Sherrell Watson, BNSF Logistics
How Her Team of One Revolutionized Employee Experience
Director of Internal Communications
A major piece of internal communications is looking at the workplace as an experience. It’s really about creating the optimal experience for our employees.
Sherrell Watson has worked at BNSF Logistics for three years. Before joining the BNSF team, she worked for companies such as Bridgestone America and a ceiling fan manufacturer called Big Ass Fans.
Get to know Sherrell
What is your communications high and low?
My communication high always comes from listening and watching employees. I love hearing the conversation after extensive company communications are distributed to our employees, receiving candid feedback.
My communication low comes when I have to handle messages that have a great employee impact. We are living in unprecedented times, and I am very mindful when it comes to employees receiving information at the right time and using the right channel.
Comms teams typically are small. But you’re a team of one doing a ton of amazing things. Can you tell us how you manage creating so much engaging content?
What I really learned to do is open up to different teams to really be able to create content. So our L&d team, they are fully trained and they are able to understand what I’m looking for. And they have this section on our employee app where they’re able to post what they want as the L&d experts. And our marketing team is able to log into the app and post the content that a lot of our sales team needs, and what a lot of our employees need from a branding standpoint. So, I think the best practice on that is to enable local content creators. Even as a team of one, you don’t have to go it alone—and shouldn’t.
How did you earn your “seat at the table“?
So, I wear a lot of hats. I handle all of our internal communications, anything from change management to messages from our leadership team. But it comes down to measurement and sharing your results. Success for me is really about engagement. I gather the data on what content and strategies work, and I share those reports on that data with our leadership team. And it’s not only about sharing the work that I’m doing, but it’s sharing what’s engaging to the employees and what we need to do more of. And actually, theEMPLOYEEapp, have helped me create benchmarks for our mobile app as far as adoption and getting people on the platform. Those are kind of the KPIs that we set in place for channels like the app.
Gathering employee feedback to drive your internal comms strategy is something that’s really important to you. How do you enable that two-way communication and gather that input?
One of the things that I did beyond traveling to different offices, I would have focus groups. And I would ask them different questions around communications and around the company in general. I was also invited to a lot of different team meetings to kind of introduce who I was and to be a fly on the wall and listen to different things that they had going on in the team. And in the long run, that helped me build a lot of great relationships that I use to this day as a way to get content to share throughout the organization. So, I mean, beyond doing a communications audit, I think those in-person meetings and interviewing people in focus groups are great. But I even do one-on-one interviews of people to gather info and ask them a few questions. It’s just a great way to build relationships.
One of your communications goals is to begin pulling gamification into your content strategy. What are some of your ideas around gamification?
We want to make it simple. We don’t want to make it seem like it’s work for our employees. So, what we plan to do is put points on different pieces of content. So say it’s a state of the business video, that’s two points. Say it’s a learning and development video, that’s three points. And we would share these points with the HR team to communicate with leaders so they can show who on their team is active and engaged. And at the end of the year, the employees will be able to cash in their points for some prizes. We’re still trying to figure out the prize piece, but it’s really about keeping employees engaged and excited and being able, as a leader, to have those conversations with your team to say, “Hey, did you catch the story because I don’t think you paid attention to it.” And it’s just really about engagement and communications and make sure everyone’s still being collaborative.