PRWEEK AWARDS 2003: Corporate & Public - The Harkness Kennett Award - Internal Communications


Anticipating an 'excellent' rating in the Comprehensive Performance Assessment (CPA), Westminster City Council sought to use this achievement to boost staff morale.

It set out to grab the attention of its staff in a fun way through two campaigns that also delivered key messages - all this without an internal communications team and on a public sector budget.

Achieving Excellence set out to let staff know about the CPA and help them prepare. Recognising Excellence was a rolling programme of new staff benefits.

Managers were sent rubber gloves, cough sweets, swabs and eye-test cards with the strapline, 'Are you ready for your inspection?'

An animated presentation was sent to the same managers to use when briefing staff, and through the intranet, staff were briefed on various issues so they could each talk authoritatively to the inspection team about their achievements.

The council came joint top in the CPA ratings. To celebrate, a massive poster congratulating all staff was placed in the foyer, and the chief executive and leader walked the floors to congratulate staff personally.

An extra day-off at Christmas was granted to all staff, and a mug was sent with the message, 'I'm no mug... I'm excellent'.

Westminster then launched the second campaign, which focused on keeping up the momentum.

The rolling benefit scheme for staff includes a refurbished canteen at City Hall, which staff were asked to name to win the prize of free lunches for a month. Other benefits included a childcare scheme, sabbatical and leave schemes, an employee of the year competition, worth £10,000, and an employee of the month prize of £1,000.

A survey showed 95 per cent of staff were aware of the 'excellent' rating, 90 per cent were pleased the chief executive/leader had personally congratulated them, 81 per cent felt their work was recognised and 75 per cent recommended the council as a workplace.

Senior managers appointed an internal communications team in January 2003.


Civil engineering consultancy Halcrow Group recently went through a restructuring, and needed to make staff feel a sense of belonging and pride through a combination of face-to-face, paper-based and electronic tools.

Its Connections newsletter was redesigned in mid-2002, focusing more on people than on business issues.

An annual desk-drop bulletin folder was launched to talk about strategic issues, and the Halnet intranet has used a microsite to run a Good News Bulletin, which showcases global projects. A monthly email from the chairman is also sent to all staff.

A hot vacancy email goes out monthly, and senior management now tour overseas offices and hold face-to-face team briefings.

The company is owned by a trust and staff shareholders. In mid-2002, 11 per cent of staff were shareholders. By mid-2003, this figure had risen to 16 per cent.


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