His way leads him, as it does every day, past the administration building, which looks quite deserted. He is joined by his colleague Mila. “Oh Leon, they have it good, don’t they? The people in the office have home office on Friday and Monday, or should I say ‘long weekend’?”
What emerges here in our story is an often underestimated potential for conflict between white collar and blue collar employees. And consequently also a challenge for internal communication. The story at the beginning shows how even different working models can lead to interpersonal rifts and conflicts. Some such “feuds” develop from simple misunderstandings and misinterpretations, then grow into small trickles of disapproval and finally end in entrenched prejudices.
Internal communication is now well established in the development of digital communication channels. But what if the employees in production do not have constant access to the intranet or rarely use an app or tool because they are on the move between machines and plant all day? They are busy operating, adjusting and checking them, running through the hall with protective goggles and hearing protection, wearing overalls in the clean room or outdoors, and wearing hand and safety shoes in the heat and cold. In our numerous film projects for industrial companies, we have witnessed many of the above-mentioned work situations.
How and by what means does internal communication reach these employees? How do I resolve conflicts, initiate and accompany change? Because New Work is also taking hold at Blue Colors and IK is changing entire professional fields.
“Step into your customers’ shoes” is a well-known approach that takes the perspective of customers in order to tailor offers and services exactly to their needs.
Step into your employees’ shoes
What applies to external communication can also provide valuable insights in internal communication.
We show how to go on the “blue collar journey” in three steps:
- Make appointments: Make appointments with production staff and leave your chair, table and computer.
- Participate: Simply looking through the window into the factory hall is not enough. You have to participate in the everyday life of the employees for a longer period of time, because safety shoes, for example, only become a “heavy” challenge in the third hour.
- Reflect: Solutions for addressing, involving and motivating staff can be developed from the experiences and insights. How and where could the employees be reached by internal communication? Where are contact points and are they also suitable for communication? Communication at eye level and with appreciation usually move more than a poster with strategic core messages.
- Solution: As individual as every company is, so is the solution to strengthen the “we-feeling” of all employees. Sometimes existing communication channels can be sharpened or adapted, sometimes new concepts and strategies are needed.
The story at the beginning shows that the working models that are now well established in the White Collars are having an impact elsewhere. A concept is the best think tank for examining change from all sides and developing solutions. By the way, you don’t have to do this alone. We are always open to a discussion for advice – without you having to feel obliged to do anything.