Annual reports play a vital role in informing an organisation’s
stakeholders about its financial performance and future direction.
However a document written primarily for external audiences can often
have little relevance for employees.
Following last year’s postal strike and uncertainties about
privatisation, the Post Office’s internal communications division
decided to commission an annual report designed and written specifically
To support the Post Office’s strategy of encouraging its businesses to
work together more closely. To improve understanding of the organisation
as a whole. To provide straight answers to straight questions.
Research conducted for a separate project had revealed employees’ desire
to be kept informed about the wider issues surrounding the Post Office
including investment and privatisation. It also showed that what staff
appreciate most about the Post Office are values such as accessibility
Creative agency Redhouse Lane was briefed to develop a questioning
approach which embraced these values, while promoting the idea of
business divisions working together more closely.
The agency’s strategy was simple - to ask questions employees would ask
in the way they would ask them, and to provide clear, direct
The result was a document featuring questions such as ’A thumping profit
again, why don’t we get to see a share in it?’ The report also included
an example of Royal Mail, Parcelforce and Post Office Counters working
together to deliver a sophisticated appointments management system to
Rotherham General Hospital.
The key challenges for the team were in managing the logistics of
production to tight deadlines. The staff annual report contained
excerpts and scans from the main report making it important for both to
be released in the same week.
Redhouse explains: ’The accounts and main report weren’t finalised until
the last minute which meant there was a big rush to get the employee
report finished on time.’
During the first week in July the staff annual report was sent to
210,000 employees. Nina Cooper, head of communications policy at the
Post Office, says that initial reactions suggest the new approach is
popular. According to Nick Hodges, divisional analyst for Royal Mail
International, the report was ’very easy to read - one of the best
things to have come out of internal communications.’
In terms of content the report gives feedback and recognition, which are
two key staff motivators. It also helps people understand the
organisation which they work for which builds loyalty and commitment.
But the true test of its success will be the results of Cooper’s
qualitative ’how was it for your? research.
Client: The Post Office
PR team: In-house and Redhouse Lane
Timescale: Mid-May - 1 July 1997
Budget: pounds 38,000 (excluding in-house costs)