Value Storytelling Is a Must for Employee Engagement

Real storytelling examples inside

  • Employees who are already engaged will eat up the corporate news. Those who are motivated to climb a ladder or to have some influence within the company will stay on top of who’s who and what’s what.

Most employees are disengaged.

  • 36%, however low that number seems, is actually the highest engagement rate since Gallup’s studies began in 2000.
  • 51% of employees are psychologically detached from the company. These employees are ho-hum about the org and guess what: this 51% are actively looking for other jobs.
  • 15% of employees are actively disengaged, which means they’re totally unhappy. This 15% is spreading their miserableness around to teammates and on their social networks.
  • That doesn’t mean that every intranet story or executive video needs to address racial injustice or climate change or gun violence or cultural topic du jour.
  • It means that some stories should indirectly address hot issues by subtly weaving in your organization’s values. You’ll succeed most when the message isn’t blatant or explicit.

3 organizations share their internal news

  • JPMorgan Chase, sharing its economic recovery plan
  • GLG, touting its team’s nonprofit work
  • Utah State, sharing news across its business school

The emerging trend in internal comms storytelling is around values.

  • Once they settle on a story to tell — a new product or a major sales milestone, for example — IC storytellers work extra hard to ensure that a diversity of voices and experiences are expressed in the article.
  • Example of reinforcing corporate values: When the ISIS-inspired attack happened in San Bernardino in 2015, Apple refused to help the federal government hack into the perpetrators’ iPhones. Apple outwardly declared its seriousness about privacy. This value stance lit a fire internally. I spoke with someone in internal comms at Apple who said the event sparked an editorial series about the engineers who make data privacy possible.
  • Example of telling a counter-narrative around values: Last year Spotify got a lot of heat for signing a megadeal with the controversial podcaster Joe Rogan, who has expressed anti-LGBTQ opinions on his show. You can imagine how this upset the LGBTQ+ally community at Spotify. To counter the negative media narrative, internal comms started an editorial series to highlight Spotify’s LGBTQ community, in support of their corporate value of inclusiveness.

The Biden v. Trump eras

  • A tweet or LinkedIn post from the CEO expressing disagreement with whatever Trump just said was (mostly) enough to placate consumers and employees who disagreed with the divisive president.

You need storytelling to bring value stances to life.

  • Levi Strauss example: After the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in which a gunman murdered 26 people, including 20 children, Levi Strauss made very public statements about gun violence and advocated for legislation that restricted the use of guns. That story is told externally as much as it is internally and employees support the narrative. How do we know? Do you see any Levi Strauss employees tweeting or staging walkouts because they don’t agree with the company’s values on gun violence?
  • Patagonia example: Patagonia is taking political stances, making decisions that put a dent in their revenue (e.g., no more vests for Wall Street bankers), and is actually endorsing political candidates. No walkouts or angry tweeting from Patagonia employees because the company takes time to explain its values internally.



Many internal comms teams don’t have an editorial strategy. I’m here to fix that. Newsletter:

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Mister Editorial

Many internal comms teams don’t have an editorial strategy. I’m here to fix that. Newsletter: