MetLife is one of the largest life insurance companies in the world and its Europe, Middle East and Africa operations are spread across 26 countries. But MetLife in EMEA faced a challenge familiar to many large corporations as it looked to create understanding and support for its corporate strategy. This requires communicating with thousands of employees spread across a diverse region with many languages and cultures.
Fortunately, employees came up with a solution themselves. At a January 2014 MetLife Innovation Summit in Warsaw, Poland, they decided to create a social video platform.
Jonathan Bunn, Head of Communications, EMEA, explains:
“We set a group of employees the specific challenge of finding a way to keep colleagues engaged with our strategy and they used the MetLife Innovation Program to develop the idea. The idea received pilot funding as part of the Innovation Program process and once the concept was proved in two markets we were able to roll it out further.”
The idea led to MetLife deploying the Kaltura MediaSpace social video platform to build a product it named OneVoice.
“The Kaltura platform was a good fit for our Vision and could be swiftly bespoked and implemented.” explains Jonathan.
OneVoice is an internal YouTube-style platform which employees use to showcase how they are delivering the strategy. Every time an employee uploads a video they tag it to an element of the strategy, dubbed a strategy corner. Other employees can then like, share and comment on each piece of content.
“We wanted to use social media so it would be familiar to our employees. With video we can capture genuine employee voice and enable collaboration on a level never conceivable previously. OneVoice is a true employee-generated innovation and is proving a fun and engaging way for employees to collaborate and share best practices.
“Video has the power to capture and communicate good ideas that might otherwise be locked in employees’ heads forever. OneVoice complements the usual corporate top-down communications with genuine bottom-up communications.”
At the gestation stage all levels of employee were involved in the Innovation Summit as this helped provide a diverse mix of talents, view, skills and capabilities. “The aim is to build employee engagement because when employees are engaged, they are more productive, stay with us longer, and are greater advocates for the business.”
The look and feel of OneVoice was important. The communications team at MetLife worked with Kaltura to give the platform MetLife branding. The first page is designed so a user sees three sections highlighting which videos have been recently uploaded, the leaderboard of the most popular videos and an introduction to OneVoice. Making search easy, every piece of content is tagged by market and aligned to the various corners of the strategy. One of the key functionalities of OneVoice is the ability to post comments, which has been essential in generating a very social experience.
Just five months after its inception, in June 2014, a pilot was rolled out in the UK and Romania.
To launch OneVoice, the communications team ran with the movie theme and created MetLife branded popcorn holders as well as print posters and a viral campaign. They also made it easy to create content by setting up booths in offices where employees could make a video and upload their footage very quickly. The communications team retained the high interest level with regular emails about new and popular videos and awarded cinema ticket prizes for the best videos.
But how do they handle the language issue?
“We encourage colleagues to post in the language that they feel most comfortable. Many of our international colleagues do use English, but we have also started to use sub-titling into several languages to help drive sharing and collaboration.”
MetLife was pleased with the impact. During the six-month limited pilot, OneVoice had 320 unique viewers, which is a high proportion of its audience in those two markets. Employees uploaded 120 videos focusing on how they are delivering on strategic commitments. These videos were played over 3,000 times with an average engagement of 52 seconds.
Raluca Marcu, who drove OneVoice implementation in Romania commented:
“One Voice is like a stage with a big microphone where everybody can be heard and seen and share what they did with a unique voice. It’s our internal YouTube, created by MetLife for our employees – and clearly with Kaltura’s support as well.”
Tom Gaynor, who leads MetLife’s employee benefits business in the UK reckons:
“It has captured the imagination of colleagues and encouraged us all to be creators and consumers of short, fact-filled, relevant communication. I’ve been impressed by the range of people contributing and the quality of the output. It’s also been a lot of fun.”
After a successful pilot, OneVoice was rolled out to a further seven countries starting in June 2014. Now, videos on the site have been viewed more than 8,000 times. And, recognising OneVoice’s impact, MetLife EMEA won an award for the Innovation in Employee Engagement category and the Financial Services category at the Peer Awards for Excellence in London at the end of September 2015. Plans are in place to roll OneVoice out to a further 10 markets early in 2016 making it a truly pan-regional collaboration and engagement tool.
“We have learned a lot along the way. For example, we now encourage friendly competition between markets as this results in more content and viewings,” added Bunn. “Employees have found OneVoice very liberating and we have been blown away by the creativity. Some videos resemble mini movies even though they were made on smartphones and tablets with no budget.”
He concluded, “We have been asked whether this works so well because we are a young average age employer, but actually that has hit a nerve with not just our younger employees, but all our audiences.”