We are excited to announce that we won a Gold Award for our internal communications work with our longest-standing client Harry Fairclough Construction at last week’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Yorkshire & Lincolnshire PRide Awards 2018. We beat off competition in the Internal Communications category from one of the North of England’s leading internal comms agencies with a campaign for Leeds United FC’s current sponsor Utilita.

This follows our Gold Award for Community Relations at the event in 2016 (we took a year off entering in 2017) and is the first time we’ve been recognised with an award for our work in the field of internal comms, which is an area of rapid growth for us as we see increasing demand for and recognition of its importance for clients across a range of sectors from education and skills to construction and manufacturing.

Harry Fairclough is a construction firm with a 120-year history and ambitious growth plans for the future. Since a new management team took over 10 years ago, it has grown rapidly and expanded from its base in the North West across the North of England, opening a second office in Yorkshire in 2012. The company prides itself on its long-standing, loyal team, its flat management structure, and its site-centric approach. However, as the company grows, geographically spreads, and diversifies, this brings challenges with more staff working across multiple sites. Bringing in new talent to aid its growth also makes it more difficult to retain the ‘family feel’ of the company whereby many long-standing team members have worked their way up from the bottom over many years and are even used to working with actual family members. 

With internal communications becoming increasingly challenging, Engage Comms was tasked with coming up with a strategy and implementing a set of tactics which, in tandem with wider external marketing activity, would help to achieve the overall objectives of: 

  • Increase employee engagement and retention in a changing environment, particularly interaction with teams across different sites/departments 
  • Increase cross-selling capability to secure more new business more easily
  • Help to attract new talent, including referrals from existing team members 
  • Maximise return on investment in the new company website and other proactive external marketing/business development activities by actively engaging/involving team members from across the business in content development/sharing 

As a first step, we designed and carried out a staff survey to assess the current state of internal communications and staff levels of satisfaction with it. This also allowed us to build up an authentic picture of how current employees experience working at the firm to shape the new employer branding/recruitment strategy, as well as create a meaningful and impactful internal communications campaign. The survey identified that many long-standing team members had begun to feel disengaged from other departments/work happening on sites they were not involved in, and that new starters were unaware of the great work going on across the firm, making it hard for them to act as ‘ambassadors’. However, there was no appetite for lots of regular communication coming from central marketing that they didn’t have the time or willingness to digest. 

The internal communications strategy was based on the objectives and insight from the staff survey with a focus on simplicity, clarity, and celebration of success to boost morale, engagement, and cross-team working. The strategy was brought to life through a new ‘Employee Value Proposition’ which identified what is unique and special about working at the firm and what values the team embodies. The strategy was implemented through: 

  • Internal workshops
  • Monthly staff e-newsletter
  • Intranet content
  • On-site printed materials (for those who access the intranet and emails less regularly)
  • Staff involvement in new website development, launch, and ongoing web activity
  • 120th anniversary campaign

By keeping things simple (including cutting out unnecessary design and print costs), utilising existing communications channels/tools, and making the internal communications campaign fully integrated with wider external marketing and business development activities, we were able to deliver a robust strategy with clear outcomes for a relatively low cost, which was mainly made up of our consultancy fees. Because the campaign was so outcomes focused, it contributed to significant cost savings in recruitment and business development by providing user-friendly content for staff to share with prospective employees and clients.

Phil Harris, Director, Harry Fairclough Group, said: “Having worked as an extension of our team for several years, Engage Comms know our business inside-out. This meant that when it came to improving internal communications, they were on the front foot and could truly engage team members in the process, making the tactics they implemented have a much greater impact.”

The CIPR judges said: “Research with employees provided a solid basis for this campaign and resulted in a strong implementation of a wider range of tactics. This campaign demonstrated good measurement and evaluation, all within a cost-effective budget, which truly impressed the judges.” You can read the full winning award entry here: https://ciprawards.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/02_Engage-Comms-and-Harry-Fairclough-Construction.pdf

Want help with improving your internal communications from an award-winning team? Get in touch!