Are your employee communications emotional enough?




Huw Morgan

A brilliant creative idea can transform the fortunes of a brand and business. It can unlock innovation, make a product famous and turn challenges into opportunities. It can also work its magic to invigorate content, experiences and communications inside and outside an organisation.

Creativity is easy to recognise when we experience it in our favourite ads, art, movies, TV, restaurants and music, but it’s less common in employee communications than it should be.

Sometimes this is due to tight budgets or limited in-house creative expertise. But often it’s because many organisations lean towards rational, email-driven communications when they want to land messages with staff. 

The problem with rational campaigns that rely heavily on email is that, whilst they might be perceived by the board as efficient, the overwhelming evidence suggests they simply don’t cut through. In fact, recent research found that over 60% of employees ignore email communications from their company.

There are lots of  marketing studies that prove the most effective communications are those appealing to our emotions rather than our logic. Emotion-based communications work because they are more engaging, memorable and help build positive perceptions of the voice behind them.

In his book, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman  showed the way we make decisions is based on feeling and emotion, so communications that make connections on this level are always more effective than rational-based ones.

Over 60% of employees ignore email communications from thier company 

Emotion Unlocks Action

When we interact with emotion-based creative content it can make us happy, sad, afraid, surprised, or even angry. Ultimately, it makes us care about the subject matter more and can motivate us to act. 

Turning strategy into action is the mission of any ambitious employee engagement team, so investing in creative campaigning to stimulate action should be a priority. At its best, creativity can be the difference between people embracing an internal initiative or ignoring it (and wasting your investment).

Creativity is a valuable commodity, but, as anyone who has ever endured a meandering brainstorm – or squirmed while watching Alan Partridge’s iconic Monkey Tennis clip – will recognise, great creative ideas are rarely plucked out of thin air.

The inspiration behind the best creative ideas is generally driven by a mix of creative talent, targeted research, persistence and lots of relevant data.

Magic Ingredients: data, strategy and ideas

When I joined the VCCP Partnership to work for Good Relations a few years ago, I was reminded of the data and creative work murals I used to see on the walls when I visited previously in my time as a client working for O2.

They reflect the truth that great campaigns are only possible if time and expertise is invested in getting every step of the process right, from research to strategy to execution.

The vital, inter-connecting roles of insight, strategy and creativity are reflected in my team’s three-phased approach to employee engagement campaigning – ‘Listen’, ‘Lead’ and ‘Live it’.

Our ‘Listen’ phase helps us to gain a deep understanding of the company culture and the needs of the employee and also helps us to get a better perspective of the engagement challenge. We take time at this stage to identify the business impacts an engagement campaign needs to drive.

The ‘Lead’ phase is all about applying the analysis of our data and insight to develop a targeted communications strategy and plan. At this point, we start developing communications assets to support company leaders and influencers in fulfilling their campaign roles. 

Finally, ‘Live it’ is the fun bit where we develop and craft the creative elements of the campaign that will bring strategy to life. Our campaigns are always built around a core creative concept; an overarching idea that runs across messages, channels and activations. 

Investing in Insight

Landing a winning creative, campaign-enhancing concept takes time, patience, collaboration and a true understanding of the employee that’s driven by research and data.

In my experience, the time invested up front is worth it, because it really does unlock the creativity that gives engagement campaigns the best possible chance of grabbing the attention of employees, appealing to their emotions, inspiring them to take positive action and achieving lasting impact. 

Perhaps that’s why Monkey Tennis hasn’t caught on?

Check out some of our creative engagement campaigns here.

Want to discuss how we can help with your internal communications & employee engagement? Get in touch or read more about our services here.

Huw Morgan
Huw Morgan

Director, Internal Communications

Huw's passion is for targeted campaigns that bring brand strategy and purpose to life from the inside out. Huw has a wealth of client-side experience leading colleague engagement for major brands, including Telefonica Digital, Virgin Media and O2.

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Huw Morgan

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