Thought Leadership

ICON 2022 Recap: How Amazon Engages Employees Through Powerful Storytelling

Amazon warehouse

Not long ago, the only communication that Amazon’s warehouse employees received on the job came from their managers. The employees don’t use computers while working and cellphones were not allowed on the floor.

Laurel Flaningan, Amazon’s senior manager of internal communications for its operations centers, has worked with her team to convey messages to warehouse employees in new ways. In a monthly video series called “Chart Your Path,” for example, employees tell their own stories about their jobs at Amazon.

“We want to inform, engage, motivate and inspire our employees,” Flaningan said on Nov. 15 during her ICON 2022 presentation, “Engaging Employees through Powerful Storytelling — What Internal Communicators Need to Know.”

Videos in the “Chart Your Path” series have been the communications team’s most-engaged pieces of content, she said. The employee stories also help communicate business objectives, she said.

“It might be an associate who started out picking up inventory for customer orders, who is now a manager leading a shift. We show real people with real stories about their career journeys.”

In one video, an Amazon employee shared that he had lost his previous job the week before Thanksgiving — a position he’d held for 10 years and thought he’d have until he retired. He was over 50 years old. “I could have given up, but Amazon took a chance,” he says in the professionally produced video. “I gave the job everything I had. Now I’m senior operations manager at Amazon Air.”

Defined style and voice

Communications for Amazon’s warehouse employees have an upbeat, conversational tone, Flaningan said. “We’re down-to-earth, we’re respectful, we’re trustworthy.”

For all internal communications, “We thought it was really important to define our style and our voice,” Flaningan told the ICON 2022 audience in-person and via livestream video. Her team has created a style guide to keep its grammar, style and usage consistent. The goal was to give the audience a great experience and to hold the communications team to a higher professional standard, she said.

One video feature, called “A to Z News in :90,” employs former broadcasters to give warehouse employees company news in 90 seconds, delivered via a mobile app on Sundays and Wednesdays. The clips inform employees about career opportunities at the company and feature team members telling related stories.

“We know what our associates and managers want to hear from us most, which is: ‘What’s in it for me?’” Flaningan said. “And we balance that with what the business needs them to know.”

[Photo credit: wolterke/adobe art]

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