We live and work in an environment where businesses are often viewed with skepticism at best. To all of the business leaders out there: your most powerful allies are often your employees. Have you given them what they need to do their jobs, and to support the company mission?
When you take the time to educate your employees on 1) who you serve (who are your customers?), and 2) the value you create, you will find that they can become a voice of reason in their communities and wherever people gather. They can describe the value business can bring to society. Having a mission or vision that your employees can get behind is very important.
I’m an advocate for utilizing communications in all of its forms in helping employees understand your business and their role in the success of the enterprise. Communications can and should take many forms: verbal, written (intranet, social, email, documents), audio/video, meetings, etc.
During the Aetna Turnaround, and previously when I worked at Wellpoint (now Anthem), I used content in the form of interactive learning maps. Essentially large posters that each explained a critical concept of our business, these maps were part of a business literacy initiative at Aetna. The leadership team agreed that getting every employee on the same page about the fundamental aspects of our business was important to our future success. We brought together all employees, from every part of the company, to come together in interactive, educational sessions over the course of several months that included learning how our business can affect employees, customers and shareholders. With “playing cards” that focused on Learning Goals for the workshops, the Value We Provide Constituents, and the Aetna Values, employees came away from the sessions engaged and uplifted by what they learned.
These posters were also available in visible locations so employees could see them, and we created intranet-based learning as well. The Knowledge Maps were part of a “Back to Basics” campaign that I believe was critical to our turnaround, in part because we made sure every employee had the ability and knowledge to take the trip with us.