Employee engagement at BDHT: Doing it because you want to, not because you’re told to

A couple of weeks ago I shared a picture on LinkedIn of the ‘Little book of Thank Yous’ my husband had brought home from his annual staff conference with employer Bromsgrove District Housing Trust (BDHT). It got 20 Likes- many of which were from people I am not directly connected to. I like to think I started something that went viral!

Joking aside, I was quite surprised at the response. Here’s the post:



I think the positive reaction to this piece of internal communications which included a bold statement that it qualified as #CommsHero work, perhaps shows how immature the concept of employee engagement still is.

Companies have long recognised the ‘happy staff = happy customers = profit’ cycle but despite this, many still fail at identifying their key internal messages and communicating these in a way that resonates with the workforce.

In my husband’s case, his employer’s message was one of thanks. BDHT’s book of Thank You’s contained small but powerful ‘favours’ in return for all the hard work of the staff, for example an extra hour in bed and a cup of tea made by management. For my husband, this translates into good feeling, into appreciation of the recognition, into wanting to carry on being effective at his job so he can continue to work in partnership to achieve positive outcomes for customers. It really does go very deep.

Internal communications should be treated with as much, if not more, importance than external communications. If you’re trying to drive forward a new company culture, a set of values or ‘way of doing things’, you need to approach the ‘campaign’ in the same way as any customer or corporate marketing with stages of analysis, planning, execution and evaluation. It’s about knowing your audience, developing appropriate messages, choosing the most effective mix of communications tools and testing awareness and engagement so you can be sure when it is no longer a ‘campaign’ but is truly embedded.

My husband’s company are also very good at being consistent. His Personal Development Plan contains questions like: ‘How can you contribute to BDHT’s success?’ and ‘How have you been able to develop BDHT to feel like ONE team? What would you like to do?’ I am also told that the Chief Exec has a genuine ‘open door’ policy. BDHT has successfully created a clear vision for the organisation where staff feel they can personally grow, where their wellbeing is really important and they can give something back to the communities BDHT works in.

BDHT personal development plan
The BDHT Personal Development Plan

What is your internal communications like? Do you effectively engage your staff? Would the way they speak about your company to their friends delight you?

Let me know about the best piece of employee engagement communications you have seen by leaving a comment. 


How to drive traffic to your website, using a lorry

My rather boring commute to work was improved this week when I stopped in traffic behind a White Logistics lorry. Truck number 54 to be precise.

On the back of the van was a brain teaser, tying into White’s ‘PROBLEM? SOLVED!’ strap line. I could clearly see one animal in the teaser but couldn’t for the life of me see the second:

Screen shot from White Logistics website showing truck 54 with a brain teasing illustration on it
The back of White Logistics’ Truck 54. Can you see the two animals in this illustration?

I was so annoyed with myself that I felt compelled to check the White Logistics website as soon as I got into work (don’t tell the boss). So White had successfully driven traffic (no pun intended) to its website.

I even told my colleague about it (poor girl). And had either of us been in the logistics industry or had a need for general haulage or Danish trolleys (whatever they are), White would have done a brilliant job of raising brand awareness and potentially converting to a sale. However neither of us fall into their target market.

So… in terms of driving traffic, White has done a great job. But it’s the wrong traffic. I am not a quality visitor. I am not going to convert. And even though I’ve ‘told a friend’ and even blogged about it, there are probably very few other people stuck in traffic behind a White Logistics lorry that would do the same.

I’m not taking anything away from the campaign- I actually love it. But… when considering referral strategies, make sure you invest in the ones that will drive the right traffic, the visitors that will convert into revenue. You don’t necessarily need a lorry to do this.



P.S. the two animals are a duck and a rabbit.


7 Barriers to Social Media in Business

Dilbert cartoon strip making fun of the fact that business social media policies can prevent social media implementation from working
Dilbert cartoon from http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2010-09-13/

My friend sent me a link to this Dilbert strip this morning and it made me laugh. It got me thinking about how company policy or cultural norms can be barriers to successful social media marketing. Here are the top 7 barriers to using social media in business:

1. Trust

Dilbert captures it perfectly.

If you trust your staff to speak to customers on the phone, in emails, letters and in person, why not trust them to speak to customers on social media? I can understand some nervousness because social platforms are public and therefore the conversation is in front of the world, but nowadays there is nothing stopping a customer publishing your other communications to them on their own networks. At least if you’re involved in the conversation your opinion can be heard.

2. The wrong people

My personal view and the approach that is becoming more popular and is regularly being proven as best practice, is that customer service teams, NOT marketing teams should manage company social networks. Think about your call centre operatives- they are trained to the highest standards in customer care, they know how to speak to your customers and they know your products and services inside out. So if you give them a little bit more training, there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to extend their skills to what is just another customer communications route.

3. Training

When social media is new to a business, it’s prudent to provide training on:

  • Processes for dealing with enquiries
  • Complaints and crisis management
  • Systems
  • The written word (spelling, punctuation and grammar) and
  • Tone of voice and communications style.

Appropriate training will deliver successful social media. It will also support you to manage staff performance.

4. Software/ systems

Even if you’re not ‘speaking’ on social media, every company should be ‘listening’ to what is being said about them. There are many excellent social media management systems on the market such as Hootsuite and Sprout Social. Here’s a really good infographic that compares the features of the top social media monitoring tools.

5. Time

One of the first questions I’ve always been asked when I’ve introduced social media to businesses, is “How long will it take each day?” There really is no right answer to this question. It takes as long as it takes. If you don’t set aside time, your social media will fail.

6. Management

Senior managers need to understand and embrace any change programme for it to become truly embedded within the company. Implementing a major communications change by introducing social media needs understanding and support from the top. Not every CEO has to tweet or become an ‘Influencer’ on LinkedIn, but it’s good if they at least comprehend the need for Social and its real measures of success.

7. Strategy

I think that say 3 years ago it was OK to just start tweeting and see what happened but that’s not the case anymore. Especially in organisations where social media management is shared across different teams who all need awareness of the overall goal and the activities involved in reaching it.

Successful conversations on social media rely on engaging content. Content doesn’t produce itself and it needs preparation and planning. Without a plan, how do you know if you’re achieving your objectives?

What other barriers to using social media in business have you come across?