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What they said

We have a company culture worth shouting about. We champion free thinking and we believe great ideas can come from anywhere. We give our people freedom and the opportunity to make their mark. While this sounds great, it can result in differing interpretations of strategy and direction, making clear communications essential in every role.

In recent times we’ve lost some of the power of this approach. Our culture has become an obstacle to progress. Help us get beyond this by crafting regular communications which reconnect our people to our purpose.

Refresco is a global drinks manufacturer with over 5,500 employees. It regards itself as being at the cutting edge of modern employee relations, promoting an entrepreneurial mindset to everyone whether they inhabit the boardroom or the factory floor. Culturally this can be difficult to manage because employees are often unsure of the boundaries of free expression.

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What we did together

We went to work on the factory floor so we could get to know our target audience. We discovered valuable insights about how people view the Refresco culture and why they are proud to work ‘on the lines’, as the company refers to its manufacturing operations.

These insights helped us develop a new internal organ which we called ‘Between the Lines’ and which goes out in printed and electronic form on a monthly basis to everyone at Refresco. Between the Lines is laser-focused on helping employees understand what makes Refresco different and what ‘empowerment’ and ‘entrepreneurialism’ mean in real everyday language.

We developed Between the Lines steadily into a down-to-earth celebration of positive examples of entrepreneurial behaviour, and empowerment in practice. But we walk a fine line between ‘bigging up’ those featured, and trying always to remove the stigma of noncontribution. Refresco – and Between the Lines – is a safe space for everyone whether they have ideas or not. Largely through our ability to achieve this balance, Refresco’s purpose – to have drinks on every table – has become a unifying force for good across the company.

What we learned

Not everyone craves the opportunity to put forward ideas about their workplace, and in a culture like Refresco’s, they need to know that’s okay. There mustn’t be an obligation to share.

Secondly, spending time explaining and reinforcing the company purpose and cultural difference is time well spent. More companies should invest more in doing this kind of work because the benefits in terms of engagement generate a strong return.

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