- In order to effectively communicate their corporate mission, vision and values to employees, employers need to utilize multi-channel communications, incorporate the mission/vision/values into their employee recognition programs, allow for employee participation, align the mission/vision/values with company practice, and ensure the mission/vision/values are actionable for employees.
- In-person ways for companies to educate their employees about the mission/vision/values include doing so via an escape room or a brand-inspired tasting menu.
- Creative digital ways that companies are educating employees about their mission/vision/values include via interactive digital campaigns, podcasts, and virtual events.
Below, the research team has identified five best practices for employers to effectively communicate their mission/values/vision to employees, as well as identified five innovative ways companies are doing so in practice.
Best Practices for Companies to Communicate their Mission/Values to Employees
- Experts recommend utilizing a variety of channels to communicate the company mission, vision and values to ensure that all employees are repeatedly exposed to it.
- Smarp states that mission/vision/values communications must reach employees at all levels of the company via digital internal communications channels.
- Part of this communication should be visual. According to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Netflix's culture deck, which is a 124-slide presentation illustrating Netflix's core values and why they are important, is "the most important document ever to come out of the Valley."
- More tangible items should also reflect the company mission, values and vision, such as company swag (t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc).
- Experts recommend highlighting employees that are living up to or reflecting the company mission/values in the workplace through an employee recognition program.
- When recognizing employees for their good work, it is important to specifically cite how their behaviors align with company values.
- According to Evan Roth or Roth Consultancy International, LLC: "Leaders need to visibly and tangibly recognize when company values are demonstrated by employees. Public praise highlighting the actions driven by values can be effective."
- Emilio González of ActionCOACH Business Coaching states: "Create awards based on these values. They can be established annually or quarterly. The award or medal to the member who demonstrated "Creativity," "Teamwork" or "Excellence" can be configured with the values, as companies like Domino’s Pizza do worldwide."
Allow for Employee Participation
- Experts recommend creating space for employees to participate in creating or maintaining the company mission and vision.
- For example, at Hubspot, employee are allowed to access a wide range of executive level materials (such as company financials and board meeting presentations) so they can participate in decision-making and help "develop new ways to bring organizational values to life."
- Experts also stress soliciting feedback on the company mission and vision and how that is being presented to employees.
Align Values with Practice
- Businesses must ensure that their actions align with their mission and values in order for employees to buy into the value and reflect it in their everyday behavior.
- According to The Big Picture People, "Leaders and managers must role model the behaviors that they expect their people to perform. Without this consistency between words and action, credible leadership and the change project will dissipate rapidly, and resistance will grow."
- According to Leann Wolff of Great Outcomes Consulting: "Frame every announcement and every decision in the context of the company values. If managers and senior leaders actually use the values in their work and decisions, articulating how the values fit will be natural and effective reinforcement. Employees generally struggle with values when their managers' decisions and actions don't align."
Ensure Mission and Values are Actionable
- Experts recommend that companies not only communicate the mission/vision/values, but also communicate how employees can take action upon the mission/vision/values and incorporate them into their everyday activities.
- MIT Sloan Management Review recommends that companies "provid[e] concrete guidance on desired behavior, ensuring their organizational values are distinctive, and linking them to outcomes that matter to employees."
- RetailMinded recommends brainstorming between three to five behaviors per company value that best model each value.
The research team identified best-practices based on those that were mentioned by two or more reputable publications.
- Southwest Airlines created the Hospitality Heroes program in order to encourage employees to "keep their personality in the hospitality for which [Southwest is] famous". This aligns directly with Southwest's mission: "connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel."
- The program included an online psychometric profiler tool for Southwest employees to "identify their own kind of hospitality — how they like to show hospitality and how they like to receive it — and helped to shift the customer service conversation from transactional service behaviors to hospitality full of personality."
- Creatively, the tool also included a selfie function that employees could use to highlight and share their profiler results as well as a boxed kit employees received with Hospitality Heroes branded swag.
- The campaign was promoted by a range of executive and leadership communications about the program. Additionally, executives were able to utilize the results of the campaign through an "insight dashboard," which they used to "make insight-driven decisions about hospitality across the airline."
- This campaign was identified as a best-in-class example of connecting employees to the company mission for two reasons. First, it was noted as "highly commended" by Communications Magazine in their 2019 Internal Communications and Engagement Awards for the Best Internal Communications Campaign category. Second, the campaign received an impressive 30% participation rate within the first month of launch.
- Images, including the selfies, screenshots of the quiz, and the Hospitality Heroes kits, can be seen here.
Coca-Cola North America
- Coca-Cola North America created the Total Refresh Podcast to "inspire employees and spark meaningful points of connection across Coca-Cola North America, as well as strengthening employees’ sense of community and modeling the company’s growth culture."
- The podcast features unscripted interviews with Coca-Cola executives and was developed with the goal of communicating Coca-Cola's strategic vision and restructuring as a 'total beverage company'.
- The podcast format was specifically selected by Coca-Cola in order to reach all their employees — including those without regular access to a computer, such as truck drivers. The podcast was promoted via other channels such as the company newsletter, team meetings, digital signage, and facility communications.
- This was selected as a best-in-class example because it was won the 2020 award for best employee communications podcast by Ragan PR. It also had an impressive download rate of almost 11,000 for the first seven episodes and listeners listen to 90% of each episode.
- The podcast can be listened to here.
- When Mastercard underwent an external rebranding, they needed to bring employees up to speed and ensure that employees felt involved in the rebranding efforts. As such, Mastercard launched their internal multi-sensory brand experience.
- This included an "intranet story featuring the subject matter expert on logos" that was released alongside the new brand logo release and an audio press-release that featured the new sonic logo.
- Additionally, employees and their families were able to take advantage of a discounted rate at the Priceless restaurant in New York City. Lastly, headquarters employees were "treated to a macaroon tasting that embodied the taste of the brand."
- This was identified as an innovative example because it won best rebranding campaign at Ragan's Employee Communications Awards.
- The sonic brand can be heard here and information on the Priceless restaurant can be found here.
Bristol Myers Squibb
- Bristol Myers Squibb was undergoing a rebranding during the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work. In order to promote this rebranding effort to their employees despite the pandemic, BMS launched a comprehensive, phased campaign on multiple channels including "internal channels like the BMS 360 intranet, Yammer and digital signage, [and] external channels as well."
- The new branding was launched via a "Reveal Day" which included a branded hashtag and global virtual town hall event. At the same time, the employee intranet and portals were rebranded. Lastly, the company utilized brand ambassadors to share the new message.
- This rebranding was a crucial shift in the vision and mission of BMS. Through the internal rebranding, BMS needed to make clear how the new mission — "transforming patients’ lives through science" — can be upheld by employees "put[ting] the patient at the center of everything they do."
- This was selected as a best-in-class example because it won the Rebranding Campaign’ category of Ragan’s 2021 Employee Communications Awards.
- In 2018, after having to reduce their workforce, Whirlpool wanted to make their employee event extra special. Therefore, they developed "a special escape room to deliver a unique experience to employees, who could escape only if they knew the company strategy (grounded in the idea of thinking differently and acting quickly)."
- The company created hype for the event via a two-week teaser campaign that ran while the room was being constructed. Once the room was ready to go, they held "one-hour sessions in which up to a dozen employees participated. These sessions were held up to six times every day (extended two weeks beyond its original closing date due to popular demand)."
- The escape room challenge was this: "NAR’s president had gone missing; his administrative assistant had to find him for a call with the CEO. The experience required teams to work together to solve puzzles connected to the strategy—but also required them to think differently and act quickly. Upon escape, they saw a video message that showed the call with the CEO. Those completing the challenge on time received commemorative T-shirts."
- This was selected as a best-in-class example due to the high participation rate of the campaign, which had more than 1,000 employees complete the challenge with a 69% success rate. It was also awarded first place in the Event category of Ragan’s 2018 Employee Communications Awards.
In order to identify innovative examples of how brands communicate their mission and values to employees and integrate these into company culture, the research team focused on the winners of many internal communications awards. From these awards, such as the Ragan Award and the Internal Communications and Engagement Awards from Communicate Magazine, the research team was able to identify best-in-class, creative examples of how brands connect their employees to their brand mission. We focused on North American consumer-facing brands that had won awards within the last two years. However, we also included a 2018 campaign by Whirlpool as it was extraordinarily creative and still relatively recent (three years old).