Background:BNSF Logistics is a technology and people-driven third party logistics company that focuses on creating smart and creative supply chain solutions that meet their customer’s business needs that help efficiency, help them deliver things on time, and just help them reach their bottom line. They are a Berkshire Hathaway company with more than 25 offices across North America.
BNSF Logistics’ purpose is to “deliver what matters.” For their Director of Internal Communications, Sherrell Watson, this meant supporting employees internally and looking at the workplace as an experience. Even as a team of one, Sherrell was determined to create the best possible experience for their employees.
After joining the company and conducting an internal communications audit, which included focus groups and interviews with the leadership team, she quickly identified the gaps that existed with the internal communications function at BNSF Logistics.
“I wanted to listen to what people said. I wanted to have an understanding of what worked for them, what didn’t work,” Sherrell said. “Through that I was able to put together a real communication plan to move the company forward.”
Like many other companies, Sherrell found that their teams were very siloed. If an employee didn’t work in the corporate headquarters, they didn’t feel like their voice was being heard or connected to leadership. She also found that too much of their communication was shared under the assumption that employees worked at a desk. Their field-based staff often missed messages on the Intranet that lived behind the corporate firewall or in long-form emails that would pile up in user email accounts.
Based on these findings, Sherrell knew she needed to focus on three things: their purpose, their people, and their culture. And to do this, she would need to find a new channel that would reach their dispersed workforce, create a digital experience, and build their desired culture.
THE APP: BNSFL Connect
“Employees were really missing out on a bulk of the news that we wanted to share,” said Sherrell. “So we decided to partner with theEMPLOYEEapp. What I loved about theEMPLOYEEapp was that their team was made up of communication professionals. I wanted someone to understand the challenges that we were going through from an internal communications standpoint.”
Their employee communication app now allows their employees to get company news and tools right at their fingertips. It’s allowed them to increase the visibility of the leadership team and create more interaction and two-way communication from field-based employees.
Highlights of their app:
- Video: The ability for leaders to take cell phone video right on their phones and upload it to BNSFL Connect has been game changing. This has gotten important top-down messages to their employees in a timely manner.
- Learning: Learning and development material is housed on the app and broken into shorter, manageable chunks. Especially during COVID-19, where employees juggle their personal and professional lives, this made access to professional development possible.
- Employee Stories: App administrators can control the publishing permissions of other users. They decided to give posting permissions to all employees, but limited to one folder. This has enabled the team to share the employee voice, give them an outlet to share stories, and help connect employees that may never get the opportunity to meet.
- Crisis Resources: The app allowed the team to create COVID-19 specific content to continue to connect with their employees in the field and share the latest safety protocols.
A COMMS TEAM OF ONE:
Most internal communication teams are lean—lean on staff and lean on budget. At BNSF Logistics, they have just one internal communicator: Sherrell Watson. Sherrell not only manages their EMPLOYEEapp, she manages all their communications tools and works with other departments to create a best-in-class communication strategy. Learn more about this incredible communicator in our Communicator Spotlight series.
“It’s been a tool that has been praised throughout the organization,” says Sherrell. “And I think what people love about the app is it showcases our culture and who we are.”
BNSF Logistics has:
- Embedded theEMPLOYEEapp into their onboarding process to help new hires get up to speed and get to see special content targeted towards them.
- Utilized app-only content to drive employees to use BNSFL Connect.
- Launched a new video series from our Safety Team emphasizing safety best practices for all employees.
- Created a Learning and Development podcast giving a platform for department leaders to share stories behind our products and services.