Got an internal communication conundrum? How about letting your employees take the driver’s seat?

Published on
September 9, 2013

Many companies grapple with internal communication and cultural challenges, and spend a lot of money trying to make it work. Challenges are magnified for those with national or international operations, remote locations, and diverse teams ranging from corporate to the operational front-line. Achieving consistent cut-through on the things that ‘head office’ needs people to know—let alone successfully embedding change far from the source—can be hard work.

This fantastic safety video is an outstanding example of co-creation, putting the communication solution in the hands of those with day-to-day responsibility for implementation. Here, it’s a workplace issue that affects them all—and which can literally be a matter of life or death. Over to the stars of Weatherford International’s Rig 9—somewhere far from HQ—to tell their tale …

The RADAR video has been a big hit in the mining and safety industry, and communication people like me are using it as a show-and-tell for how well things can be done. It’s probably also given Weatherford a significant reputational and profile boost as an employer, whether or not that was an intentional goal.

Like any company in this sector, safety is undoubtedly one of Weatherford International’s key workforce considerations, and one of their biggest corporate risks. As one of the largest global providers of drilling and related services to the oil and natural gas industry, their teams work in some far-flung spots in inherently dangerous jobs. There are safety rules and many policies and procedures, but how to make compliance ‘real’, engaging, and keep it front-of-mind for busy people?

In this case, co-creation was the answer. The Rig 9 team led the charge to promote Weatherford’s GEMS (Get Everyone Managing Safety), following a serious injury to one of their colleagues. It was their initiative, developed with one of their relatives working in multimedia. It works so well because it’s sassy, funny, simple, seriously catchy, inclusive, and the message packs a punch. Who’d want to drive like a tool, end up getting fired, or go home in a big brown box?

Now used across the company as part of induction, its value lies in more than its safety objectives. Weatherford’s culture shines through, and it says a lot about the importance of employee wellbeing to the company. The camaraderie and tasks of a drill rig crew are highlighted, as is the reliance on workmates and leaders to be watching your back and doing the right thing. Best of all, it’s by employees, for employees.

My team and I work on a diverse range of internal and change communication strategies, and always look for ways to hook employees and their ideas into the process. Thinking outside the square for compliance-based communication—so often a slog to get people genuinely engaged in and excited about—can really pay off. Co-creation doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and its broader cultural and engagement benefits can be manifold. I’m pretty sure Weatherford International would agree.