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2017 in Review: Customer Experience, Leader Brands, and Master Narratives

While many leaders use the months of December and January as a time to reflect, vision, and plan, Livewire’s leadership team gets the luxury of an extra 31 days. Instead of the calendar year-end, our fiscal year-end is at the end of January. Looking back, these are a few things we’ve observed about the state of business and communications.  

Over the past few years, our most common mandate has been to develop strategies and plans that communicate change throughout organizations. This has included role, process, and structure change and has been driven by a variety of objectives including the digitization of business processes, improving organizational effectiveness, finding cost efficiencies, and creating a more differentiated customer experience.

The greatest shift in our work has been the increased attention given to the employee experience. Clients across all sectors, from financial services to manufacturing, are responding to the intensified war for talent.  There is a broad recognition that having a clearly articulated employment value proposition, and an employer brand that is communicated strategically to all prospective, current, and in some cases, past employees, is critical to hiring and retaining the best talent. This work extends throughout the entire employee lifecycle from early recruitment communications through onboarding, ongoing engagement, and alumni interactions.

This increased attention on the employer brand has been accompanied by an emerging focus on establishing personal brands for leaders. Last year, our team led the process of defining the leader brands for two incoming CEOs and developing the communications strategies and plans to navigate the transition of leadership in both organizations. The process for doing this involved identifying the distinct attributes and current perceptions of both the outgoing and incoming leaders and outlining the degrees of change that employees will experience following the transition. Three-stage communication plans are often established, to evolve the new leader from initial familiarization, through the first 100-days and into the post-100-day communication phases.

Another trend that became more prominent last year was the need to craft and communicate the company (or line of business) master narrative to all employees. Telling your story is critical to inspire and align the entire workforce to a common goal, ensuring employees understand their unique purpose in driving progress towards leadership’s vision for the organization. Context, consistency and continuity is key, as is leadership’s alignment in how this narrative is communicated, and how stories are used to provide a sense of progress towards the future state.

The challenge that surfaces through all of this work is identifying the best ways to reach employees, especially those that are not in desk roles, and how to provide ongoing, relevant and engaging messaging while reducing the amount of communication noise that exists in the organization.  The use of traditional and high-touch tactics like town halls is still critical, however they need to be integrated with social and mobile channels that facilitate company-wide conversations where senior and mid-level leaders can interact with employees across the entire workforce, wherever they are.

It’s an exciting time for an agency focused on leader and employee communications, giving us the opportunity to bring our team’s strategic, creative, and technical capabilities together to solve some of today’s most pressing business challenges. We are looking forward to working on them in 2018 with our clients and partners.

From all of us at Livewire, Happy New Year!

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