With all its great and positive characteristics, large and diverse enterprises often share a common challenge: the struggle with strong and healthy internal communication. Bottom-up, top-down, or transversal, corporate communication is frequently an issue that, in most cases, is solved by putting in place a solid digital strategy with a great focus on improving communication tools (Teams, Slack, or similar solutions).
Providing better channels for employees to communicate regularly sounds like the perfect plan to deal with the modern workplace’s main interaction challenges. But what happens when technology is not an enabler? And how can enterprises address this challenge when half of the employees are working in the field with no access to digital tools whatsoever? Is digital communication as inclusive as it seems in this situation?
To make it clear: we are not coming up with random scenarios for the purpose of this article. This was a concrete challenge we were asked to solve with our client Viteos – and we brought our partners from CreativMinds along in this mission.
VITEOS Case Study
On Sept 15th, we co-hosted a Webinar on the 5 key challenges of the Modern Workplace. From the many insights, there was one particularly interesting takeaway pointed out by Jaimé, speaker on behalf of Stellium: we can discuss collaboration best practices, and how companies are dealing with knowledge management or contribute to social interactions via enterprise social, for instance. But there is one that is crucial and transversal to all other areas – it is called Communication and it is the most important pillar of this so-called modern workplace.
Without proper communication, there are no successful missions and that was exactly the outcome of the work that we did for our client Viteos. But let us get back to the beginning of the story.
Viteos is an energy company from Switzerland, active in the development of renewable energies and focused on offering its customers solutions to implement the energy transition. Currently, they have more than 350 employees (many of whom work in the field).
Some years ago, they conducted an internal survey to assess the performance of their internal communication and soon realized that there were several red flags, many raised by the somehow clear misalignment between employees working in the office (white collar) and the employees working on the field (blue collar).
At the time, challenges were well identified by the company’s own resources but, from a certain moment on, they did not know what was necessary to fill in the gaps to change and address the communication issues internally.
From the outside, the main issue was clear: there was a need to make everyone (or at least a representative of each area) aligned and encourage them to speak about their own issues without any kind of interference to make sure they understood each other paint points. This was Covid time, thus supporting close interactions was an additional challenge both for us and for Viteos’ employees.
But that was where our role, together with our partners from CreativMinds, experts in Digital Communication and Collaboration, became even more relevant.
The importance of Communication
Before jumping straight into our use case, let us take two steps back to focus on the importance of Communication and understand to what extent it can influence business performance and growth.
There are many ways to know how healthy a corporate communication environment is. Starting with assessing:
- Employees’ happiness
- Employees’ sense of belonging to the company
- Company culture
Just to get a glimpse of how important this topic can be, lack of proper communication directly impacts employees’ sense of belonging which, according to this report, changes with age. Losing (or not gaining at all) a sense of belonging usually starts with a lack of communication or frequent misunderstandings within a specific corporate environment.
A sense of belonging (or, in this case, the lack of it) was one of the reasons behind Viteo’s communication challenges – “The corporate identity on employees is not as deep-rooted as it could be due to the diversity of services and various mergers of other industrial services”, according to Frédéric, Digital Project Manager at Viteos.
So yes, there are still communication barriers in the Era of digital tools such as Teams, Slack, or WhatsApp and diversity is one of them.
In fact, technology does not fix everything, and it is not always an enabler. It is far from being the obvious solution to all problems. On the contrary: tool adoption is considered the number one challenge of the Modern Workplace when it comes to technology.
So, what can we do about it? How can we make sure that our organizations are able to overcome these challenges, especially when made of such a diverse audience? The answer lies in understanding how people work – how they think, how they make decisions, what motivates them, and why they act the way they do within a particular context. Always keep in mind the context.
Being a consulting firm that specializes in helping diverse businesses adopt modern communication technologies, Stellium is used to address these challenges, and our internal expertise was crucial to this use case.
But there was something else needed before elaborating a digital strategy on how to optimize digital communication channels and technologies – and that is when CreativMinds joins the mission.
It was obvious that a change in internal communication was needed but it was also necessary to understand what triggered the existing gaps and where the challenge was born.
According to Frédéric, there was a clear need for Viteos to define a new communication strategy and ensure their employees:
- Understand and adhere to the actions carried out by the company
- Be duly informed of the progress of the strategic roadmap
- Stay motivated in their daily lives
- Actively participate in the business
However, to do so – develop a communication strategy that works for everyone – there are certain elements that must be taken into consideration as stated by Nadège, the CEO of CreativMinds:
“Company culture is the first thing that needs to be assessed, understood, and respected. After that, we need to figure out who are the people who need to have information and what type of info should be communicated, and by whom. Everyone should be an active part of the communication and not just absorb information.”
Where there is the need to address diversity, there is a need for alignment and understanding of what fits whom.
Stellium and CreativMinds soon realized that conducting collaborative workshops was the perfect fit for this client’s needs.
As Nadège explained to the client “Collaborative workshops are particularly important because you have every stakeholder in the same room, everyone can say what they feel and think, as well as challenge each other. This way we can build the solution collaboratively, that will fit everyone is needs or at least make sure everyone is considered/involved.”
These workshops helped us translate the problems raised by us and the client into concrete real-life situations. Plus, they represented the one opportunity for white and blue collars to be together in the same room and discuss at the same level.
The sessions resulted in the draft of a complex (and complete) report with a new communication strategy proposal and an ambitious roadmap to meet Viteos’ issues.
Within it, there is a combination of digital and traditional communication as the best approach to meet all stakeholders’ needs. This blended communication together with internal training and improved field communication tools is already creating an impact on the company culture and increasing employees’ sense of belonging.
Finding the right tools and communication approach while fighting the silos was only possible due to this workshop methodology and joint work between Stellium and CreativMinds, with great collaboration from Viteos’ representatives, to whom we thank a lot for agreeing on sharing their particular use case.
If this use case talks to you, do not hesitate to get in touch and challenge us with your own challenge – we will break it down for you.
Viteos is a Swiss energy company, very active in the development of renewable energies and offers to its customers solutions to implement the energy transition. With more than 350 employees serving its over 100,000 customers, Viteos is fundamentally rooted in its region and supports local life through various commitments. It is responsible for the supply and management of water, electricity, natural gas, district heating, and district cooling networks in the majority of the canton of Neuchâtel.
Specializing in digital transformation & change management for several years, we are helping organization users to get the most business value out of the new digital projects. We use modern analysis techniques, to ensure the success of digitalization projects, from gathering business requirements, in straight connection with the technical teams during the realization to driving user adoption using change management.