Power of video in employee communication

Add true power to your next 'talking head' or event video

Power of video in employee communication
Power of video in employee communication

How to add true power to your next event video or 'talking head'

Video series: The power of video lies in the content, intention, and delivery, not in the tool itself. If you are new to shooting videos these tips can help you make your next ‘talking head’ or event video more engaging.

By: Simon Charles Quintal, Senior Creative Advisor & Video Specialist (February 9, 2018)

To many, video production feels like something reserved for digital natives or professional production houses. However, you can tap into tried and tested knowledge behind this elusive craft or art form that can help you to understand and utilize the power of video in your corporate communication.

Video is just a technology as a pen is a tool. You can point a camera at a blank wall and call it a video but that does not make it interesting in itself. The video is not interesting. Content, intention, and delivery is what makes it worth your audiences’ time. Done right, corporate video can communicate more than just information. The sum of the whole is so much more than each part on its own. But it requires preparation, ideas, and a dose of risk-taking.

Create memorable and impactful moments

Chances are that your first ventures into video are recording an in-house event such as a company day, conference, or staff meeting. Something you want to remember and be able to share afterward. Just like that video of your 4-year-old interpreting songs from The Lion King.

The other video production you likely will be involved with is ‘the talking head’. A form of an interview, maybe with your CEO, that delivers a message to be shared with the organization. Something that should have an impact and a feeling of passion for the message. Just like The Lord of the Rings, produced by 4,000 people working on it for two years full time – a beast of technology, story, drama, and effects. Almost.

Both video formats are safe because they do not necessarily require any real consideration of style, story, or packaging. But you should always take a moment and think about if that is what you really want. Does it have the impact you wanted? Is it memorable? Does it encourage your organization to engage with the message and maybe even be moved so much to take action?

1) The event video

Okay, your next project might be to document an event or a meeting. The word document means to record everything and keep it for later. But the novelty wears off very quickly and from a technical stand video takes up a lot of space on a hard drive. Sorting through hours of footage can be daunting. In a corporate setting, there might be limited value in communicating look-at-what-happened in a 1:1 ratio. When was the last time you spent your evening watching a two-hour staff meeting filmed with a stationary camera?

So, add layers, context, voices, questions, and critique to the mix, and boil the entire video down to 3-5 minutes. There is a good chance that the viewer might have questions or reservations about the subject matter. Your audience cannot ask the questions to the event. It is your job to ask the questions in the video through interviews, a host, or graphics added afterward. The crux of the matter is that the video needs to be thought of as video utilizing the strengths instead of the limitations. Again, we connect with people, with intention, story, honesty, authenticity, and delivery. Make the five minutes count.

2) The talking head

Reality often plays out like this: You are recording a ‘talking head’ with your CEO. She received a script a few minutes in advance – written by someone in communication. She changes the wording a bit to make it hers, but in essence, she is rehashing a corporate message created by someone else. If making a video is a new venture, then just seeing the CEO in front of a camera might be interesting but lack of training and commitment makes it a disengaging experience for the audience. Or even worse, it becomes awkward and cringeworthy.

Where video and messaging shines is when you feel the person in front of the camera, when the spoken words and the body language are soaked in honesty, intention, and focus. Sure, being very articulate helps but it is far from being the most important element to a good talking head video.

A talking head video can be really powerful because of its intimacy. For a few minutes, you have the audiences’ undivided attention. Think about how powerful that is. Two minutes to deliver a message so important that it was worth the money and time to produce. Encourage storytelling, putting a personal spin on it, personal experiences, examples and most importantly, talk about something that matters. It is not easy and it requires practice. But it is worth it when the viewer has a feeling of being told something important by someone who cares about the message.

Next level after event videos and ‘talking heads’

If your organization is responding well to video, the next level is to actively use video as a way of communicating stories about the company and its employees. Examples of this could be a core story video and impact videos featuring employees and customers. It could be small interviews, portrait films, or animation.

If video, or rather the people making it, communicate with authenticity, commitment, and a true intention to share an important message, then video can be an exceptionally powerful way of reaching employees and be the glue that binds your communication efforts together.

More about this in the next article in our series about impactful videos.

Video is more than a tool and pressing the right buttons. Video is visual storytelling. In the next weeks, we have a special focus on corporate video and the impact videos can have on your employee communication. This article is the first in this series. Stay tuned.


On the Mic: Steffen Støvelbæk from Nilfisk


On the Mic: Steffen Støvelbæk from Nilfisk

Recently, Nilfisk was listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange – an exciting event both internally and externally. We're so glad to have Steffen Støvelbæk, Head of Communications at Nilfisk, sharing what he sees as key when communicating a stock exchange listing internally.

By: Kristina Malther, Associated Partner & Senior Communication Advisor (16 January 2018)

Why do you find it exciting to work with employee communication?
Because it is about people! And about interacting with people and the interaction between people. Effective employee communication is the glue that connects people with the company and the strategy. I find contributing to creating this alignment and a bigger purpose and adding value for everyone a big privilege. I am responsible for both external and internal communication globally across Nilfisk. However, it becomes harder and harder to distinguish between these two disciplines, as messages, of course, need to be fully aligned and transparent across all channels.

What was your latest success and what made it a success?
Recently, Nilfisk was listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange. A listing process mainly targets investors, analysts, and other external stakeholders but we also wanted to make this an internal event. We managed to turn the listing into a successful internal celebration of a milestone in the history of Nilfisk. I think that was a great achievement and something that has left a positive mark on the company.

Why was it important to communicate the Nilfisk Stock exchange listing internally?
These types of events are not often communicated internally because of their strong financial scope and at Nilfisk, a lot of the employees outside of Denmark didn’t care when we communicated about the listing plans. Most of them found it irrelevant to them. We decided to use the listing as an opportunity to acknowledge the achievements of all Nilfisk employees in making this happen and to create a sense of excitement, pride, and unity around it; across all our 60+ locations worldwide. Technically, this was a demerger from Nilfisk’s former owners NKT, and we also wanted to make sure that this was seen as something positive, and not as a threat.

What did you learn during the process?
I learned that it pays off to make an event like this a people-centered celebration, paying tribute to the employees and what they have created together – instead of only focusing on finances and investors. It is also important to get the managers on board as early as possible in the process to support local communication activities across all sites. We used a mix of live webcasts, prerecorded videos and interviews, and Q&A’s. The unity it created across our many different locations was great.

What were your greatest communication successes in communicating internally about the listing?
We succeeded in encouraging employees across the world to use social media and share their celebrations locally. This created a nice vibe on the different SoMe platforms and a strong sense of unity internally. We saw that aligning and bridging internal and external messages supported our employee promise and brand.

What is your best advice/tip to other employee communicators facing a Stock exchange listing?
Remember to celebrate! With the busy day-to-day grind, we often forget to celebrate and mark our achievements and successes. As human beings, we all like and need that, and a listing is a great opportunity to do this. The bottom line is that the employees have all contributed to and created the company that now is financially strong enough to be listed and attract investors. That’s something to celebrate, isn’t it?

‘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.


Purpose and planning are key to digital workplace adoption

digital Digital_workplace_adoption_intranet_employee_communication
digital Digital_workplace_adoption_intranet_employee_communication

Purpose and planning are key to digital workplace adoption

The road to digital workplace adoption does not need to be a winding one. In seven steps, you can get your own, tailored roadmap to get you well on your way to successful digital workplace adoption.

By: Solrun Sigfusdottir Øfjord, Senior Communication Advisor (December 7, 2017)

Adoption of a new digital workplace does not happen over-night. You are probably nodding already if you have been in the epi-center of implementing such. It requires a clear purpose, well-planned communication tactics, the right competencies and tailored engagement.

Here, the Digital Workplace Adoption Roadmap Tool can come in handy. The Digital Workplace Adoption Roadmap Tool consists of seven steps that come with reflection exercises and practical advice to help drive adoption. The tool is for everyone working with employee communication, and those to embark on the journey towards a new digital workplace.

We developed the tool as part of the event ‘Roadmap to Digital Workplace Adoption’ which Open co-hosted together with BrightStarr.

You can also read live tweets from the event at #digitalworkplacedk on Twitter.

We have written more about the topic of digital workplaces and you can read our other posts here and here.

Power up your employee communication with personas


Power up your employee communication with personas

People – your employees – respond differently to different messages and situations. How to respond to these differences is where personas come in as the perfect gift from service design to employee communication.

By: Anna Porko Hansen, Communication Advisor (October 4, 2017)

Employee communication is a part of the greater employee experience. It is the magical ingredient that engages, empowers, and activates employees. Due to many parallels, employee experience design can draw numerous lessons from the world of service design – the field of people centricity – including several tools and methods established for customer experience design.

Potentially, the most essential take-away for employee communication is that of personas. Personas are about understanding people as people, not as statistics, numbers, or segments. They will help you engage people as people.

People behave in different ways, respond differently to any given situation, are motivated by different things, and have different goals and values. So, different groups of employees will also receive communication campaigns differently. They respond to different channels and different messages in different ways. This means that to reach them, you need to be able to choose the correct approach and channel.

Knowing your employees’ preferences on a deeper level will help you deliver your communications in a way that your employees can access, understand, and relate to. Personas can help you do exactly that.

What is a persona?
Simply put, a persona is a description of a person who represents a group of people. In the case of employee communication, a persona represents a group of employees who share some key characteristics. A persona is fictional, but needs to be built on solid, factual information. You can get this information from HR records, surveys and interviews, web and intranet analytics, personality tests, or anywhere that you can find data on your employees, their preferences, and behaviors.

A persona is not the same as a segment, or a demographic, although they do share traits. A persona represents a person, and is written and visualized as a person. This person has a name, we know how old they are, we know about their family and interests, and we know about their habits and motivation. Let me exemplify this through Maria.

service design employee communication

Example: Maria Anderson
Maria is 35 years old. She lives in a semi-detached house in the suburbs with her husband and two children. The boys are aged 7 and 3. She reads the news on her tablet in the morning with a cup of tea, and has her mobile close at hand all day. Maria drives an estate car to work every day. She and her husband take turns dropping the kids off and picking them up from day care and school.

Maria works in a specialist position, as part of a team of specialist knowledge workers. Most of her work is relationship and computer based. She is proficient in the use of modern technology. She follows the world around her regularly through several digital channels, including the company intranet, but she does not actively post on social media. Maria is relatively private and likes to keep some boundaries between work and personal life.

Maria enjoys the social aspect of her work and is very good with clients and colleagues. She participates in most company events as she feels it builds a better atmosphere and working environment. She is receptive to in person communication like CEO-presentations at company events. Maria can be activated to be a part of change communications, as long as it is through physical meetings or team-based activities.

Using personas in your work
Personas, like Maria here, need to be good and accurate representations of your employees. If you can’t recognize a Maria, or several Marias in fact, in your employees, then the persona(s) need to be adjusted. As an approximation, you should build a minimum of three personas, around five should do the trick. Too few and you will not get sufficient leverage out of them, too many and they will end up complicating and hindering your decision-making process.

Once you have arrived at a good number of personas that you feel represent your employees accurately, evaluate your campaign design and plans. Consider Maria again. A campaign calling for active participation though one or more SoMe channels would not work for someone like her. Maria would feel pressured to use social media in ways she is not comfortable with, especially if the campaign asked her to use private accounts for work related tasks. It would likely cause a negative reaction. Even sharing something through intranet channels might cross a line for Maria.

Considering for example a digital campaign, you would need to remember that for the Marias among your employees, inactive participation is key. They will be receptive to many forms or mediums of communication, from text and images to video, as long as they can receive and observe. There are bound to be other types of personas among your employees who will love to participate actively, to share and interact with your content and those who will be keen to create their own, relevant content. It is worth considering these differences, as a campaign that targets different personas through their preferred methods will be more rewarding for you and for your employees.

Your personas will help you answer questions on which aspects of a campaign are most likely to reach whom? Ask questions like which personas will receive your communication through intranet? Who will only receive written communications, who will watch all your videos, and who will read the posters? What do the different personas care about, and how can you move them?

Having answers to these questions and others, and creating a campaign with your personas in mind will result in a more strategic approach and a better reach among your employees. It will engage, empower, and activate.

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

employee as influencers

Get through employees’ bullshit filters

employee as influencers
employee as influencers

Get through employees’ bullshit filters

Having a hard time getting through to your employees? Learn the successful tactics from influencer marketing and turn your ambassadors into true influencers.

By:  Solrun Sigfusdottir Øfjord, Communication Advisor (August 23,  2017)

According to a survey by eMarketer, about 50 percent of marketing professionals plan on doubling their budgets for influencer marketing in 2017. Why? Because they can affect behaviors in ways companies cannot. More importantly, influencers can help companies reach millennials, where two out of three use ad-blockers on their smartphones to avoid ads.

In employee communication, we have something like influencers: ambassadors. We activate them to help translate strategic messages and to reach employees who are hard to reach through traditional internal channels. Internal ambassadors are a valued part of the channel mix due to their strong position as ‘known connectors’ and respected messengers among both management and employees.

The commercial angle of influencers in marketing can be hard to mirror in employee communication. We are not up against ad-blockers and the reward is more often a pat on the back than an actual paycheck. Also, company ambassadors – with all respect – do not have as strong images as SoMe influencers, and the management is often cautious about putting corporate strategy, company values or behaviors up for grabs on the formal internal channels.

But we are most definitely up against employees’ bullshit filters when communicating strategic messages, and we could definitely get more out of our ambassadors. Here, tactics from influencer marketing come in quite handy and can help us turn them into true influencers.

Turn ambassadors into powerful influencers
The tactics of influencer marketing can vary, and there are many ways to create effective campaigns, where influencers help boost the bottom line. Here are 10 steps to get more out of our internal ambassadors and employee communication inspired by the successful tactics:

1. Identify influencers
First, identify strong internal influencers. They are not necessarily those you usually would engage as ambassadors. While ambassadors are often chosen for their loyalty to the company, timeliness, network, and in-depth knowledge of strategic goals, influencers are chosen for their creativity, integrity, social reach and loyalty to themselves as professionals. Look in the Friday bar, town-hall meetings, around the water-cooler, and at team meetings. An influencer is someone you naturally pay attention to and you may want to be your manager or close colleague.

2. Trust your influencers’ gut-feeling
When strong brands such as Hallmark, LEGO and IKEA are bold enough to trust influencers to interpret their brand in various ways externally and use their own words when doing so, then you should trust your employees to interpret your corporate strategy, values or behaviors. Influencers are very conscious about their own integrity, professionalism and loyalty to their own brand; they only engage with brands they can relate to and that can help them get closer to their followers. If your influencers are not willing to use their own brand promoting and interpreting the corporate strategy, then you should ask them why and listen carefully. They may be on to something.

An influencer through decades is Oprah. After visiting Copenhagen back in 2009, Oprah made Americans losing for Danish rye bread. Today, having your own channels is not only for the elite. Anyone with a talent for engaging their audience can become insta-famous, or YouTube famous (photo credit: ERD)

3. Know their currency
Fame, acknowledgement and (for some) a fat pay check motivate many influencers in marketing. In many organizations, this is unrealistic. Nonetheless, you need to know your internal influencers’ currency; their motivation. Is it public acknowledgement, or the importance or seeing their input turned into action? Find out. It is probably not hard to fulfill.

4. Involve your influencers
Be careful using internal influencers as mouth pieces for the management or as feedback channels, when anchoring strategic decisions. Influencers must be nurtured and involved on a co-creation and ‘you’-level’. Instead, ask them: ‘How would you communicate our strategy?’. They are on location, they know what appeals to their colleagues and local tone-of-voice. Also, you should not just listen and turn their words into intranet articles, but let them be the senders and interpreters of the message.

5. Make it fun, inspiring and attractive
A common way to engage and co-create in influencer marketing is through creative influencer campaigns. It simply is about giving your influencers a fun challenge, where they are asked to interpret a theme, issue or product in their own way. It has to be fun being an influencer, preferably together with others and with a bit of friendly competition. Invite your influencers e.g. to a co-creation workshop where they cut and paste the values or create a video or a feature, where they put a theme, a problem or product into perspective in their own personal way. Or ask them to take part in creating their communication activity, either staging it themselves or as a part of an event.

Sea of shoes, influencer marketing, influencer, Chloe, Love story, campaign

In Chloés ‘Love Story’ campaign from 2015, top fashion bloggers interpret the theme ‘Love Story’, e.g. the blogger Sea of Shoes. Why not do something similar to your corporate values? (Photo credit: Sea of Shoes)

6. Decide on the channels
Influencers in marketing have their own platforms for communicating and influencing; employees do not. This is not entirely correct, though. There are a dozen social tools to easily implement in your organization and existing platforms to support the needs and necessities of influencer communication. Most CMSes have blog applications and team hubs, and then there is Slack, Facebook Workplace, Microsoft Teams and many more social platforms waiting for you to jump to the next generation of communication platforms. And now, you might think blogging is so last year or too time consuming. Think micro-blogging – people are in touch with micro-blogging every day on their private SoMe channels and will soon be in corporate life as well.

Keep an eye on micro-blogging on SoMe. You will find micro-bloggers within food, travel, BoPo (body positive) and much more. Check out for instance the bloggers @mamacaxx from N.Y.C. or the British @bodyposipanda (Photo credit: @mamacaxx and @bodyposipanda)

7. Keep an eye on up-coming or burned out influencers
In marketing, influencers come and go. It takes time to build a network of followers, but only a few weeks to lose them. The same applies to internal influencers. Your influencers’ engagement, energy and visibility is essential for their reach and impact. That is why you need to keep an eye on the performance of your influencers and mainly spend time on those who have reach and are up-coming influencers, e.g. a new hire or an employee in a new position. Therefore, you should not formalize your influencer network officially, but have an informal list in your drawer, as only few influencers stay for long – and are probably hard to retain in the organization for ages.

8. Keep an eye on both influencers and ambassadors
You should differentiate between company influencers and company ambassadors. Consider them as two different ‘channels’. Carefully consider if you need both and when to activate whom. Ambassadors are a great channel for reaching off-shore and production staff, who are not online and ambassadors can supplement or replace for instance the intranet. Influencers are great for affecting behaviors, opinions and decisions, e.g. in change projects.

Marabou is a great example of a creative influencer campaign. Marabou asked YouTubers to interpret the classic gingerbread house and build a Christmassy chocolate house to stage a new fun Christmas tradition.

9. Have employee advocacy as an ambition
According to numbers from LinkedIn ELEVATE, organizations prioritizing employee advocacy are 58 percent more likely to attract top talent, and that content shared by employees has two times higher engagement than content shared by the company itself. That is why you should have employee advocacy as an ambition on the long-term. Help and train your influencers in how to get a wider reach in their network both inside and outside of the company and do’s and don’ts on SoMe, such as text lengths, and how to handle positive and negative feedback. Offer e.g. a recurrent course or a web-seminar in employee advocacy to all employees, which you especially can encourage your influencers to attend.

10. Know it does not come overnight
Creating a passionate network of influencers and an influencer culture in your organization takes time. Maybe years. Start involving a handful of identified influencers in small, less strategically sensitive themes such as office climate, how to get people on Yammer or how to celebrate the company’s 100-year anniversary. Then begin involving them in re-boosting the values, in re-location projects or in defining company culture in merger or acquisition matters.

Now, run through the list once again. Yes, it is more time-consuming using influencers in employee communication than sharing an article on the intranet. But the output – employee engagement and business results – will be greater. That is why you should start today already.

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.