Thermo Fisher Scientific and Dulye & Co. Team Up to Win IABC Gold Quill

Linda Dulye's picture
Late last month we received some exciting news and I’m proud to share it with you. 
Our client, Thermo Fisher Scientific, won the prestigious Gold Quill Award for a global Town Hall transformation program that Dulye & Co. supported. The Gold Quill is the annual, world-wide competition recognizing excellence in communication programs. Its sponsor, the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), is the industry leader in corporate communications. Our client, Ginger Kuenzel, Director of Global Employee Communications for Thermo Fisher Scientific, will join me in Toronto to receive the Gold Quill Award at IABC’s International Conference in June.
“Winning the Gold Quill means a lot,” Ginger said. “Not only is it the highest award IABC presents, but the judging is done by peers in the communications industry. These are people that know how to move the needle in improving communications within organizations.”
This is actually Dulye & Co.’s  third major award in as many years. Llast year we won the Silver Quill Award from the IABC Heritage Region -- which covers 17-states and Washington, D.C -- for our work with Thermo Fisher Scientific, and in 2008, our change management work with Rolls-Royce Engine Services earned an IABC Gold Quill. 
Engaged employees deliver measurable improvement 
So, what results came from our work with Thermo Fisher Scientific, a global company with approximately 35,000 employees at about 140 sites? The focus of our program was to achieve improvements in the quality and efficiency of a major leadership communications platform: town hall meetings.
Although quarterly town hall meetings were being held at virtually all locations of Thermo Fisher Scientific, the meetings often did not have the desired impact. Given the high cost of these meetings, Thermo Fisher wanted to improve their effectiveness by ensuring that employees leave meetings more well-informed and motivated, through a better understanding of how they and their site contribute to the company’s success and where they might need to improve. 
“Most sites had town hall meetings, but some weren’t as effective as they could be,” Ginger explained. “When you add up the cost of having every employee away from their work area for the time of a town hall meeting, it has a significant impact on the business. That’s one of the many reasons we wanted to make the meetings as organized and valuable as possible.”
Before the Gold Quill-winning transformation occurred, Thermo Fisher’s Corporate Communications staff developed slides of financial results and key company messages and sent these to division presidents, who were expected to distribute to site leaders. There were often delays in cascading those slides to site leaders, site leaders were too far removed from the company-wide messaging and many didn’t know how to localize the content. Also, many of the individual town hall meetings were mainly one-way communication solely from the site leader – with little or no dialogue – and lacked metrics to ensure continuous improvement. 
The new approach: Connect directly with site leaders to provide them with information, help them improve their communication skills and involve employees at sites in planning and managing the town hall meeting content and logistics through the establishment of employee action teams.. 
This collaborative approach was designed to yield more relevant, localized messaging – with more active employee involvement – and encourage dialogue at meetings. It’s been demonstrated that employees who better understand what is expected of them and how their work contributes to achieving the company’s goals are more satisfied, engaged and productive, and take more pride in their work, leading to increased customer satisfaction. The communications strategy, and the new town hall process, has demonstrably improved the effectiveness of the meetings at sites where it has been implemented, thereby helping the company achieve its performance and revenue growth goals. 
One unexpected benefit that Thermo Fisher has experienced from the new process is its contribution to the professional development of employees who are involved in the local action teams. These employees work closely with their colleagues to identify relevant content and plan the agenda, and have regular interaction with the site leadership. Membership on these volunteer teams has become extremely popular among employees.   
Real results worldwide
Among Thermo Fisher’s performance objectives for town hall meetings was to increase employees’ involvement and understanding of their role in the company’s success. Specifically, the goal was to increase employee engagement and two-way communications during Town Hall meetings by expanding Q&A sessions from the average of five minutes to at least 15 minutes. This involved not only building this time into the agenda but also ensuring that employees were actually asking direct, unfiltered questions. 
The goal was met and employee engagement has increased. On average, Q&A sessions now last 20 minutes, and 21 percent of site leaders who responded to a February 2009 survey indicated the biggest improvement is in Q&A and feedback. In one pilot site evaluation from 2009, employees rated the “opportunity to ask questions” as above average – an improvement of 15% since implementing the program.
The program, which was implemented globally, accommodates not only a wide range of languages, but also different cultural needs. In a targeted measurement in November 2009, German site leaders were asked to complete a feedback form regarding implementation of the town hall improvements. More than 80 percent of respondents rated the impact of the town hall process on improving employee business knowledge as good or excellent.
“This was a great partnership with Dulye & Co.,” Ginger said. “It took a lot of hard work and Bev Pierce from the Dulye & Co. team was terrific in helping us developing an award-winning program that has not only led to increased employee involvement and productivity, thereby delivering untold benefits to the business, but has also proved to be a great program for employee development.”
And it was a pleasure for us to work with Ginger and her team. Together, our teams created a program that injected an efficient and engaging process into the Thermo Fisher workplace.
Thanks, Ginger. Thanks, Bev. And thanks to Thermo Fisher leaders around the world for championing the new program.
To learn more about Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Town Hall program, read the case study on our Web site.


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