to employee communication, VR is new, even though – if you ask me – everyone having employees as their target group should at least consider VR as a part of their communication mix. The major advantage of VR is giving people memorable and extraordinary experiences. And who doesn’t want to give that to their employees?

At Open, we have been working with integrating VR in employee communication. Based on our experiences, here are our thoughts on the big what, why, and how when considering VR as part of the employee communication framework.

Virtual reality

The Sensorama, the first 3D viewer from 1950

So, what is it?
First, let’s answer what VR actually is. It is about allowing your audiences to experience and interact with a virtual world by putting on VR goggles with input from a computer, or a smartphone.

VR can be either a linear or interactive story created as 360° video, or in a 3D environment. Together with stereo sound, this creates a rich, immersive and believable experience.

VR in employee communication
Besides being immersive, VR is exploratory. It gives your viewer a feeling of control. But most significantly, you have their undivided attention. This is the main argument for why VR is a perfect tool to activate and engage employees. Once donning the VR goggles, there are no bleeping phones, no nagging e-mails, and no disturbing colleagues to compete for attention. In a fast-paced work environment, this is a rare opportunity for the communicator.

This opens new opportunities in areas like onboarding, safety, and change communication. In global organizations, you can show corners of the company instead of sending employees on expensive trips. And in safety communication, you can give the audience a much better understanding, for example by letting them experience production before they set foot on the floor.

Moreover, with increased focus on the technology, VR devices have become much cheaper, and with a relatively small investment in gear, the company can push their VR videos out to the organization.

virtual reality employee communication

Hold on your hats and goggles. Just another day at the office getting everyone onboard in what VR actually is about, and what it can do.

Think big, execute small
When we first got the chance to use VR as part of an employee communication project, my storytelling sense was tingling. The narrative could not be complex enough.

However, we quickly discovered that the information delivered in a VR video needs to be even more straight to the point than in conventional video. In VR, the visual experience takes up so much of the viewer’s attention that it leaves little space for complex narration.

Also, we found out defining the why and what in detail is even more important in VR communication than in other formats. A few pointers for starting your new VR project:

Think big in the brainstorm process

  1. Involve relevant stakeholders early in the brainstorm process and give them a chance to experience VR in its various forms.
  2. Use for instance ‘How might we’ questions, known from design thinking to kick-start the innovative process and create exciting storytelling ideas.
  3. Use a mind-map to map the goal: ‘what should the viewer feel’, ‘what should they learn', and ‘what are the primary and secondary topics’.

Execute small and precise

  1. Focus on one primary topic, and allow one or two secondary topics.
  2. Use short and precise narration.
  3. Keep the experience short, 3-4 minutes at the most.

Employee reactions say it all
Even though the implementation of VR in many digital distribution platforms, such as Valve Steam and Sony PlayStation, have made VR more common, many people have never tried it themselves. So, for many people, the experience itself will be an eye-opener.

Earlier this year, we created a VR video for a client as part of a large culture project. Project ambassadors travelled world-wide to have dialogues with employees about the project, using VR to fuel the dialogue. Besides an overwhelming positive response and incredible wow-factor, the VR video sparked curiosity, and we even experienced that people sought out more information about the project by themselves.

I truly believe VR is here to stay, simply because this kind of immersive storytelling is so powerful. Eventually virtual, augmented, and mixed reality will become an integrated part of our workspace. For now, let’s embrace VR as a new communication tool and use it to its full extent, creatively but practically.


Four facts about VRRead more

Open employee engagement

Why employee engagement should be on every leader's agenda

Open employee engagement
Open employee engagement

Why employee engagement should be on every leader's agenda

87 percent of the employed population in 142 countries are unengaged in their jobs. This hinders productivity and life quality worldwide. The solution? Good jobs, great leadership, and clear communication. And a little bit of Maslow.

By:  Solrun Sigfusdottir Øfjord, Communication Advisor (August 31,  2017)

According to Gallup’s report, State of the Global Workplace, only 13 percent of the employed population in 142 countries worldwide are engaged in their job. Meaning: 87 percent are not. They are just there.

The report dates back a couple of years, but recently, Gallup published the report State of the American Workplace. This is an iteration of the global report showing that only 33 percent of American employees are engaged in their work, which, albeit better than the global result, is way below the world’s best organizations, where 70 percent of employees are fully engaged in their jobs.

This is definitely food for thought as Gallup’s surveys also reveal that employees that are emotionally disconnected from their workplace are less likely to be productive. And even worse, that low levels of engagement among workers hinder economic productivity and life quality in much of the world.

So, employee engagement should certainly be a main priority on every top manager’s agenda. Great news – and old news – for us working within employee communication. We will not be running out of work the next couple of years.

But how do we turn these numbers around? The journey starts with good jobs and great leaders. And along the way, communication is the faithful supporter.

Good jobs are essential
According to Gallup’s workplace reports, a good job is the start. Of course, a good job varies from region to region. In some regions, a good job is just having a job to cover the bottom levels of Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: food and safety. Whilst in other regions, a good job equals prestige, recognition, salary and self-actualization. High engagement levels are also connected to education and jobs matching the employees’ knowledge and talent, though.

But regardless of regional differences, the reports show – not surprisingly – when everything adds up, we all want the same as the infamous millennials: a meaningful purpose, great leadership, and development opportunities. Engaged employees are those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work, and contribute to their organization in a positive manner.

Additionally, engaged employees are most likely to drive innovation and growth, build new products and services, come up with new ideas, create customer relationships, and ultimately boost the bottom-line – and thereby create more good jobs. As the worn-out saying goes, it really is a win-win situation.

Leaders must be recognized as engagers
When we move up further up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a great leader becomes more important to the employees and is an integrated part of ‘a good job’.

Gallup’s reports show that managers are held responsible for their employees’ engagement. This means that training and recruitment of managers with a knack for leading, motivating, supporting, empowering, and engaging employees should be in focus. Managers must be recognized as a primary driver for boosting engagement in the workplace.

Also, organizations should help take an active role in ensuring managers continuously focus and keep track of their employees’ engagement. And they should be helped to understand mechanisms of engagement and how to build it. No one is an engagement expert from day one as a manager.

Solution: Communication, involvement and engagement
Now we are well into connecting Maslow to Gallup’s research, we need to comment on collaboration and communication. What Maslow misses in his hierarchy is the fact that belongingness is a driving force of human nature. All the needs in Maslow’s hierarchy are dependent on our ability to connect with others and social collaboration with others. Without collaboration, humans have hard conditions to survive.

Here, communication plays a vital role in employee engagement. Companies must bring both formal and informal campaigns and conversations about engagement into the workplace every day. They need to include, involve and inform the employees in and about the workplace. Mid-level managers must set concrete objectives and have focus on day-to-day engagement, e.g. in 1:1 sessions, and turn it into everyday activities connected to the employees’ performance objectives.

And meanwhile, top management must set the lofty goals. They must practice visual leadership and both show and tell the importance of employee engagement and not at least why it is important. It is no secret or shame to be explicit about the fact that engagement and the well-being of the employees equals green numbers, profitability, growth and in the end more good jobs.

How about that, leaders? Employee engagement really pays off, so let’s help each other prioritize and raise the bar on employee engagement. And beautifully stated of Gallup – and I agree – companies, communities, and countries are dependent on it.

Download Gallup’s reports on employee engagement

Open digital workplace

Masterclass: The roadmap to digital workplace adoption


Masterclass: The roadmap to digital workplace adoption

Working on a new digital workplace strategy? Join Open and BrightStarr on 26th of October, 2017 for a masterclass on how to successfully introduce that type of technologies in the workplace.

By: Solrun Sigfusdottir Øfjord, Communication Advisor (17 August 2017)

Delivering a digital workplace solution that employees actually adopt requires more than simply implementing the technology. From idea to launch to on-going engagement, your employees must be front and center to the plan and equipped to make the most of a digital workplace. For this reason, we have partnered BrighStarr in a half-day seminar to share more about the tech and people side behind launching a new digital workplace.

We will cover:

  • Welcome: An introduction to the day
  • Preparing for success: How to ready your business for a new digital workplace
  • Picking the right technology: What products and functionalities to consider to drive engagement
  • The art of driving adoption: How to make your new digital workplace work for employees
  • Panel Debate: Tales from the frontline. We’ll be joined by a panel of industry experts from different organizations, who will be sharing their experience

Event details

Date: 26th of October, 2017

Time: 8:30 am to 12.30pm

Location:  Microsoft  – Kanalvej 7, 2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark

Sign-up: We look forward to welcoming you, so remember to sign-up on the event’s webpage.


More about BrightStarr:

BrightStarr is a digital workplace consultancy that has been delivering solutions to clients for over 10 years. Its Unily platform integrates with the best of Office 365 to offer a complete digital workplace experience for global organization.

Event Sponsor:

Slido supports ‘The roadmap to digital workplace adoption’ seminar. Slido is an audience interaction tool for meetings events and conferences.


For more inspiration about launching a new digital workplace, check our case-study with PANDORA, here.

10 steps to an effective internal communication flow

optimize your internal communication flow

10 steps to an effective internal communication flow

Is the communication flow in your organization referred to as a jungle or just inept for essential communication? Then now is time to tighten up. Here are ten steps to streamline your internal channels and communication flow.

By: Solrun Sigfusdottir Øfjord, Communication advisor (20 March 2017)

In many organizations, there are two types of communication: operational communication and strategy communication. Sometimes the tasks merge, and other times they are separate. And in some places, operational communication is low-prestige, while for others it is the core of internal communication.

Regardless of how the strategic and operational communication go hand in hand, a solid daily take on the internal channels is essential for successful strategic communication. In other words, operational communication should be strategic with a razor-sharp focus on constantly keeping the interfaces effective.

The solution is not to communicate more, but smarter. So, here’s a ten-step guide on how to streamline the internal communication flow in your organization:

  1. Set a long-term goal
    Start by defining a long-term goal for the internal communication flow. What are the objectives for the internal communication? What are the organization’s communication needs? What questions should an improved communication flow answer? For example: How should a communication flow help employees get the information they need? The answers will help you set objectives for the internal communication flow.
  1. Map needs
    List target groups on one side and their goals to the other side. Now, map the ‘journey’ towards the goals including touch points. Where do different employees seek information? And if they do not find it there, where do they look then? The intranet, a colleague, the line manager, staff magazine, or maybe even externally. By doing this exercise you will map where to strengthen the communication and where the target groups are receptive to communication.
  1. Map channels
    This is not an exercise in repairing existing channels, but an exercise in finding channels suited for the organization’s needs as well as the needs of the target groups. Use a SWOT analysis to map channels’ strengths and weaknesses and internal opportunities and threats – and to assess whether it is time to break with some channels, revitalize some, or create new ones.
  1. Select channels
    Select the channels matching the needs from step 2 and 3. The mix and the number of channels depend on the organization’s structure, culture and size. But less is more. For most organizations, the intranet will be the main road, supplemented by smaller, more exclusive roads for internal campaigns and roll-outs, such as town halls, info screens, newsletters, flyers and mobile enabled games.
  1. Design channels
    Design the new channels so they meet the organization’s need to communicate and the employees’ needs for knowledge. Moreover, the channels must be user-friendly, accessible, measurable, and reflect the target audience’s expectations for the specific channels. Today, employees of all ages expect digital media to include social functions and invite for dialog or feedback – also the digital media in the workplace.
  1. Create editorial guidelines
    Complete editorial guidelines for each channel – quite simple, max one page with objectives, success criteria, target groups, content, and frequency. It is important that each channel has a clear profile, so the internal communications professionals know exactly what to publish where and how to create synergy between channels. This is essential so it is clear to the target groups what to find where.
  1. Involve management
    Involve management in improving the efficiency of the communication flow. Get the editorial guidelines on the management’s agenda, present the analysis and recommendations, advice them in deciding which way to go, and make it clear that relevant content requires their engagement. In other words: Create ownership and create trust in the effectiveness of the new communication flow.
  1. Be bold
    Internal news is reputed to be rather rosy in its approach. There are multiple reasons why: The classic criteria for newsworthiness are hard to fulfill, the writers are biased as they are both the sender and the receiver, and the writers might be interested in positioning themselves (positively) to the management. This is why it is extremely important to encourage the management to communicate a bigger slice of the ‘why’ and also to ensure that management accepts and supports the premise.
  1. Measure – learn – improve
    Continuous measurements are a prerequisite for keeping the interface effective: Statistical data on relevant content or a pulse measurement on the navigation asking: ‘Did you find what you were looking for?’, or on the content, e.g. ‘Did this article give you a better understanding of our 2020 strategy?’. For printed material, it is alright to accept a loose approach to measurements to avoid questionnaires and focus groups. Just ask people around the corridors and listen to the grapevine. The mantra should be measure – learn – improve. This does not mean that you should constantly change the editorial policies, but you should be ready to adapt if needs or behaviors have changed significantly over a year’s time.
  1. Keep the interface efficient
    And as a final step in this guide: Keep the interface efficient. Every day, always. This simply means that the management must prioritize resources spent on keeping the interfaces efficient, and the editorial team needs to dedicate time to provide relevant content, target the content, then ensure that the content is in the right place and that it supports the strategies.

So, now you are ready to rock your internal communication flow. Please, share your take on keeping the channels lean in your organization.