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How Safeway put its workers on camera to improve engagement

This guest post is by Miri Zena McDonald, a strategic communications consultant. Miri tweets at @miri_orgchange. She attended the Marcus Evans 6th Annual Employee Engagement and Internal Communications Conference in Orlando.

Safeway has about 1,700 stores across the U.S. and Canada, and about 186,000 employees in 10 regional divisions. Dan Pryor, vice president of corporate communications, said a key part of the communication department’s mission is to build the channels for communication, not just create content. To do that, he created a employee portal that includes a number of sophisticated features. The content is customized based on user groups, and managers can easily share content with their districts. The portal also includes social media features, such as the ability to post comments and rate content with a “thumbs up” or thumbs down.”

Given the nature of the grocery business, many employees don’t  have regular access to computers at work. Pryor turned to video in the break rooms to address this challenge, creating videos to share news, as well as highlight programs related to recycling, community involvement and customer service.

The company recently launched a video campaign called “Real Retail” to promote the company’s vision and mission through true stories about employees. As part of his presentation, Pryor shared one of the videos, which emphasized going above and beyond for customers. It featured a a bakery department worker who personally delivered a cake to a customer’s house because she had a flat tire and needed the cake for a big part that day. Pryor shared that each of these videos only cost about $5,000 to produce. “Employees like hearing their co-workers real stories and it has helped us explain our mission in a creative and easy-to-understand way.”

Pryor shared his tips for creating a video series:

  • Use managers and employees as presenters, not actors.
  • Provide presentation skills training. Most people have never been filmed before and need training before going in front of a camera.
  • Track attendance and usage to find out how many people are using the video.
  • Market the video events internally to boost viewership.
  • Create engagement through polls and tests. Continue the conversation after the video is viewed to reinforce messaging.
  • Make the content compelling.