The data-driven approach that empowered employee communications at Electrolux

The data-driven approach that empowered employee communications at Electrolux
Photo by Clayton Cardinalli on Unsplash

Data analytics is certainly not limited only to dedicated BI or analytics departments. Harnessing big data and adopting a data-driven approach to their operations can prove beneficial to other departments as well and enable them to improve how they work. This is the case with Electrolux and their Internal Communications Department – a success story we learnt at last year’s Nordic People Analytics Summit.

David Thompson, Director of Digital Publishing & Platforms at Electrolux, narrated how they discovered the power of a data-driven approach combining internal communications data and HR data to optimise their employee communications activities and endeavours at the Nordic People Analytics Summit 2019.

David Thompson, Director of Digital Publishing & Platforms at Electrolux
Photo by Hyperight AB® / All rights reserved.

Electrolux employs about 23.000 salaried online employees globally, served by their HR and Internal Communications Departments. As part of a large organisation – one of the largest white goods manufacturers in the world, Electrolux makes great endeavours to keep internal communications on a high level and propagate important announcements. On that note, from May 2018 to May 2019, they had published 1.900 pieces of employee news on their intranet, related David. Their communications endeavours allow them to capture and analyse engagement data and then draw insights to enhance their employee communications.

David Thompson, Director of Digital Publishing & Platforms at Electrolux
Photo by Hyperight AB® / All rights reserved.

What benefits Electrolux saw from their data-driven approach to communications

Admittedly, they have seen some major benefits after harnessing the data from their communications efforts. 

One of the first and most obvious is, of course, insights into the top-read stories, the most commented, liked and shared posts. But they’ve also discovered crucial insights as to the type of pages different types of audience read the most. They also use insights to optimise news pieces based on their viewership and performance. Data also played a crucial role in sourcing trends to include in stories.

Looking at historical data, David also describes how they were able to make some really relevant decisions on what to display on their homepage.

The data-driven approach that empowered employee communications at Electrolux
Photo by Myriam Jessier on Unsplash 

And probably the most importantly, they were able to precisely pinpoint issues related to engagement drops, like the steep decline in comments, by referring to the data from that period and fixing the software issue in the system.

Finally, working with data helped Electrolux’s Internal Communications department to establish some KPIs. However, David admits that the process was long and painstaking, involving a heap of various tools and siloed systems. Luckily for them, digital transformation and the cloud entered the stage in 2017 and made a massive shift in how they worked.

Enter the age of digital and cloud

The start of the digital transformation and moving to the cloud proved really instrumental for their Communications Department to get rid of the siloed platforms and centralise data. With the introduction of their new intranet, they could avail themselves of a targeted publishing system and present the right content to the right people from the right functions of the business. But in order to do that, they had to work with HR and their people data to set up the needed architecture, explains David.

As he says, they needed to get the building block of their intranet data and it wasn’t an easy endeavour at all. Some of the things that this transformation included were:

  • Aligning people data – The growth through acquisitions in the past and spreading in 61 countries around the world means very different HR systems with data that may not be aligned with one another. The first thing to solve was finding ways to more simply integrate people data from HR systems with intranet publishing. Once aligned, Exectrolux could match their talent management data with their identity management system and active directory and sync with their intranet for accurate content distribution and information management.
  • Managing taxonomy – In order to establish standardised taxonomy, Communications collaborated with HR to create a managed taxonomy based on organisational structure, job architecture and locations and harmonise terms.
  • Building communication channels based on taxonomy so they could target and map the content to individual employees.
  • Strategic themes – In order to support the company strategy and business model, they created a managed set of strategic themes, such as Customer Experience (Taste), Customer Experience (Care), Customer Experience (Wellbeing), Profitable Growth, Sustainability, Growth, Digital Transformation, Operational Excellence, Talent & Teamship, etc. Every piece of news or leadership blog published on Electrolux’s intranet has a strategic theme associated with it.
  • Integrated social – And lastly, they aggregate their social media postings through one platform.
The data-driven approach that empowered employee communications at Electrolux
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

How data supported strategy and cultural change while making it super simple 

A critical aspect in this whole data-driven transformation was to keep things super simple, stated David. As they don’t have a bespoke BI or data analytics team, all dashboards needed to take into account several success factors like clear visualisation, making it easy for non-stat users to use and comprehend them and providing training. This enabled the Communications team to spend less time making custom analyses and tweaking reports and focus on more qualitative analysis and talk to relevant people to look at the content.

The Electrolux Communications team also established several KPIs so they can measure the results of their endeavours. They measure readership, engagements, follow set targets or the main organisational areas and functions. All these stats are integrated into General Management quarterly reports, reposts to Communications Heads and editorial reviews, as well as their HR Executive Committee on a monthly basis, so all stakeholders are informed about the insights and results.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash 

Results and lessons learnt from implementing the data-driven approach to employee communications at Electrolux.

After connecting all dots in the data value chain, Electrolux saw some impressive results. Namely, David related that they experienced substantial growth in the views per month, average views per person, audience reach and engagement. Additionally, the majority of their business functions were above their set targets.

But apart from the favourable results, the Communications department can drill down in the data behind the low numbers for certain published news and find out the reason why some pieces are not performing well compared to others. And conversely, they can explore the reasons for the positive response to certain pieces of news.

What they learnt on their journey

As a final point in his comprehensive presentation, David shared the most valuable learnings they got out of the whole data-driven journey:

  • Big data can be used for more than counting views.
  • Trying things out the old-school way in Excel beforehand can give you the requirements you need to build your new intranet or another type of platform.
  • Aligning your taxonomy with your organisational structure and job architecture is a crucial step.
  • Get your people data from one source and update it frequently.
  • Create unique taxonomies to support strategic themes or company-wide programmes and initiatives.
  • Keep it simple to encourage adoption. 

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