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CASE STUDY: Me + We: how Welsh Water kept its family together in a pandemic

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CASE STUDY: Me + We: how Welsh Water kept its family together in a pandemic

It was a story repeated in organisations across the globe in 2020.

A workforce and workplace turned upside down, inside out and back-to-front by the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Welsh Water, the lockdown created a fundamental shift in how the company’s people were distributed and worked.

2,000 staff began working from home, almost overnight, and for a close-knit company with a strong family feeling, there was a need to retain that sense of belonging as they began to navigate and understand this ‘new normal’.

 

Caroline Rowlands, Head of Internal Communications at Welsh Water, said:

“We were managing to retain a flow of communications, but wanted people to continue to feel connected and prevent any feelings of isolation.

“Our challenge was to maintain our family feeling and keep people motivated, while providing support and hopefully a bit of fun and enjoyment along the way.”

 

The Welsh Water approach was to hold three campaign weeks, each with a different, but very relevant, area of focus.

Alive were brought in to help plan and populate the weeks, as well as provide the important creative concept that brought the three campaigns together.

An overarching identity was developed – Me + We – capturing the reality of individuals working apart but still remaining part of the collective culture.

The first campaign week

– focused on resilience – one of 2020’s biggest buzzwords.

The week’s objectives were to offer reassurance to people, increase awareness of available support and bring the subject of wellbeing to the fore.

Events for the week ranged from a randomised meeting generator to match people for coffee catch-ups to a webinar with former Welsh rugby captain Sam Warburton.

Caroline said:

“Feedback for the week was universally positive. One member of staff said the session featuring Sam Warburton had been his best day in 20 years at the company!”

The second campaign week

– tackled another of 2020’s key working challenges – technology.

Understanding that the sudden changes in working conditions and environment had not been an easy transition for everyone, the week focused on recognising this shift, crucially using a dash of the Welsh Water brand of humour and humanity.

It also signalled the arrival of the organisation’s very own radio station, which took over the airwaves on the final Friday of the week, playing requests and favourites from staff.

Caroline said:

“We wanted to open up the conversation about technology and help people understand how to get the best out of it and that they weren’t alone in trying to find their way.

“Using humour in content like memes for our Yammer channel and a guide to using Office 365 tools based on a town helped make the subject that bit more accessible and less daunting to people.”

The final week

– focused in on teams and how to retain that Welsh Water magic, within and between teams.

Another Welsh sporting great, Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas, gave another inspiring webinar, while teams were encouraged to interact with each other through a series of games and challenges, such as the Wheel of Fortune. There was also the welcome return of the Friday radio station, this time embracing the Christmas spirit with carols and festive tunes!

“It was a fantastic way to round off our campaign weeks and bring people together just before Christmas.  Our Chief Exec was able to broadcast a Christmas message to the whole organisation on the final day and thank everyone for their efforts in this strangest of years.” Caroline Rowlands

 

 

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“So glad that we chose Alive to create our new website. As well as taking the time to get the visual side of our requirement right, they worked with us to understand us, our business and our clients and reflect this across the site. We loved their flexible approach, which, coupled with the right level of challenge has replaced our old, clunky site with one we can be proud of. ”

Victoria Ford — Perago

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho, Clinical Psychologist — Critical Care, UCLH

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“This looks amazing - brought a smile to my face scrolling through it :-)”

Jack Ford, Head of Marketing — streamGO

“Love it. I will pass to the boss, but I think it's awesome.”

Matt Fletcher — Met Police

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“Boom!
Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

“Alive were professional, friendly and great to work with. Most importantly they were creative, helping us to bring an extremely important safety campaign to life.”

Jack Grasby — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“I have worked with Alive with Ideas for many years now and they are by far the best Ideas and design company I have ever worked with (I’d even go as far as to say the best company of any sort that I’ve ever worked with). They are an incredibly talented and creative team, who are normal human beings, completely grounded, totally down to earth, approachable, friendly and an overall joy to work with.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist — StephTranter.com

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist — StephTranter.com

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q