Colleagues as Consumers – taking a marketing mindset to create an impactful employee experience

Author - Arlen Pettitt

Date published:

By Elouise Leonard-Cross, Northumbrian Water – to hear more from Elouise, sign up for the People Power Conference on 16th November.

“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson is famous for his belief in the importance of the employee, believing if an employee is given the tools they need, looked after and treated well, that they will be happy and as a result the customer will have a positive experience. A strong belief that putting staff first, customer second and shareholders third, effectively yields positive outcomes for shareholders and a better customer experience.

All too often businesses invest in marketing but use that talent and resource pointed at an external market – creating products, solutions and messaging aimed at the customer. The result is that employees complain they are the last to know, see things on external digital channels or even hear them from customers themselves.

So how can businesses adopt their communications approach so that they treat colleagues as consumers? The starting point is to simply understand the customer proposition. At Northumbrian Water we have mirrored roles in both People and Customer – each having a team focused on Strategy and Experience. This means that the conversations start early and the most basic level we look to use the same underpinning model. This shared start point means we are looking through a similar lens and measuring complimentary metrics.

We are simultaneously reducing the number of channels and improving the channels we retain for colleagues to communicate, share and feed-back. Many businesses invest in setting up channels, forums and networks but then fail to sustain these with ideas that are sent to an inbox or posted in a forum by a colleague being missed and then creating disengagement and distrust. By having fewer channels but ensuring these are highly accessible, monitored and responded to helps colleagues feel like a powerful voice within the business.

Small actions like sharing Press Releases internally before they are promoted externally makes a real difference in colleagues feeling valued and informed. In addition we are using more agile approaches to learning, to understand the wants and preferences of our internal consumers. This includes building new communications and resource platforms with high quality analytics, so we can see immediately what is working and what isn’t. The key here is that the interest in this data remains, it’s considered weekly (if not daily) to understand what is happening and take real time action. We’ve seen real success with this as we redesigned our Health and Wellness approach using consumer centred thinking. We undertook considerable analysis of the situation and needs of our customers, using persona’s to support our thinking. The design was intentionally different too, crafted to reflect the needs of colleagues during the pandemic. This resulted in a much more informal and engaging product design and the collaborative development of a site that has been accessed by over 90% of colleagues within the first 6 months.

Join us at People Power on 16th November to hear more about how collaboration and strong partnerships between the Corporate Communications and HR function is enabling people projects to achieve maximum benefit and impact and our award winning Living Well project.

Elouise Leonard-Cross

Head of People Strategy and Experience, Northumbrian Water Group

Elouise is one of a raft of high profile speakers at the upcoming People Power Conference, taking place on Tuesday 16th November at the NewcastleGateshead Hilton. To find out more and book your place, visit their website.

Photo by Clayton Cardinalli on Unsplash

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