Manulife - Communications Research Campaign

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2016, Click to Enter The 2017 Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer service

Company: Manulife, Toronto, ON Canada
Company Description: Manulife is a leading international financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States where we have served customers for more than 100 years. At the end of 2016, we had approximately 35,000 employees, 70,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving more than 22 million customers.
Nomination Category: Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, & Public Relations Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications or PR Campaign/Program of the Year - Communications Research

Nomination Title: Manulife's 2016 Global Employee Communications Survey

Tell the story about this nominated campaign since 1 January 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Faced with the unique, rapidly changing needs of 35,000+ employees based in 19 different countries, Manulife’s Internal Communications department went where it had never gone before and canvassed the company’s entire global workforce.

Our employees across Canada, the U.S. and Asia make up a very diverse audience – so we know there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to global communications. But our legacy approach (‘if we publish, they’ll read’) wasn’t working. We needed to take the time to understand the language, cultural and technology barriers faced by each region, as well as variations in preference for content and channels.

In August 2016, we undertook our first-ever global communications survey. Our key priorities were to:

1)Establish a baseline measurement for internal communications.
2)Understand our employees better – what content do they enjoy, and which channels do they prefer to receive it on?
3) Leverage the results to improve global and regional internal communications.

How do you give employees what they want, if you’ve never asked what they want? This was the driving question behind our decision to run a global communications survey. Previously, many of our content and distribution decisions were being driven by traditional practices and the opinions of a relatively small circle of communications professionals. Our existing communications measurement methodology was providing shallow information about page views and engagement, and in some cases, no information at all (for example, our internal TV screens). We needed to establish a baseline and learn what content and channels were resonating with our employees – and what we could do to improve.

Our first step was to bring in the experts. We met with our third-party communications advisory service (CEB) to learn about industry best practices, then worked with our global communications partners and channel owners to understand regional or business area nuances that impacted our methodology, including participant data collection and the survey questions themselves.

Each employee received a personal email invitation to participate in the survey in one of our company’s nine official languages. We cross-promoted it on our intranet and TV screens, while also leveraging our global communications leads to drive participation through region-specific initiatives – for example, Vietnam ran a contest; Indonesia posted a link on their Facebook at Work page; and Japan called on leaders to encourage their teams to participate.

We received 11,553 responses to the survey (roughly 30% of employees) and over 15,000 verbatim responses. While in an ideal world we would achieved a 100% response rate, we were delighted with the level of quality and detail in the responses we did receive. This has provided us with an absolute wealth of information that has extended beyond the communications realm. We have had the opportunity to share our findings and results with not only each of our communications teams in Canada, the U.S. and Asia, but also our business colleagues and partners in Investment Division, Advanced Analytics, Corporate Strategy, Culture and HR.

We collaborated with Analytics to organize the survey results, splicing the data in a myriad of ways to suit the needs of all our stakeholders – from global overviews to tailored reports for each region and business area. Much of the data we could easily map onto graphs and separate by demographic; for the verbatims, we leveraged a customer-experience tracking tool called Clarabridge to sift out broad-based employee sentiments.

The survey responses were a great start in better understanding our employees – but we wanted to drill deeper. We’re now using the key insights from the survey to drive more employee focus groups across our global operations – from Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal and Boston in North America to China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan in Asia.

Next steps? We will reconnect with the same focus groups in six months for a pulse check, and run another full global communications survey in August 2017 to get year-over-year analysis on progress and improvements.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief features and results of this nominated PR program since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

-Established baseline measurement for internal communications globally. Produced 20 customized reports of the survey for communications teams worldwide, tailored specifically to their specific division/country and channels. It’s also proving foundational for Marketing Operations measuring the impact and ROI of internal employee communications.
-Understand our employees better—content and channel preferences, readership habits, regional nuances spliced by division/country.
-New and improved content strategies. We are better positioned to deliver the right message, to the right people, in the right way, at the right time. Survey results continue to drive innovative approaches and effectiveness of communications.
-Better informed resource allocation—focus budget and efforts on channels/content that employees say matter most to them.
-Impact beyond internal communications. The survey results are being incorporated into projects like Customer Experience Training for employees, HR’s plans to evolve the workplace culture into what employees want it to be, and new employee onboarding programs.