Keeping Communication at the Core of Our Strategy
Blommer Chocolate Company of Canada, Inc.
Chocolate is serious business at Blommer. When you bite into a chocolate coated granola bar, or a cinnamon chip muffin, you are experiencing the taste of Blommer. As the largest supplier of specialty confectioner coatings, this Campbellford, Ontario-based manufacturer has 140 employees in a 24/7 plant.
A Culture of High Performance
Blommer is committed to building a high-performance culture and continually looking for ways to improve. For years they have used the Denison Culture Survey tool to benchmark their performance against other successful companies. As a result of the survey, they decided to ramp up their employee communication by introducing digital signage. Blommer needed a way to communicate to all shift workers 24/7, especially outside of office hours. They went to a local computer retailer for a solution.
“At the time, we thought it was about choosing the right technology display system,” said Doug Harper, General Manager. “But it was a classic case of ‘we didn’t know what we didn’t know.’ We quickly learned that what really matters is the software and the content. The system we purchased was cumbersome to use and could only accommodate static content playing in a single frame. We needed something better.”
Choosing the Right Partner
Blommer turned to Marlin for a better solution. This time they knew what they really needed, which was a way to make all of their communication visual. The system had to be easy to use, cloud-based and able to accommodate multiple users. And they needed content.
“The Marlin system met all of these requirements,” said Doug. “The software is really easy to use. We can post content in minutes. The Marlin content is just what we needed to make our communication more dynamic. The health and safety content really grabs peoples’ attention with video and great visuals. And the content library helps us communicate a wide range of messages.”
“We have a diverse workforce with employees of all ages,” said Doug. “What would catch the eye of a 20-year old is different from that of a 50 year old. Because the Marlin screens have multiple frames for messages, we can deliver our messages in multiple ways.”
“It has Become Part of our Strategy”
“I’ve never worked for a company where communication wasn’t the #1 problem,” said Doug. “As a leadership team, we keep communication at the core of our strategy. The Marlin system is our preferred method of communicating because it’s visual and everybody can see it ̶ regardless of what shift they are on. We always have shift meetings, but the screens are in everybody’s face all the time, so it’s a great way to reinforce messages. We all like the outlet so much and are very conscious of how we use it.”
Health & Safety and Human Resources staff are the primary content providers. Doug also contributes to content as do other executives. They are producing a wide range of content including:
- Performance metrics
- Customer service measurements
- Employee benefit information
- On-time delivery stats
- Financial updates
- CEO messages
- Welcome messages for visitors
Blommer is proud of its high-performance culture, which encourages team problem-solving. They use the Marlin screens to kick off their Team Challenge. There are four teams, each of which identify a problem and create a solution. They appoint a leader and work with a coach. Each team gives a formal presentation and prizes are awarded. Last year the company saved $1 MM in savings from team challenge ideas. Using their digital signage to communicate the challenge helps everyone share in the excitement.
When we asked Doug about how the employees have reacted to the Marlin screens, he said, “You can see people looking at it. They like it. They are paying attention and they are getting the information.”
Making Communication Personal
What do office buildings, sports stadiums and parking structures have in common? They are constructed from precast concrete products produced by Coreslab Structures of Los Angeles. When you are in the business of making 100-140-ft. concrete slabs for use in constructing bridges, buildings and stadiums, it’s all about safety. The challenge is to find an effective way to communicate to the shift workers in the plant to reinforce safety.
Coreslab chose workplace digital signage as a solution for making safety visual and reaching workers on all shifts. They knew they needed to go beyond verbal communication and stand-up meetings to keep safety front and center in their workers minds.
Tony Catona, PHR, Human Resources/Safety Manager said, “The Marlin Electronic Communication Station helps us meet our main objectives. Our themes are safety and teamwork. The industry-specific content that Marlin supplies makes it easy for us to deliver these messages in an engaging way. And the content management software allows us to create our own content on current projects, company news, birthdays and anniversaries.”
Keeping it Personal to Drive Engagement
When Tony joined Coreslab a year ago, he took over the management of the Marlin screens. One of the screens was right outside his office at the timeclock. Although employees were looking at the screens, he felt that they could do a lot more to grab workers’ attention by personalizing the content. He began using Marlin’s built in templates to post birthdays and anniversaries. Using the automated counter feature, he posted lost days stats. Tony shot photos of past and current projects and took random photos of people doing their jobs. He immediately saw the difference as employees took a few more minutes each day to notice and comment on the pictures and personal milestones.
Projecting a Professional Image
When visitors or new applicants walk into Coreslab they immediately see the screen. “It really makes a statement,” said Tony. “It’s a great way to show them what Coreslab is all about and it projects a professional image.” It is also used for orientation when new hires tour the plant. Tony uses the screen in the cafeteria to showcase it as a training tool. It helps to reinforce safety messages and show off recent projects. “Seeing pictures of our projects really helps prospective and current employees get the big picture of what we do,” said Tony.
Content They Can Relate to
“We have a very diverse workforce,” said Tony. “They range in age from 18-65. The variety of content that Marlin supplies, with its high-end graphics and videos, offers something of interest for everyone. We have many Spanish-speaking employees. The Marlin Spanish content helps us keep our safety messages bilingual.”
Helping us Communicate More Efficiently
“The Marlin system helps us communicate more information in a short amount of time, without additional resources,” said Tony. “The screen layout offers multiple frames for messages. We are able to repurpose content from other sources such as our company newsletter and post it on the Marlin screens. This improves our chances of getting the message out.”
Software that’s Easy to Use
“We really like the new content management software,” said Tony. “It’s intuitive, so I really didn’t need training, though it’s helpful to have the online tutorials. I can upload files in a few clicks and there are a lot of pre-designed templates that work great for birthdays, anniversaries and important announcements. An added bonus is when I do need help; our local Regional Manager is there, as is the Customer Care team.”
Coreslab is committed to making safety communication visual. Their unique approach of keeping their message personal has created a winning combination for engaging their employees.
Engaging and Informing Employees with Visual Communication
Power Secure, Inc.
PowerSecure, Inc., a subsidiary of Southern Company, is a leading provider of utility and energy technologies. They are the “single-stop-shop for solutions across the electric grid,” providing design and engineering, manufacturing, installation and service. Their footprint extends across North America.
To keep up with the high demand for energy solutions, PowerSecure has grown its workforce 20% in the last year. Less than a third of its employees are at fixed locations. Others are around the country at worksites. Communication is critical to keeping employees safe and maintaining quality.
A Proven Formula
Barry Sechrist, VP of Safety, had used a very early version of digital signage for workplace communication in a prior job. He saw how effective it could be to use visual communication to engage employees. By combining interesting information such as news, weather or sports with company messages, employees were drawn to the screens. While they were checking the news, they’d also see an important safety message.
Barry’s goal was to find a tool that would help PowerSecure promote health and safety and keep workers informed on human resource updates and other business information. The first wave was to focus on reaching employees at fixed locations. Searching the internet, he quickly saw that most digital signage providers were in the business of selling display technology. He was looking for something more. He knew he needed help with content and he was looking for support that would extend beyond the initial installation.
Finding the right partner
“We chose Marlin for three reasons,” said Barry. “They offered industry-specific content, I liked the way the content displayed on the screen, and they called me back. That was important to me.”
For the first wave, PowerSecure installed 26 screens in a dozen locations over three months. The screens were located throughout their plants. In four locations they also installed screens in welcome areas. Since then, they have moved to a new facility, adding screens and locations for improved coverage. They have plans for continued expansion.
Though Barry is currently the primary content provider for all screens, Marlin’s technology makes it easy for him to add unlimited administrators which will become more important as they expand screen coverage to additional locations.
Getting the Message Right
Digital signage works best when the right content is delivered to the right target audience. For the employee-facing screens, Barry posts general health & safety messages to all locations. He includes information on injuries with pictures of what happened. He uses the Marlin screens to direct employees to their intranet where they’ll find important safety information such as safety data sheets and procedures. HR adds content that keeps employees informed about benefits. As PowerSecure settles into their new, larger facility, Barry expects local administrators will be posting additional site-specific content. They also plan to use the screens to reinforce safety training.
“The animated Marlin content acts as a hook to get employees to look at the screens,” said Barry. While there, they also see our in-house messages. At some of our locations, we use the Spanish content from Marlin which helps engagement with our diverse employee base.”
In the lobby areas, the Marlin screens are used to welcome visitors and educate them on PowerSecure’s products and services. These screens also display Marlin content that covers universal topics such as health and wellness and motivational content.
What is the Impact?
“The Marlin system has given us a different avenue to reinforce thoughts and ideas,” said Barry. “It provides a better way to push out content to our employees and it helps us make our messages visual.”
It Takes a Team to get it Right
Central Iowa Power Cooperative
At Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO), the goal is to provide safe, reliable and affordable electric service to its members. That cannot happen without a workforce that is safe, engaged and committed to delivering on that promise. CIPCO’s members serve a population of nearly 300,000 rural and urban residents and more than 12,000 commercial and industrial accounts. Their employees are spread out in 5 locations and 4 different cities. With workers located in power plants, transmission facilities and offices, communication can be a challenge.
Making Safety Visual
CIPCO was looking for a way to provide employees with a simple scoreboard or snapshot on safety performance. They wanted to it to be visual and visible to all workers. Digital signage seemed like the right solution. They were somewhat familiar with digital signage because there was a screen in the lobby of their Des Moines facility, though it was dedicated to welcoming visitors. What they wanted was a true “employee information center” where they could deliver a consistent message to all 5 of their locations. While safety was the primary driver, they needed a way to keep everyone informed on other company updates from HR and Corporate Communications.
They chose the Marlin Electronic Communication Station because it was designed specifically for employee communication. The software enabled them to manage content and users across all locations and the industry-specific content that Marlin supplies helped reinforce safety. At first Rex Butler, the Manager of EH&S, was the sole administrator, posting in-house safety content that would run with the Marlin-provided animated content. He quickly realized that the program could be a lot more dynamic if he involved other departments.
Creating a Content Team
He enlisted a team of 7 people from HR, Communications, and Safety. It made a big difference because it became a shared commitment and they were able to offer a wider variety of messages, written with different tones & styles. “Our VPs sometimes have special requests,” said Rex. “For example, we’re remodeling our facility right now and we’re using the screens to provide updates on our progress.” With multiple content contributors, they needed to establish a few ground rules. The team developed general guidelines for posting and agreed on a review process when needed.
Variety Drives Engagement
“There is no limit to how we can use the system, “said Rex. “The software is easy to use and we can post videos, automated counters, charts, pictures, etc. The built-in templates are great for work anniversaries, birthdays, births and holidays.” The team uses the screens to post KPIs of leading indicators and other safety accomplishments. They keep everyone informed on employee benefits, survey reminders, charitable projects, and personal achievements like RAGBRAI, the famous bicycle ride across Iowa.
Posting profiles of new employees and what they do helps everyone feel more connected. “Recently we changed CEOs and featured bios of Directors on our Board,” said Rex. “The Marlin system was a great channel for communicating that.”
“The original content that Marlin supplies is dynamic,” said Rex. “It keeps our messages visual with eye-catching graphics and video. We need to continually reinforce the same issues in different ways. Marlin helps with that by keeping the message interesting.”
“We have a good safety record,” said Rex. “Compliance is one of our top priorities. The challenge is to keep people engaged, energized, motivated, encouraged and supported. This is one way that the Marlin system helps us.”
Other ways include:
- Improved communication, which contributes to a feeling of “one company” vs. fragmented locations
- Getting people engaged and talking about what they see on the screens
- Hearing employees’ reactions and feedback, which helps to generate more ideas for new content
- Projecting a professional image, which is something that visitors often comment on
“We’re all information-driven,” said Rex. “Email alone isn’t effective in letting everyone know what’s going on, and not all our workers have access to company email. But when they visualize the information on a regular basis, it does a lot to foster comradery and make everyone feel a part of the group.”
Employee survey reveals winning formula for effective digital signage content
Herr Foods, Inc.
When Herr Foods implemented a company-wide digital signage system, they were confident they had the right technology to reach employees without email. But it was a change in content strategy that really made their workplace digital signage truly engaging. See how they utilized easy digital signage powered by Marlin to enhance their engagement results.
The HR staff at Herr Foods headquarters in Nottingham, Pennsylvania, knows a thing or two about how to engage workers using digital signage.
Their journey to success started with a need to find a better way to communicate with over 500 Herr Foods production workers across three shifts and two departments. After partnering with Marlin and installing three digital signage screens in their breakrooms, they got to work uploading, scheduling and displaying all kinds of workplace messaging.
But something was missing. They weren’t yet realizing the level of engagement they had hoped for. It took an employee survey and some conversations with staff in the breakroom to find out what needed to change.
The overwhelming conclusion? Their digital signage content needed to be more personal, more varied, and more fun! The HR team responded with a mix of material to complement their work-specific messaging. Sports RSS feeds were added to the display rotation, as well as more employee recognition pieces, from birthdays and anniversaries to welcome messages for new employees. And to really keep it even more fun and engaging, a regular piece known as ‘Throwback Thursday’ was also included. It challenges everyone to identify today’s Herr Foods employees based on some older photos—big hair and all.
Technology Crucial to New Content Strategy
Marlin’s digital signage SaaS-based technology makes it easy to post, enhance, and schedule all of this varied content with ease. But the software’s ability to display content in multiple frames is crucial to the HR team’s new content strategy. It enables work-specific messaging, such as a benefits memo, to be displayed at the same time on a different part of the screen as an employee recognition piece. The evidence of success can be seen right in their breakroom. Workers are now drawn to the more personal and fun content. From there, they also absorb any number of workspecific messaging in adjacent segments or frames.
For Herr, it’s a win-win. Their ‘lighter side’ content helped increase their active digital signage audience, a part of engagement necessary for delivery of work messaging. But the new strategy also delivers an uptick in morale. Workers see more images of their peers on the screens, and more examples of teamwork and Herr culture in action. The results are very positive.
Herr Foods Inc., Corporate Office, Nottingham, PA
- Started by Herr family in 1946
- Manufactures over 340 snack food items
- Employs shift workers & route sales people
Utilizes Marlin digital signage to:
- Reach workers without email access
- Provide a consistent message across locations
- Engage workers with visual communication
- Deliver corporate and local site messaging
“This is great!” exclaims Jose’, a Herr Foods employee who commented on the screen. “I like seeing the employee welcome messages, the updates. Oh, and the news and sports!” The breakrooms at Herr Foods are a perfect proving ground for visual communication. Employees have 15 minute breaks, so content has to be managed accordingly, utilizing best practices for readability and timing. Once again, their segmented screens come in handy, ensuring all messages see a place in rotation during those brief breaks.
Keeping the Momentum
Tori Roth, HR Generalist at the Nottingham location, notes how employees now accept their ‘Communication Center’ as their main source of company information. And it’s an important part of the onboarding process as well. Tori will upload and schedule a welcome message to coincide with the employee’s first day on the job. “We take them to the screens and explain that this is our primary company communication system, and they should check it out at least once a day,” Tori explains. When they see their own photo on the screens, they realize right away how powerful a tool this is and embrace the concept.
Having established its vision of workplace digital signage at its headquarters, Herr Foods has since initiated a company-wide installation. Each branch will be able to contribute local content, but can also benefit from corporate news and updates. Together, this varied content achieves a perfect mix of messaging that includes everything from CEO videos to pictures of local shifts dressed up to celebrate the holidays.
Visitors to Herr lobbies will also start to benefit from Marlin digital signage. The same patented technology that’s used to engage Herr workers can now highlight the Herr Foods story to anyone who pays a visit. It’s a story worth telling.
Ensuring Reach & Visibility Through Workplace Digital Signage
The Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha, Nebraska
Metropolitan Utilities District (M.U.D.) provides both natural gas and safe drinking water to nearly a quarter of a million residents in the Omaha, Nebraska, area. Its more than 850 employees include both technical and administrative staff across multiple facilities.
Link all employees across multiple facilities with a visual messaging system.
Turnkey digital signage that enables centralized message creation, scheduling, distribution & reporting.
Employees now have a go-to venue they trust will always contain the most up-to-date announcements & updates.
The Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha, Nebraska, (M.U.D.) has seven separate facilities located throughout the metro area. They employ numerous shift workers, with the majority of the workforce in the field answering services requests from customers and ensuring the District’s gas and water delivery systems are optimally maintained.
Reaching employees in a variety of locations, shifts and in the field presented the District with a communication dilemma. M.U.D. sought a solution that could provide timely notifications and information to employees in each facility.
M.U.D. selected patented workplace digital signage from Marlin. The system enables the human resources department to upload, schedule, and display content across facilities with absolute certainty.
This uniform approach ensures equal access to important information such as internal job postings, regardless of location and shift. As M.U.D. Employment Manager Claire Learch points out, “This is a great place to work, and many of our employees are long term. Internal position openings are an avenue for our workforce to build their careers.”
A walk-through of the break rooms at the M.U.D. Operations Center reveals the can’t-miss job posting information on their large LCD digital signage screens. The bright, eye-catching displays were installed as part of a turnkey package from Marlin. It included everything from site evaluation to installation by a team that met M.U.D.’s strict security check background requirements.
At any time, M.U.D. administrators can log into the cloud-based digital signage content management system (CMS) and review a report of content they’ve posted to their digital signage. This reporting feature means there’s always a record of which job openings were posted, in addition to the locations where the content was displayed, when it was displayed, and for how long. It’s a system that ensures accountability and compliance.
M.U.D. has the option to display their custom content exclusively, either in full-screen mode or in frames that allow for multiple pieces to display at once. But to ensure that there’s always fresh and engaging content, their digital signage also displays news, weather and sports feeds provided by Marlin, in addition to industry-specific content that addresses everything from morale to safety topics. By using different segments of their screen, they’re also able to brand their messaging, 24/7.
M.U.D. is a big proponent of creating and nurturing a culture of safety, often utilizing its digital signage for messaging on everything from slips, trips & falls to heat stroke awareness. But that’s just the beginning. Their digital signage screens also provide a venue for employee recognition, particularly for their Safety Stars program. It’s a way of highlighting individuals and teams across the M.U.D. enterprise who contribute to workplace safety in very tangible ways. It doesn’t matter which department you work in or what your title may be—Safety Stars all receive top billing at M.U.D.
With Marlin digital signage, M.U.D. administrators have a proven method for fair and equal distribution of important workplace information. They have a platform for communication that can also be used for all kinds of safety and morale-building programs, and employees have a go-to venue for reviewing that information without having to log into intranet sites or accessing email. It’s one more reason why M.U.D. continues to be a great place to work.
Reinforcing ‘Safety First’ Messaging 24/7
The International Paper facility in Sumter, South Carolina, has taken its BBS (Behavior Based Safety) process and 5S methodology to a new level with the use of Marlin’s patented Electronic Communication Station technology. See how they’re reaching and engaging employees at their 24/7 operation and supporting their ‘Safety First’ messaging with this easy visual communication tool.
When your facility operates 24/7 with a 12-hour shift schedule, you’d better have an effective way to deliver consistent, attention-grabbing messages to all employees, no matter when they clock-in.
Add in a ‘28-day month,’ with employees working 14 days on/off, and the need to reinforce employee communications sky-rockets.
Andre’ McBride, Plant Manager at International Paper’s Sumter facility, was looking for an innovative solution for this particular workplace communication challenge. He needed it to be:
- 24/7 (without relying upon email)
- Ongoing (not just a limited-time initiative)
- Customizable so that safety, quality, and production messages were focused on the Sumter facility
For Andre’ and his team, the answer came in the form of Marlin’s Electronic Communication Station (ECS) technology—a patented workplace digital signage platform for easily distributing management messages via any number of flat-screen monitors throughout a facility.
The Beginnings of ‘The Cutting Edge’
The Sumter facility, which employs 112 hourly workers, is responsible for paper sheeting operations, receiving large paper rolls from mills in Selma, Alabama, Eastover and Georgetown, South Carolina. It takes a skilled, highly knowledgeable workforce focused on quality and attention to detail to convert those heavy rolls into the nicely packaged paper you may find at big box stores like Office Depot and Staples. Many businesses also utilize International Paper’s high-end, customized and branded letterhead. That means there’s always a strong need to communicate with employees, making sure they’re ready to live up to their local motto, ‘We will not fail our customers!’
The team in Sumter once used a common bulletin board for employee communication. The boards were tagged with a nameplate of ‘The Cutting Edge,’ a reference to the nature of their work in the paper cutting industry. From there, the facility utilized a poster program developed by Marlin that addressed common workplace issues through visual communication. “The Marlin posters helped, and we did that from the standpoint of ‘Safety First,’” says Andre’. “It did exactly what we wanted it to do. The monitors are just the next step.”
This ‘next step’ fittingly maintains the same nameplate of ‘The Cutting Edge,’ which appears at the top of their two digital signage displays. And it’s clear that Andre’ and his team have exponentially built out their ‘Safety First’ messaging with their new visual communication technology, which displays several safety-related messages throughout the day.
Enhancing Existing Safety Programs
The Sumter facility’s modern visual communication plan supports their BBS (Behavior Based Safety) process. Managers and employees have entered into a partnership to identify possible safety issues, communicate those issues, and encourage everyone to examine their daily safety behavior.
Many of the messages posted to ‘The Cutting Edge’ digital message boards are fully aligned with BBS and also 5S methodology, a workplace organization system that can help with both safety and efficiency. At any given time, their boards may display a photo of an actual work area at their facility. Captions then challenge workers to examine the photo from one standpoint or another, such as ‘housekeeping.’ It’s all about helping to avoid ‘at-risk conditions.’
The boards are also recognized as the place to get reminders about many other site-specific safety initiatives and meetings. Messages are branded for easy recognition, such as with their S.H.A.R.K. pieces, which focus on Safety, Health, Awareness, Responsibility, and Knowledge.
It’s clear that Andre’ and his team at the Sumter facility recognize the importance of celebrating safety success. That’s why ‘The Cutting Edge’ boards display ‘Safety Employee of the Month’ pieces. This content is easy to produce, often starting with a simple PowerPoint that is then uploaded and scheduled through Marlin’s cloud-based Content Management System (CMS). Pieces always include a picture of a smiling award winner—a real attention-grabber and easy way to promote a culture of safety and build morale.
Andre’ also uses the built-in QuickCounter feature to count up the number of ‘Days Since the Last Recordable’ and ‘Days Since the Last lost Work Day.’ They recently used their boards to recognize a safety milestone, 2 years of ‘No Lost Work Day Cases.’
Marlin Content: A Key Safety Component
“The Marlin pieces have a huge impact,” Andre’ says of the animated safety content that Marlin automatically makes available for use with ‘The Cutting Edge’ boards. “They make you think, ‘Wow, what even made that person consider doing something like that?!’” Andre’ exclaims as he recalls pieces that highlight extreme safety do’s and don’ts.
While the Marlin pieces help attract attention, Andre’ explains that employees enjoy many aspects of their digital boards. They like the employee recognition pieces and being well-informed about their facility, and they also like the weather, news clippings, and current events that Marlin supplies. This compelling contribution of information gets people looking at the boards on a regular basis.
The partnership created by management and employees through effective communication and transparency is a big part of the Sumter facility’s long-term success. Whether ‘The Cutting Edge’ boards highlight plant objectives, safety, or quality messages, Andre’ and his team can rest assured that every day and night, employees will be welcomed by a communication system that grabs attention and builds a sense of community. The boards have met the required objectives, and the faces of smiling employees on the digital displays are a reflection of a facility that is setting a standard in workplace communication.
When a well-informed, team-oriented workforce is essential
This manufacturer of high-end faucets and bathroom fixtures needed a communication tool that could unify its multi-building campus, reach workers beyond desktops, and overcome a language barrier for their ESL (English as a Second Language) workforce.
You can bet that when you’re producing faucets and bathroom fixtures worthy of installation in the Cunard QE2 and luxury hotels around the globe, having a well-informed, team-oriented workforce is essential.
So it’s not surprising that Renee’ Maxell, Director of Human Resources at Hansgrohe, Inc. in Alpharetta, Georgia, turned to Marlin’s patented workplace digital signage technology (Electronic Communication Station) to ensure that their employee communication capabilities are as robust as their world-renowned fixtures.
The Need for a New Approach
The Alpharetta location faced a unique set of communication challenges. For starters, their campus consists of three separate buildings, making it difficult to share information that would normally spread through word of mouth. And although their office staff has all the traditional communication tools, nearly half of the workforce (their production and assembly departments) don’t have access to email. “There was no consistent, easy way to reach everyone,” Renee’ laments. To complicate matters, Hansgrohe also saw language barriers as it welcomed a growing number of skilled workers from Asia, Eastern Europe, Central America and other parts of Latin America.
Welcome to the H2 Boards
Renee’ and her team at Hansgrohe were already familiar with workplace content from Marlin, having been subscribers to Marlin’s poster-based content for years. But it was time to take advantage of Marlin’s digital signage program, which offers subscribers the ability to post their own content to one or more screens throughout their facilities and to utilize safety, quality, and motivational pieces produced by Marlin.
Hansgrohe launched with six screens, making for a strong presence in their break rooms and production areas at each of its three buildings. Affectionately referred to as their H2 boards (a nod to an in-house printed newsletter called Hansgrohe Happenings), their digital signage solution is now their preferred method for distributing company messages and staying connected to what’s going on in the community.
“We rely on Marlin for our safety communication and motivation pieces, but we do put our own content in. Safety metrics around lost days, and general employee messages about company events, promotions, and new hires,” Renee’ explains. “With the three buildings we have to stay linked, and we can now do this in a timely manner, making sure everyone has the same consistent information.”
Visual Communication Bridges the Language Gap
Hansgrohe is a lean manufacturer with a visual manufacturing base. “Some things are universal,” says Renee’. “Pictures are universal. People understand a smiling face. They understand that people in a photograph shaking hands is a good thing. And so we became much more visual in the way we communicated. Obviously, those who don’t speak English probably won’t be able to read it either, so a visual becomes so much more important to fill in that gap.” Communication with workers who come from other countries is now handled with ease through visuals and their H2 boards.
Ease of Use
All departments at the Alpharetta location are encouraged to submit content for posting to the H2 boards. Most often, that content is in the form of PowerPoints and Word documents. In some cases, these are files that were created specifically for the H2 boards; other times, managers are simply extending the reach of one of their existing messages.
Although an unlimited number of users can log in to Marlin’s web-based platform to load, enhance, and schedule content, Hansgrohe currently flows their files through one administrator, their receptionist. When this position was recently occupied by various temp workers, Renee’ saw first-hand how quickly new users were able to catch on to the content management system. “It’s very user-friendly,” Renee’ is happy to proclaim. “It’s very nice because I don’t have to train every person on how to put up and take down graphics and metrics and everything else.”
Employee Feedback and Results
Renee’ encourages employees to comment on what they see on their H2 boards. “We run a script along the bottom using the QuickTicker feature to get feedback about what they’re seeing or not seeing on the board. And people will be pretty vocal about it.” Employees have commented on everything from the type of pieces they like to how long a piece should be displayed for optimal exposure and readability during their break periods.
Some of the most popular pieces posted to Hansgrohe’s H2 boards are those that help celebrate employees who give back to the community. For example, employees recently volunteered time and PTO for United Way’s Annual Day of Caring Event. So their H2 boards highlighted this spirit of giving by showing photos of smiling Hansgrohe employees as they donned “Live United” shirts and helped prepare over 60,000 meals for Forsyth County, Georgia.
Ultimately, it’s employee feedback that helps identify the H2 boards as a well-received venue for employee communication. And it helps Hansgrohe deliver the most “clear, concise, and consistent” messaging across multiple buildings and departments, all while embracing the diverse workforce responsible for the quality and attention to detail evidenced in the demand for Hansgrohe products.
Digital Signage Program for State-of-the-Art Facility
Coastal Corrugated, Inc.
Award-winning manufacturer of corrugated packaging deploys digital signage to ensure effective communication in a 24/7 operation. See how their visual communication system plays a big role in promoting their unique company culture in a fast-paced work environment.
Jim Bozard, Founder & CEO of Coastal Corrugated, Inc. (CCI), in Charleston, South Carolina, wants to make one thing clear, “Our people are our greatest asset. The people make all the difference in what makes this company uniquely more valuable to its customers. The more we can invest in ourselves and help each one enjoy the experiences of the work environment, while being more productive, the better we are at everything we do.”
The ‘people’ Jim refers to are the 104 employees that comprise CCI’s customer service staff, sales team, in-house design department, production shifts, and delivery crew… all of whom secure the company’s success in the highly competitive packaging manufacturing market.
One way Jim decided to invest in his people was through the use of workplace digital signage from Marlin. Marlin’s patented Electronic Communication Station technology was implemented to help the Charleston facility achieve the following goals:
- Recognize/celebrate employees
- Ensure effective communication in a 24/7 operation
- Reach workers who aren’t sitting at a desk
- Fully utilize visual communication (for high noise zones)
Jim was already familiar with Marlin, having been a subscriber to the Marlin workplace poster program, which addresses a wide variety of safety, morale, and customer service issues through visual communication. The Electronic Communication Stations (ECS) were the next step for a facility that operates with state-of-the-art equipment. ECS delivers the best of both worlds for CCI—providing Marlin’s expertly produced workplace content while also allowing users to upload, enhance, and schedule their own custom content in just minutes.
The 50” LCD screens that are part of the CCI digital signage system were installed throughout the facility. “We had them placed strategically, especially in the production area, so that a balance is struck between job focus and information delivery,” Jim shares. Screens are also placed in their visitor conference room and customer service area. “When we know a VIP is coming or a meeting is taking place that affects more than just a few people, we’ll schedule a message to the screens for just the right amount of time.”
“We use the screens to call out employees for special accolades,” Jim says with a smile. “In fact, we just had a guy hit 9 years with the company, and he’s on the screens.” The screens also recognize birthdays and a variety of milestones throughout the year. Jim points out that employees are naturally curious about their coworkers. That’s why they also post content that employees contribute to about exciting events in their lives, such as the birth of a child. This helps ensure that communication isn’t all work-related. It can be fun and personal as well.
Building on the theme of fun and employee recognition seems to be easy for Jim and his team at Coastal Corrugated, Inc. “It’s really important that people enjoy what they do. And Marlin really helps them to do that,” Jim says as he stands next to a custom ECS piece that announces “CCI’s Play in the Park Day.” The message starts with the text, “We’ve all been working hard, and now it’s time to have a little fun.” The day promises games, ‘awesome eats,’ and even a dunking booth that has the whole team eager to see Jim get soaked.
A 24/7 operation poses a unique set of communication challenges. CCI can now use its digital boards to schedule content so that all shifts can see timely messages, no matter when they clock in. Messages can even be scheduled by users who are off-site, thanks to Marlin’s cloud-based Content Management System (CMS).
The screens also help reach a large portion of the workforce that doesn’t sit at a computer desk all day. “I’m impressed with how quickly people pick up what’s been posted on the board and how that knowledge circulates back through the office,” Jim says. “It’s just like when people watch ESPN and CNN. They want to be the first to know what’s going on and be able to say to others, ‘You didn’t know about this or that? Let me tell ya.’”
When Visual Communication is Essential
Like most manufacturing companies, workers in CCI’s production area are surrounded by machinery, forklifts, and delivery trucks. The resulting noise can make it difficult to share information verbally, even when you step away to take a short break. This is why the ECS screens and visual communication are a welcome addition near the production areas. With just a glance, it’s easy for workers on a break to understand what a message is all about. There’s no need to ask someone to repeat something. It’s clear and concise information. Whether the screens display their own custom fun content, production metrics, and office news, or Marlin safety content, the key here is that it’s visual.
ECS offers a flexible platform that can adapt to the changing needs of the organization. This came in handy when the main ECS administrator at CCI went on maternity leave. The system’s intuitive interface and video training modules helped a new user to upload and schedule PDFs, PowerPoints, photos, and even video without missing a beat.
CCI also benefits from an ECS system that automatically populates with the latest advancements and upgrades. It’s a communication solution that’s ready to meet the demands of today and tomorrow, from new file conversion capabilities to exciting ways to enhance your content. It’s a resource that fits right in at CCI’s state-of-the-art facility. And it translates to a workforce that is better informed and looking forward to providing exemplary service each and every day.
Back-of-the-House Hospitality Staff Communication System that Rocks
Hard Rock Rocksino
See how the first-ever Hard Rock Rocksino increased attendance at employee benefits meetings, encouraged employee survey participation, promoted their philanthropic efforts, and much more… all while using a visual communication system that could match the hip vibe at this unique property.
The Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield, Ohio, had some unique challenges when it opened its doors in 2013. Not only did it have to deliver on the promise of the Hard Rock brand, which is synonymous with fun, excitement, and quality entertainment; it was also a racino, with the larger property encompassing both a gaming facility and a harness racetrack. There was no proven blueprint for this type of combined property. But one thing was clear: a well-informed, motivated staff would play a crucial role in making this first-ever Rocksino a success.
To help achieve their goals in rapid time, the Rocksino needed a back-of-the-house staff communication system that could be as hip and engaging as the rest of their property. They chose workplace digital signage from Marlin, which offers a patented visual employee communication system with a proven track record in the hospitality industry.
The Marlin system provides the flexibility to deliver custom messages best suited for this new kind of Hard Rock property. “We didn’t fit a specific mold,” notes Andrew Seiler, Benefit Specialist at the Northfield Park location. “Yes, we have standards to apply that come from Hard Rock and Northfield Park Associates LLC, which also operates the adjacent harness racing track property. But as a first-ever Rocksino, we have a unique workforce and employee communication needs. So we acquired a solution that could help us handle issues specific to our property as well as reinforce our larger standards.”
Starting on the Beat
It’s imperative to welcome new employees the right way. Part of the Rocksino onboarding process involves an introductory benefits meeting. Attendance is mandatory. But it was always a challenge to get everyone to show up on the first try. Inevitably, managers would have to be notified when meetings were missed. This is where their Marlin digital signage made a noticeable impact. The 42” flat screen monitors hooked into the Marlin system display meeting notices throughout the property’s cafeteria and near a time clock. “I had the highest benefits meeting participation last month,” Seiler proclaims. Seiler, who is responsible for promoting health & wellness at the Rocksino, once had to remind managers that anywhere from 15-25 new employees missed benefits meetings. But with the visual reminders on the Marlin communication boards, that number dropped to only two absences in the most recent month.
Request Lines are Open
A large number of the Hard Rock Rocksino’s employees have direct contact with guests frequenting the property’s bars and restaurants, music theatres, racino, and gift shops. Wait staff, bartenders, ushers, security, floor managers and more are the first to see what makes guests happy and where there is room for improvement. Employee surveys are crucial for recording these findings for future action and getting feedback, recommendations, and requests from the employees themselves. The Rocksino’s digital signage system played a major role in getting the word out about the survey and encouraging participation.
First, it was determined that a very simple message in prominent rotation on their screens would work best for this survey campaign. Ample time (2-3 weeks) was allotted to ensure awareness across all shifts, including on-call staff that is brought in for larger music events. And the messages offered an incentive: The first department to achieve 100% survey participation would receive special recognition. The incentive was a perfect match for a communication system that brings employees together in a shared viewing environment. Departments rallied in a public way to encourage each other. And in the end: “We had 99% participation from all staff. That’s huge!” announces Seiler.
Reporting that Rocks
The Marlin digital signage system comes standard with a Dashboard View for administrators, providing an easy reporting feature of all the content that’s been posted to a screen or multiple screens. Reports can be exported into Excel format that can be passed along to other managers for review. This has come in handy at the Northfield site.
“We have three different unions and executives at all levels in our organization who may need to know exactly what was communicated to our staff and when,” states Seiler. “With the Marlin reporting feature, we can say with certainty that a particular issue was addressed and here are all the facts going back as far as our original installation.” The Dashboard can also pull up a visual representation of the posted content, so there’s never a question about what the message contained.
The Dashboard also enables a keyword search for posted content. So if there’s feedback from a staff member about a message that needs to be repeated, a simple description of the piece makes it easy enough for the digital signage administrator to find and re-post.
All You Need is Love
The Northfield Hard Rock Rocksino has already achieved the highest overall market share for gaming devices in the state of Ohio. But one look at their Marlin digital signage screens reveals that Hard Rock places just as much emphasis on their philanthropic efforts. Messages are displayed that align with their mottos: Love All, Serve All; All Is One; Take Time To Be Kind; Save The Planet.
One particular posted message is entitled, “Imagine There’s No Hunger,” a nod to Rock ‘n’ Roll’s very own John Lennon. The message challenges Hard Rock staff to “stuff the bus” and donate non-perishable food items or to visit one of their restaurants where the cost of specialty soup will benefit their “Imagine” campaign.
The Rocksino is also an energy-efficient property, which was designed to be as earth-friendly as possible. Their digital signage program ties into this thinking, enabling a vast reduction in the amount of paper required for printed memos and posters. It’s an easy way to reduce their footprint and “save the planet.”
For Those About to Rock, We Salute You
With the Marlin digital signage platform, the Northfield Hard Rock Rocksino has found a new way to rapidly deploy effective back-of-the-house communications, reach staff across multiple functions and shifts, meet the reporting requirements of multiple stakeholders, and give a lift to staff morale and the greater Cleveland/Akron community. Management can rest assured that as guests enter the property ready to embark on their ‘rock’ experience, a well-informed, in-tune staff is ready to roll.
Reaching Employees Around the Globe
Ascend Performance Materials
When Ascend Performance Materials decided to introduce digital signage for employee communication, they had a very clear objective. As a global manufacturer of nylon, plastics and synthetic fibers, they needed to reach all their employees, whether they were in offices, plants or control rooms. They chose Marlin Electronic Communication Station (ECS) because it offered flexibility and ease of use for multiple locations and users.
Having a Plan
It began with a pilot with installations at headquarters in Houston and a plant in Chocolate Bayou. The goal was to benchmark the installation and training process to be used to roll out to four other plants. The process went so well that the rollout to the other four plants was initiated ahead of schedule.
From the start, Ascend understood the importance of having a communications strategy. Consistent branding was critical. The screens would be branded Ascend Communication Stations (ACS). According to Marianne Cone, Director of Communications, “Prior to ACS, we used broadcast email. ACS and our company Intranet, iAscend, came online around the same time. We use the two in a very integrated fashion to call attention, educate and call our employees to action.” The screens added visual impact and made it easy for Ascend to reach everyone at the company, site and unit level.
Their strategy consisted of:
- Enlisting a team of champions from the 5 locations. They’d be responsible for creating and posting content and promoting ACS.
- Training everyone on the product prior to installation so that they would have great content ready to go the minute the screens were installed.
- Creating a policy manual for ACS brand standards, located on the Intranet for easy access.
- Creating branded templates making it easy to post pictures, captions and text.
- Installing screens in high traffic areas such as break rooms, and hallways near kitchens and restrooms.
Solving the Content Challenge
One of the biggest challenges with digital signage is keeping the content fresh. Marlin supplies new workplace content each day and makes it easy for users to create custom content. Monica Jackson, ICS Communications Manager, refers to herself as the steward of ACS. Her enthusiasm and commitment to the project is contagious. She pushes content from headquarters to all locations, working with ACS Administrators and Unit Leaders on the front line who add local content. The ACS team shares ideas.
“We have content strategy meetings. Everyone is very busy, but we hold each other accountable and share our ideas for new ways to use ACS. We want to keep it fun and fresh and keep people guessing about what is coming next. It’s about striking a balance of serious and light, business and personal.”
Here are some of the ways that Ascend keeps their content fresh:
- Success stories for A2E, Ascend’s quality initiative. Describing successful projects with pictures and recognition.
- Metrics tied to each location e.g., Control Rooms posting safety metrics, deliverables, and production data.
- Anniversaries, birthdays, baby pictures and community events
- Celebrating awards such as Houston’s Healthiest Workplace
- Posting metrics and safety messages in the Control rooms
- Simplified metrics with captions to explain the context
- Customer Spotlight stories
- My Job Rocks, individual stories from Ascend employees
- Repurposing content from the newsletter to ACS
- Call to action initiatives such as Open Enrollment for Benefits and Wellness initiatives
Ascend surveyed their employees to get feedback on ACS. They really like seeing projects and success stories from other sites. It gives them a sense of the bigger picture and gets them thinking about what they might do differently. The most common request was for more screens.
According to Monica, “ACS has really helped us drive traffic to our Intranet. We post a high-level message and send them to iAscend to learn more.”
In reviewing the program, Marianne stated, “The thing we like most about ACS is the ability to reach people who do not work in front of a computer all day every day. And it gives us the opportunity to share local site information, company-wide. ACS makes it possible to reach a much larger segment of our population keeping more people better informed.”
Reducing Workplace Injuries by More Than 60 Percent
Bemis Company, Inc.
Many things have changed in the 150 years since Judson Bemis launched his textile bag manufacturing business with $2,000 of his own money. Today Bemis Company, Inc. is a global enterprise producing advanced flexible packing products and pressure sensitive materials that are light years away from the original sturdy cotton bags that carried milled products. Yet what has remained consistent throughout, is the company’s commitment to innovation and its strong focus on workplace safety.
Leveraging innovation for safety awareness
Today’s operations sprawl across nearly 60 facilities in 10 countries. This presents an ever-growing challenge when it comes to communicating safety procedures efficiently and effectively.
Recently, Bemis’ New London, Wisconsin plant tackled that challenge by launching an innovative, high-tech communications program that enabled them to increase safety awareness.
Low-Tech = Low-Impact
Like many other manufacturing companies, Bemis had typically delivered safety messages and other company information through traditional, low-tech channels: cork bulletin boards. From the break rooms to the locker rooms, pieces of paper containing safety regulations and tips were tacked to the walls. But it was difficult to keep the boards updated. They became old news fast. They didn’t capture the attention of employees, and critical safety information was lost.
“All our important safety metrics and alerts were falling into a black hole,” says Jane Coenen, safety and training manager for New London. “In order to keep our employees informed with current information, we needed to find a new way to provide them with a constant flow of up-to-date, relevant safety information.”
A High-Tech Solution
Last year, Bemis launched a strategic initiative to enhance employee safety and overall communication. To help achieve this goal, they partnered with Marlin of Wallingford, Connecticut, experts in helping companies improve safety, quality, productivity, and morale by using visual communication to reach all employees. Marlin’s Electronic Communication Station™ (ECS), enabled Bemis to automatically display key safety messages and other workplace content on a high-profile, flat panel screen.
Bemis strategically positioned the 50” flat-panel display in its highest-traffic area—the locker room—where more than 400 employees come and go every day. The dynamic display offers a steady stream of animated content including corporate safety metrics and alerts; company news and policies; and health benefit and wellness information, as well as real-time news, sports, and local weather updates.
“Our employees are initially drawn in by the colorful, animated, workplace content on the ECS—and then their attention naturally moves to the critical safety updates,” says Coenen. “We like having the combination of the Marlin-supplied industry content and the ability to post our own important in-house information. The system arms them with valuable, up-to-date information.”
Today, the workplace safety record at the Bemis New London facility is stronger than ever. Since unveiling The Marlin program as part of its innovative safety-training and communications program, the company has slashed the number of workplace injuries at that facility by more than 60 percent. Additionally, the New London plant recently won the prestigious 2007 Bemis CEO Safety Excellence Award.
“Once you’ve had Marlin’s electronic system, there’s no going back,” says Coenen. “Our employees are better connected because of it, helping Bemis become an even better employer focused on building a strong business.”
Bemis is expanding its partnership with Marlin to build out its high-tech safety communications program, including plans to install two more ECSs in high-traffic break rooms by the end of 2008.