Here are some brief details of teams we have worked with in the past in this way:

For this project, we were asked to develop a program that could address sexual harassment and other employment ethics, within a high profile high street retail brand.

When we were brought in there were 34 live cases relating to some form of grievance raised against an employee. 9 of these concerned some allegation of sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour occurring in the work place.

A vital part of the HR team’s role in this context was to help employees take ownership of problems and help find new ways of facing them with the support of others. That takes more than a collaborative approach. It takes genuine openness, creativity and a strong commitment to active learning and collective problem-solving.

So with this background in mind, let us share with you just one of the creative communication strategies we used to achieve employee relations objectives: The use of professional actors to raise awareness and support members of the company when it comes to managing employee relations in the workplace and demonstrate what it takes to identify issues, resolve and prevent them.

We designed a three-stage program that started with the writing, filming and production of a broadcast standard episodic TV drama. The storyline and characters were all located in the business and this was delivered via the internal (international) intranet. So as each episode was aired the corporate audience tuned in on a weekly basis to find out what happened next.

As a consequence of airing this, viewership on the internal intranet service quadrupled. Over 1500 attended the live event. A portion of this audience went on to attend the Live Tribunal but a staggering 20 times that audience tuned in to watch it afterwards on TV.

Too many employee relations initiatives focus on strategy and formulation, with insufficient emphasis on communication and delivery. This project not only allowed us to avoid this limitation; it provided a dramatic opportunity to articulate and demonstrate our commitment to creating and maintaining a positive supportive working environment making it clear that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated at any level. It also equipped our people with the practical knowledge to be able to recognise this sort of behaviour and put a stop to it.

How did we measure our success of the project? By the extent to which our managers spot problems early, become more aware of employee relations issues and the fact we completely changed the culture to one of early resolution and prevention. This ultimately saved relationships, time and money, and - perhaps most importantly of all reduced the number of complaints.

And that’s something worth applauding.

Catherine TurnerEmployee Relations Manager HR UK Training