Category: Storytelling

How storytelling will re-energise your EVP

The dimensions of work have changed rapidly in recent years, with many factors, including digital transformation, hybrid working and ‘The Great Resignation,’ leading to a renewed strategic focus on retention and recruitment within organisations worldwide. As a result, attention has turned towards the platform on which organisations can build their employer brand and experience – the Employee Value proposition (EVP).

93 per cent of the organisations we are currently engaging with are revisiting their EVP. What we’re seeing is an EVP evolution. To create a standout EVP, a comprehensive list of core components will no longer cut it. If you want to attract the best people, you must also emotionally connect them to your business. And even then, if this proposition doesn’t measure up to the reality of your employer brand, great people – those with the talent and skillsets you don’t want to lose – will quickly become disillusioned and their heads turned elsewhere.

With experience delivering change and transformation programmes for over 200 large and complex organisations, we believe storytelling can play a critical part in re-energising your EVP to elevate your employer brand and experience.

Featuring insights from members of The Storytellers team, this eBook explores how storytelling can be harnessed to re-energise your EVP and ensure that the promise you make to your people is grounded in reality.

Download the eBook to explore:

  • Why your leadership team should be focusing on the effectiveness of your organisation’s EVP
  • How narrative can be used to help align and elevate your proposition
  • How stories can be harnessed to build belief in your EVP

Tackling employee disengagement with a compelling narrative

Workplace satisfaction, or lack of it, has always been a common topic of conversation within organisations around the world – so how does the story you tell as an organisation impact this?

Last year, workforce wellbeing reached a tipping point, with countless studies dubbing an influx of unhappy employees as the perpetrator of what fast became known as ‘The Great Resignation‘ of 2021.

The reasons behind this growing wave of unhappiness cannot be attributed to one factor alone, as an international study by Firstup has shown. Drawing on the experiences of over 23,000 employees from a vast range of organisations globally, it revealed that just 16 per cent felt that their employer need make no changes to improve their employee experience, and a mere 12 per cent felt that their organisation had sufficient boundaries in place to safeguard their work-life balance.

Perhaps most striking of all, over half of employees admitted that they did not feel valued in their role or understood how their role contributes to their organisation’s objectives. This was a point I was keen to focus on when invited by Firstup to take part in a panel discussion held to explore the reasons behind this research in more depth. For me, the statistic highlights why it’s so vital that leadership teams look very carefully at the way they are engaging their people at this time – especially those exploring and implementing new ways of working in this period of pandemic recovery.

In our experience of supporting large and complex organisations through change, businesses struggle to evolve when their people are no longer aligned behind a common purpose, identity, goal and mission – yet this can be overcome with a strong, compelling narrative.  

The power of true alignment 

Leadership teams need to consider, both collectively and as individuals, how aligned they really are around every single element of the journey they are leading the business on.

As a business leader, ask yourself these two key questions:

  • Are you inspiring your people about the journey the organisation is on?
  • As a leadership team are you collectively and individually role-modelling critical behaviours within your organisation?

Compelling context

Having a sense of alignment allows leaders to be influential, visible and really bring their change journey to life in a compelling, human way for all employees. In times of uncertainty and change, humans crave compelling context, transparency and something we can tether ourselves to – all things an aligned narrative supports. 

True connection

Once the narrative is in place, it allows everyone within an organisation from boardroom to shop floor to begin to make both a rational and emotional connection to the change journey they are on. From purpose to strategy to behaviours (and everything in between), it enables individuals to ask themselves and understand ‘what’s my role?’ And, ‘why am I valued in moving this journey forward?’ 

It also allows leaders to build ownership of the strategy to unlock engagement. When everyone, not just the c-suite, understands their role within the bigger picture of their organisation, and feels they can influence what happens next, this enables pace, agility, performance, and opportunity – all the things executive teams crave. It takes bravery for the executive team to share responsibly in this way, but middle managers too can play a crucial role in keeping the momentum by ensuring individuals continue to feel empowered and receive individual recognition for their work.

Despite some stark headlines emerging from this research, there are grounds for optimism and opportunity. Although workplace dissatisfaction appears rife, what leaders should be focusing on is that so too are ideas about how to improve employee experience – if your organisation has a narrative to harness them.

Future-proofing your organisation in 2022

How leaders will grow resilience and relevancy through storytelling

Every day, we see firsthand the complex challenges that impact how people perform, and the opportunities leaders must seize to ensure their organisation remains relevant and resilient for years to come. 

In our experience, to ensure your business can adapt to any number of potential new scenarios, your people must be able to quickly make sense of the situation they face and feel empowered to take the right course of action to resolve it. 

In today’s non-linear world, rigid long-term plans can prove a burden or soon become irrelevant. Therefore, a strong compelling narrative will ensure everyone in your organisation understands their role and the purpose of what they do – even if the business goal or strategy has to quickly shift. This narrative can help you to establish the right culture to combat the aforementioned brittleness, as well as encouraging innovation and creativity so that your organisation can remain agile and maintain competitive advantage. It can also be used to help leaders build connection and belonging to help people to overcome their anxieties.

Featuring insights from members of The Storytellers team, our eBook on future-proofing your organisation considers how leaders can unleash the power of their organisation’s story to create belief and shift mindsets in the face of the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Explore how to:

  • Accelerate your ESG strategy
  • Embed hybrid working
  • Elevate your EVP
  • Sustain digital transformation
  • Lead with empathy

Complete the short form to immediately download your copy

How the stories of climate change can inspire business transformation

Climate change as a social movement has transformed in recent years, compelling increasing numbers of individuals, communities, nations and governments to take action. Key to this success has been the creation and communication of stories that have won hearts and minds to drive change.

Stories – used in the right way – have the power to transform cultures. Within large businesses, a clear, compelling narrative helps your people to become more understanding and responsive to even the most complex of challenges.

As the early stories of climate change have demonstrated, business leaders shouldn’t assume that by just focusing solely on the facts, it will be enough to bring people on your change journey. So what key lessons can we take away from the biggest stories at the heart of the climate crisis?

Evoking emotions has a long-lasting impact

If the story of your organisation connects people on an emotional level to your purpose, values and goals, it has the power to unite everyone behind your mission and motivate them to work in new ways.

In 2017, the second BBC ‘Blue Planet’ series continued to educate us on the wonders of the world’s oceans. However, it was the penultimate episode which focused on pollution that would go on to establish its legacy. In 50 minutes, narrator David Attenborough – a master professional when it comes to the art of storytelling – dramatically changed the mindset of the millions who tuned in, by showing in graphic detail the impact that microplastics are having on the lives of the marine life.

It led us to rethink our reliance on single-use plastic and compelled governments to take action by introducing a plastic bag tax in many countries. Even today, for those who watched that episode, the guilt wrought every time we pay for a new plastic bag demonstrates the long-lasting impact an emotive story can have on us.

Don’t dwell on the ‘doom and gloom.’ You need to complete the narrative

When there is too much focus on the challenge, people will remain reluctant to act without clarity on how it can be overcome. As we have previously experienced with climate change, when the narrative becomes too upsetting to follow, or the problem appears too great to solve, over time people will still disengage – regardless of its urgency or importance. 

The groundbreaking TV documentary series ‘Years of living dangerously,’ first aired in 2014, provided poignant first-hand reports on those affected by climate change – from the damage wrought by Hurricane Sandy to the upheaval caused by drought in the Middle East. Series One was emotive; it educated millions and even won an EMMY, but it didn’t open our eyes to the growing number of climate change solutions in development. The show’s Executive producers also realised this, and to keep people engaged throughout the second series, they shifted the narrative from ‘this is happening’ to focus on ‘this must happen next’. 

In his latest book ‘A Life on our Planet’, Attenborough also shows us the impact of a complete narrative. It begins with his amazing backstory as a pioneer in television and natural history film-making, while witnessing first-hand the destruction of the natural world. It then explores the hard reality of what is likely to happen if we don’t make radical changes. But crucially, in the final section, the narrative moves to a new ‘vision,’ as he outlines the journey we can all go on to save the planet and improve our lives. This rollercoaster structure of contrasting emotions not only makes the book a gripping read, but more importantly, it provides hope and invites people to play their part in collectively influencing the future.

Within a large organisation, establishing a complete narrative will motivate your people to pursue the best course of action to achieve your goals. In turn, sharing stories of successful outcomes then helps to build the belief that ‘change is happening’.

The powerful are not always in positions of power

Having influencers or change champions who are prepared to ‘spread the word’ is essential to any cause. Working not from traditional positions of leadership, they have the ability to unite people because as they have already gained the trust of their followers or peers.

Those campaigning for action against climate change are predominantly not those in traditional positions of power. Accessible across a variety of platforms, social media, blogs or podcasts, these individuals convey a notion of real possibility to their audience. For example, whether or not you agree with the tactics and actions of Extinction Rebellion, its proponents are such a broad cross-section of society, they’ve proved highly effective in passing on their message.

Leaders have to role model change

Unlike David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg doesn’t have decades of professional broadcasting experience, but what she does have is an instinctive understanding of how she and her actions can create a story that is arguably more impactful than any words. 

As Thunberg shifted from the role of influencer to a leader in the global fight against climate change, she’s been able to influence people – not through the stories she told, but the stories she has inspired others to create. From being the teenage influencer sitting outside the House of Parliament in Stockholm with her homemade banner to the trips she made back and forth across the Atlantic by sailing boat in order to speak to world leaders without having to leave a carbon footprint, her public life is a story. Yet her story has become a metaphor for how older generations are destroying the future for the young.

As a business leader, if you too are role modelling critical behaviours within your organisation, you will create stories that inspire others to follow your example. Storytelling will always be a fundamental trait of human behaviour. Use it to your advantage and it will help to navigate your organisation through even the greatest of change journeys.

Storytelling: how to reset an organisation’s narrative to inspire change

In today’s VUCA world, where change is constant and where inspirational leadership has become a critical requirement for high-performing businesses, storytelling has become a recognised skill for leaders in organisations all over the world and in every industry sector.

Gone are the days of command-control leadership style. To attract and retain talent – and indeed customers – leaders need to be authentic, empowering, collaborative, involving, open to ideas and encouraging dialogue within their teams to solve complex problems and share best practice – be willing to change and go the extra mile to achieve key business objectives. 

In short, a business’s differentiator comes down to people: how they personify the brand through their actions and behaviours, how this builds corporate trust, customer acquisition and loyalty. 

And for leaders to win over their people – to bring them with them on a journey of uncertainty and change – they need to win hearts and minds; create meaning and purpose in the workplace. It’s not enough to connect people rationally to change. Leaders need to create an emotional connection in order to stimulate the energy and collective spirit needed to power their teams through challenging times, where change is embraced rather than seen as a threat. And yet winning hearts and minds is without doubt one of the hardest parts of change to achieve.

The Storytellers have worked with over 180 major organisations in a quest to find the most effective way of creating this emotional connection. Without doubt, storytelling has a major role to play here. But what exactly is it that makes storytelling so effective in persuading and energising individuals? What draws us to a story, and how exactly does it influence how we think, feel and act?

There are five key traits of a memorable and inspiring story, each of which can be applied to the world of business. Explore them in full by completing the form on this page.

How leaders can build momentum to accelerate digital transformation

Any digital transformation programme requires organisational change. The global pandemic has brought forward digital transformation by seven years*, and today more customer interactions, products or services are fully digitised than ever before.

Digital transformation remains a crucial enabler – a means to achieve wider organisational, customer service, growth and retention goals more quickly.

At the height of the COVID-19 response, the world of work embraced everything at our digital disposal to get through the crisis together and respond to rapidly changing business and customer needs.

It’s easy to assume that everyone is comfortable with these changes – after all, we have seen how well they can function, and embedded new ways of working in our lives. However, digital transformation also brings change that runs deep within organisations – impacting everything from operating models and structures to company culture and recruitment. In turn, this can also leave people feeling like they have lost autonomy or that their skills and expertise are no longer valued. 

When people fail to connect the reasons for your digital journey with the ‘bigger picture’ of your organisational goals – or struggle to understand their role within the future organisation – this heightens the risk of resistance and disengagement with the process.

With the right approach, the story you tell as an organisation – driven by a shared vision of a digitally empowered future – can galvanise your people and their talents, turning uncertainty into an opportunity to ensure your digital journey is sustainable for the long term.

Enter your details to read our ebook on how leaders can harness the power of storytelling to overcome the key challenges of digital transformation to drive change and new opportunities.

*McKinsey & Company 2020

Webinar: ‘Empowering the future generation’ with Abigail Melville – CEO of We Rise

Today, ’Gen Z’ can easily get the wrong idea about big organisations – and vice versa. In an increasingly complicated system of post-16 education, young people in the UK are all too often left to navigate their own path, relying on personal and social networks to make the difficult transition from school to work. This disadvantages those from less affluent backgrounds.

We Rise is an award-winning community business challenging stereotypes and tackling social disadvantage. Its mission is to empower young people to create successful futures by enabling them to explore and experience the real world of work, try new things and be challenged to deliver.

Passionate about tackling inequality, after 25 years working in public, commercial and non-profit organisations – including spells as a Councillor in South London, public affairs consultant and secondary school teacher – Abigail Melville founded We Rise to make an impact in her community.

In our ‘Stories from the C-Suite’ series, we talk to C-suite leaders who we believe are expert storytellers about the challenges of leading organisations through change and find out what lies ahead in the next stages of their journey.

In this latest episode, Abigail joined us to explore:

  • How the global pandemic has impacted opportunities for young people
  • How organisations can benefit by empowering a more diverse future workforce
  • How We Rise uses storytelling and narrative to shift mindsets and drive change.

Enter your details to watch a recording of the webinar in full.

Overcoming key leadership challenges in 2021

The number of new opportunities and challenges created by the pandemic shows no sign of dwindling. Businesses that can respond to new demands on their markets will always be best equipped to navigate risks and remain sustainable in the long term. 

The COVID crisis has fundamentally changed many aspects of our lives, not at least how we work, and successful business leaders will adjust to these seismic societal shifts by staying nimble, flexible and creatively future-proofing their organisations.

In our ‘Stories from the C-suite’ series, we talk to leaders, who we believe are expert storytellers, about the challenges of leading through change and how they will approach the next stages in their journey.

Each webinar provided valuable takeaways on how leaders can overcome both the common and more unique challenges large organisations face at this time. 

As the series takes a break during August and September, I invite you to catch up or watch back and reflect on the conversations we’ve had since the beginning of the year.

Stories from the c-suite Rabobank

WATCH: ’Future of Food’ with Will Jennings – CEO, UK at Rabobank 

Will shared how the global food crisis has come to drive Rabobank’s mission and purpose. And why storytelling and narrative are important to leaders looking to drive long-lasting change.

Stories from the Csuite CFA Institute

READ: Transformation in Asia’ with Nick Pollard – MD APAC, CFA Institute

Accompanying this webinar is a free guide outlining the skill set needed for leaders to unlock business transformation in Asia.

Stories from the C-suite AXA Health

WATCH: ’The Future of Health’ with Tracy Garrad – CEO, AXA Health

We explored how Tracy dealt with the challenges of the pandemic in an industry at the forefront of the crisis. We also discussed how the business has adapted and what healthcare will look like in the future.

Stories from the C-suite: Noble Foods

WATCH: ’Food for thought’ with Duncan Everett – CEO, Noble Foods

From a unique position of having experienced and led two different food companies during the pandemic, we were keen to hear what Duncan had learned and what he will focus on moving forward.

Stories From the Csuite - Hostelworld

WATCH: Navigating Crisis’ with Gary Morrison – CEO, Hostelworld

Arguably one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, the travel industry has been dealt consistent blows with no respite. We discussed with Gary, a veteran of digital travel companies, what Hostelworld did to ensure that it had a roadmap to recovery, and how it plans to thrive when normal travel patterns resume.

Stories from the C-suite Hays

WATCH: ’Talking Talent’ with Alistair Cox – CEO, Hays plc

Forces of change are sweeping across the recruitment industry, and we wanted to know how Alistair is navigating this tumultuous but exciting landscape. He also shared plenty of insights on what the future of recruitment might look like.

Stories from the C-suite: Pheonix Group

WATCH: ’Facing The Crisis’ with Andy Briggs – CEO, Phoenix Group

He was a new CEO, taking up the role during the early stages of the pandemic – we wanted to know how Andy was able to navigate Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business, through the toughest of times.

Follow our LinkedIn page or sign-up to our newsletter for notifications about future ‘Stories from the C-Suite’ webinars. If you have any suggestions of leaders you would like to hear from or ideas on topics you would like us to cover – we would also love to hear from you. Please email us: connect@thestorytellers.com

Making the next big difference: considering customer needs

As any company tries to reinvent itself in a competitive market, it is often necessary to offer large-scale strategic changes. However, in such moments, there is the chance that change fatigue arises. This was the challenge facing one international courier, who were struggling to engage employees. 

By using the inspirational power of storytelling, however, they were able to stress the relationship between strategy and shopfloor, briefing and behaviour: between process and people. 

Creating Christmas cheer

As the festive season nears, millions of people will look forward to connecting with their loved ones.

For one recently divorced father, however, his Christmas promised no such pleasure. His new life had taken him far from his old Suffolk home, and his festive period would be spent in Glasgow, alone.

Yet he wanted his to children know that his thoughts were with them at this family time. He carefully selected a series of books, wrote heartfelt notes to accompany them, and sent them.

Soon, however, he realised that they had not been delivered, with Christmas approaching fast.

Concerned, the father called the carrier, worried that this children would feel forgotten on Christmas Day. His calls revealed that the books had disappeared, and nobody could locate them. 

After a final attempt to find the parcels proved fruitless, one of the carrier’s employees spoke up. They’d heard the father’s story, and wanted his family to receive the tokens of his love. 

With time running out, however, it was not possible for the father to rebuy and resend the presents. So one last call was made: to ask him exactly what he wanted to send them, and what he’d written in his notes. 

The carrier’s team sprang into action: a swift city centre visit to ensure that exactly the same gifts were bought, and that the parcels were sent to Suffolk – just in time for Santa’s visit. It was a unique example of the carrier’s employees going above and beyond – making a difference – and saving Christmas for one affectionate father.

A company transformed

Shortly after placing narrative – storytelling – at the heart of their organizational revamp, the carrier realised that employees were feeling more engaged, and that the role of their day-to-day work in achieving better things was clear. The changes were as measurable as they were impressive: reduced absenteeism (6.7 per cent to 4.7 per cent), an 11 per cent reduction in staff turnover, skyrocketing Employee Survey scores, and, two years after a loss of £190 million, a healthy return to profit: all acting as a testament to the power of storytelling to transform an organisation. 

To discover how storytelling can transform your business, download our e-book, Storytelling: how to reset an organisation’s narrative to inspire change