On the 26th and 27th of April, Staffbase invited communication professionals from all over the world to the Staffbase Summit 2018 for a chance to share best practices, address the challenges of bringing desk and non-desk employees together, and discuss the different ways that companies create a sense of community and belonging at work. 

We welcomed our guests to the Alte Münze, Berlin’s former state mint, located in the historic heart of the city near Alexanderplatz. The two days were packed with exciting workshops and practical hands-on presentations that covered an array of issues faced by internal communications and HR professionals. We were thrilled to see a group of internal communicators, HR specialists, and IT heroes from all over the world sharing their valuable insights and ideas. These guests included Aldi, Brose, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Telekom, RHI Magnesita,  Sparda Bank, and Viessmann. Their presence proved without a doubt that mobile internal communication is a major focus of today’s industry-leading organizations.

Staffbase Summit 2018

The Summit was moderated by Carla Kath-a former Staffbase customer during her career at Franciscan Children's-who is now our Director of Customer Success Strategy. Her strategy for breaking the ice at the event was to lead the crowd in a complex 7-step handshake that not only had people waving hands and bumping fists, but also created the kind of bond that would be the theme of the next two days.

Staffbase Summit 2018, Marielle, T-Systems

Staffbase CEO Dr. Martin Böhringer, who quickly mastered the “basic” step of the handshake challenge, thanked the Summit guests-made up of customers, partners, and other communication specialists. He noted that there were 45 people at the Staffbase User Group Meeting in 2017, a drop in the bucket compared to the more than 150 guests assembled on Thursday morning. He then spoke briefly about how our customer concerns have evolved from the basic question of “Why?” (to foster better connections) to “What?” (to create a great employee experience), and now to the question “How?” which all of us would attempt to answer in the presentations to follow.

Staffbase Summit 2018, Martin Böhringer

Martin pointed out how one major goal of the Staffbase app is to create a way for leadership to give their people digital handshakes, the kind of personal connection that's generally impossible for most of today’s large, distributed companies. The aim of digital communications tools, he said, is to foster the kinds of relationships between employees and companies that have traditionally driven success. Martin was joined on stage by Viessman’s Carsten Lucassen, a friend and customer of Staffbase since 2014. Carsten gave a short teaser about the hugely successful Viessmann app, which he would discuss in greater depth later in the day.  

Martin and Carsten, Staffbase and Viessmann, Summit 2018

After a short coffee break, Marielle van der Werf from T-Systems Netherlands gave the attendees exclusive insights into the seven factors that have made the MyTSNL app such a success (after 5 months, 89% of employees have registered, and 50% of them are active every day) and offered the valuable learnings and use cases they developed after just one year of app use in a presentation titled: “Combine the Online and Offline Worlds in a Smart Way! Enable Your People to Be Proud Ambassadors, Your Best Salespeople, and Natural Recruiters.”

Staffbase Summit 2018, Internal Communication Professionals

Next, Katharina Skarabela from RHI Magnesia took the stage and spoke about how her company used their myRhiMagnesita app to manage cultural change during a massive merger. Working with employees from all over the world, they are a great example of how an international company can optimize their global internal communication. Their app has more than 7,000 downloads, with a rate of 70% active users who create over fifteen pieces of news every week. Their aim was to create a state-of-the-art communication channel that would increase exchange and networking between the company’s dispersed employees. She stressed the importance of including the workers council in the planning of an employee app, and pointed out that a successful rollout takes time. She also stressed making all employee languages available in the app, engaging leadership in its rollout, and using the meal plan-always an employee favorite.

You can find more details on the RHI Magnesita project in our blog here.

Staffbase Summit 2018 Lunch
Staffbase Summit Lunch

Lunch was followed by keynote speaker Cornelia Röper, CEO and founder of Wefugees-an international NGO whose mission is to inform and connect refugees and volunteers both on- and offline. Cornelia talked about how her organization successfully creates a sense of kinship among a very diverse group of people. Her presentation was called Humans Stay Humans, and included seven steps for providing people with the meaning they crave both at work and in their lives.

Meanwhile, Staffbase partners had the chance to work with Frank Wolf, CMO and co-founder of Staffbase, as well as his colleagues Anja Weiß and Sophia Zieger, on "Best Practices for an App Setup." This specific workshop focused on our highly valuable partners. Patrick Noack, Partner Manager at Staffbase, kicked things off by presenting the 2017 Partner of the Year Award, honoring Mark Hobbs and Kelly Jackson from Workvine, the team around Sven Lindenhahn from T-Systems Multimedia Solutions, and Peter Kubesch from Boosting Potentials, for their outstanding work.

Frank then dove into ways how to best pitch Staffbase to potential prospects; how our sales process works; the difference between our discovery and demo calls; and understanding the positioning of our potential customers.

Staffbase Summit 2018, employees at work

He then handed things over to Anja from Customer Success, who went into details about the Staffbase Onboarding Process. She elaborated on the process that helps to make an app successful, which begins as soon as a customer signs a Staffbase contract. The process has three steps: Kickoff, app creation and onboarding, and launch and review. She discussed each step and made it clear what an enormous undertaking the launch of an app really is, while giving our partners useful insights into the details involved, including app design, legalities, the workers council, launch methods, and content creation.

Next, Sophia Zieger took over and went into greater detail about our consulting packages. For example, the Staffbase Content Success Package follows onboarding and includes a 10-day workshop for customers to identify best use cases and design a content strategy. All three members of Staffbase stressed the importance of starting slow and improving the app along the way, as well as the need to continuously listen to our customers and their evolving needs.

Staffbase Summit 2018: Happy Attendees from all over the world

Lauren Guess from Boston’s Franciscan Children’s talked about how the hospital promoted their employee app project and immediately achieved an outstanding adoption rate. Lauren spoke enthusiastically about the effect of gamification for the app. Launching with a dinosaur theme let them play with the idea of getting rid of their old "dinosaur" intranet and moving into a modern age with their app. Dressed as a T. rex, app ambassadors focused on gamification in order to drive onboarding.

Town Hall meetings and games got them to an adoption rate of 92% in just six months, with 50% of those users active in the app daily. To keep these numbers high, they included use cases that compelled employees to use the app every day, such as shift schedules and meal plans. In addition, she gave hands-on advice on how to host a message from a CEO in the app. One of their biggest successes is that 70% of their employees read messages in the app within the first hour after getting them.

Staffbase Summit 2018

Afterwards, HIRSCHTEC’s Felix Schröder addressed the changing nature of modern intranets in his presentation: “Mobile Intranet Is King: Get Every Employee Involved and Work Smart-Chances, Challenges, and Best Practices.” He stressed the importance of having a mobile intranet or app on private devices in order to reach every employee, since access and reach are the most important criteria for internal communication. He concluded by saying that in the field of mobile access, employee apps are the most mature solution available.

HKM’s Lara Widera gave her insights on how an employee app can promote feedback and dialog that generates increased employee happiness. Presenting in German, Lara took the stage talking about the cultural change that came with their app at HKM. After introducing the very traditional German company, she explained how it was restructured with a modern new culture.

Staffbase Summit, Lara Widera, HKM

A central question for them was how to re-engage their employees. Starting by measuring engagement levels, they set themselves challenging goals for cultural change. With a strong focus on internal communication, they launched their employee app to improve not only their cascading information structure but also employee attitudes about their company. Their key goals were to increase transparency and agility. Today, they have a 35% adoption rate (55% of whom are active users) and 90% positive feedback from their employees in the app.

In the afternoon, Alexandra Lang from sunzinet AG took the stage in the gallery with her presentation, “Strengthening Employees: Which Methodology Do I Use to Identify the Needs of My Employees at the Workplace?” She talked about the importance of intranet personalization and how it’s therefore important to ask your employees the right questions before launching any internal comms tool. She went on to stress that defining the needs of your employees is key, as is setting strict goals for a project before you start.

Staffbase Summit: Alexandra Lang from Sunzinet AG

Sarah Wirt from Deutsche Telekom gave a presentation about the "Service Dialog" app, one of the most successful Staffbase apps of all time in terms of adoption. The Telekom app works like a magical triangle, connecting team leads, desk workers, and non-desk workers. Telekom began its work with employee apps in 2014, giving smartphones to their 7,000 frontline employees that same year. With so many employees, it was a move that was strongly needed. Nevertheless, face-to-face communication continued to be lacking.

Telekom, Sarah Wirt, Staffbase Summit

The app changed all of this with use cases such as service news, which informed staff about important goings-on; team blogs and theme channels (more than 450 different blogs); podcasts and videos; and a management channel for connecting employees to the C-level. Their key points for success were solid marketing, management support, a sound content strategy, a good mix of media and information, authenticity, and high goals. 96% of their non-desk workers now use the app, more than 55% every day, and their app has an interaction rate that’s 300% higher than their intranet-generating more than 22,000 comments in the first year of use.

Following a short break, Gaby Neujahr from MontuaPartner Communications in Hamburg gave a presentation on the role of apps in internal communications. She stressed the importance of a mobile channel for non-desk workers in order to foster interaction, increase employee engagement, campaign topics of importance, and to strengthen feelings of community.

Staffbase Summit 2018: Event für Interne Kommunikation

Her success factors for internal communications include putting an emphasis on emotions and culture, measurement and tools, and structure and strategy. Her app's success factors include getting strong support from management, clearly defining target groups, ensuring additional value for users, and involving stakeholders early in the process. She also spoke about how introducing an app is a process of change-meaning it takes a lot of work-and that it’s essential to tell your employees why this process is happening.

Smiths at Staffbase Summit

Last for the day, but certainly not least, was Carsten Lucassen from Viessmann. He took the stage talking about new opportunities for the company’s internal comms platform. Viessmann is far more than just a customer of Staffbase, becoming much like a partner over the last four years. Carsten held a Star Wars themed presentation, which told the story of the Internal Comms Rebellion:

A long time ago in a galaxy far away were the Platform Wars. While the Death Star (or IT as you might call it) was fighting against the Star Destroyer (which you might call the intranet), Viessmann attempted to revolutionize the galaxy through an Internal Comms Rebellion. Their secret weapons were hyperdrive (the great reach of their app) and the Rogue Mothership (the app's relevance). Together with Staffbase, they built a world-class employee app used in more than 15 locations with a 92% adoption rate. The app is a great tool for the people of the rebellion, allowing them to post and comment freely. May the force be forever with them!

For more information on the Vi2Go project, watch our webinar with Carsten Lucassen here.

As day turned to night, talk of Internal Communications continued over cocktails and dinner in the Alter Münze’s Cage Room.

Location Staffbase Summit

Summit Day 2 was kicked off by Matt Manners, international speaker and founder of the Employee Engagement Awards. His presentation centered around the question of why employee engagement is so important, pointing out the fact that customer experience improves with greater employee engagement. This insight lead to his key takeaway, which is that engaged employees are of utmost value to any company. This development also explains why employee experience (a.k.a. people experience) is a top trend in 2018. All humans need to feel that they belong and have purpose. This realization is backed up by studies showing that 43% of companies will make employees their number one audience. 

Today, all company success starts internally.”

Matt Manners, eeAwards
Staffbase Summit Matt Manners

In the following two presentations, Frank Wolf again took to the stage in the Loft, while Staffbase's Katja Reinhardt and Heather Rouke spoke in the Gallery.

Frank provided some useful advice for convincing your workers council of the amazing benefits of an employee app. The interactive session answered question about why a workers council should love the app; whether they even have a say in the decision to get one; and the typical questions and concerns that a workers council might have.

If you want more information on employee apps and workers councils, you can find a detailed video here.

Staffbase Summit Frank Wolf

Client Success Managers Heather and Katja shared their insights into what they’ve seen firsthand as the best practices for an employee app. They focused on use cases that are valuable, relatable and consistent, and then opened the discussion to the group, asking people to share their most beloved and successful use cases. Companies were more than happy to share their success stories. Examples included a "newbie channel" (featuring the newborn babies of employees), the advent calendar plugin, and the upcoming World Cup Bracket Challenge.

Staffbase Product Roadmap

Finally, Patrick Rudolph, Head of Product at Staffbase, stepped onto the main stage. He went into great detail about the work of the past twelve months, including a product redesign, improvements on the CMS and the Chat function, Print on Demand capabilities, new onboarding options, and many more improvements, such as calendar labels, Spanish and French language localization, and the News Feed RSS export. He then gave a short preview of the May release that will bring an archive function to chat; an onboarding improvement package; and a sharing function for social media. He also took a few minutes to introduce the idea portal, the use case guide, and the support portal, all of which were set up to cater to our customers’ needs.

Next, he gave some exclusive insights in regard to the Staffbase roadmap, including new product features such as increased analytics, marketplace integrations, the bottom navigation bar, on-demand translation of content and comments, the ability to recover deleted content, and our impending ISO 27001 certification.

He was then joined on stage by Ulf Kossel who presented the plugins that T-Systems MMS has developed for and with Staffbase. These include polls, a quiz, and an idea portal. Also, Ulf's team is working on several new plugins, including to-do lists and live video for town hall meetings.

Staffbase Summit 2018

Staffbase Summit 2018 came to a close at lunch on Friday at noon, giving everybody one more opportunity to sum up their experience and share their exciting ideas for the future. Looking back at the two days, not only could we not be more pleased to see how so many of our customers joined us for the event, but also that the exchange of ideas and best practices left everyone thinking about what's to come next.

As the future of work becomes increasingly mobile, the ways that people align behind common goals are rapidly changing. But being together face-to-face-in the same room, sharing smiles, and learning directly from one another-is an opportunity that doesn’t come along every day. We look forward to making this a regular event. In fact, let’s shake on it.

Read more about employee communication best practises: