Bayer’s Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) is an ongoing employee program that maximizes efficiency and encourages innovation within Bayer Corporation. Bayer’s President’s Achievement Awards (PAA) are awarded to 10 employee teams that successfully use Bayer’s CIP to make a significant and quantifiable difference for the company and its customers. This recognition event is 12 years old and has been one of the most prestigious in the company. Magnet Communications was instrumental in helping Bayer turn a traditional recognition event into an opportunity to share with employees how their work, directed by CIP, impacted/affected customers. The reaction to this new approach was immensely positive – with event ratings improving nearly 35 percent from 1999 to 2000. One hundred percent of honorees said they would be involved with CIP the following year, compared to 85 percent in 1999. Attendance at the event exceeded projections, so the true impact of the reinvigorated PAA message will not be known until the number of PAA award entries are counted later this year – a number CIP organizers believe will increase substantially.
Historically, the winning PAA teams and guests attended a recognition event in Pittsburgh, Pa., Bayer’s U.S. headquarters. There was no visibility for the event among the greater employee population. Only those involved in the winning teams and their managers participated.
In 1999, for the first time, Bayer brought the PAA recognition event to hometown movie theaters of the winning teams through a live satellite event. This was an effort to include more employees in the celebration, and motivate more employee teams to use the CIP. The 1999 event was a conventional corporate satellite event of serviceable quality, but interest in and attendance at the event were lower than projected. Bayer was concerned that without a new strategy for PAA 2000, employees could lose interest in the PAA and Bayer’s valuable CIP. The PAA event also had not reinforced the corporate brand vision that Bayer “is changing the world with great care.”
RESEARCH AND OBJECTIVES
After reviewing results from employee surveys of the 1999 event, Magnet identified that positive feelings about the satellite event in general were lower than Bayer desired – 61 percent among honorees and 73 percent among non-honorees. Magnet also learned that Bayer site coordinators, who helped plan the events at the individual sites, were overwhelmed with tasks and felt negatively toward the PAA, an emotion that may have rubbed off on employees at those locations.
Magnet understood that Bayer employees needed to be receptive to the PAA to hear its message and therefore be motivated to participate in the CIP, so Magnet established the following objectives:
- Develop a creative approach to demonstrate the effectiveness of CIP for the winning teams and to inspire other teams to use the CIP.
- Relieve the internal headquarters and remote location staff of the daunting details associated with implementing a simultaneous five-city event.
- Develop a program format that would hold the interest of a wide range of employees in different locations, business units and levels of responsibility, as well as communicate the prestige of the event.
- Develop innovative attendance-building tactics to fill each theater.
Key strategies used to generate renewed enthusiasm for the PAA and the CIP, and uphold the brand vision to “change the world with great care,” were:
Celebrate team achievements and CIP impact through customer voices
Showcase the impact of CIP through enthusiastic and committed team members
Reinforce Bayer’s vision to “change the world” with a compatible and compelling theme.
Magnet professionals handled the event planning, promotion, scriptwriting, screening and hiring of talent, videography, decor and technical aspects of the production, titled “Celebrating the Faces of Change at Bayer.” The team held a kickoff teleconference with all Bayer headquarters/remote site coordinators and provided a detailed briefing book for everyone. A Magnet liaison worked with each site coordinator on all the details – from advance work for the filming of winning team videos to setup for pre-event activities and briefing of local hosts. Magnet personnel also managed activities at each site on event day.
Magnet deployed a campaign to build attendance for the PAA, including an “e-teaser” e-mail campaign over four weeks leading up to the event, print invitations, plant/promotional posters, and promotion of an “out-of-the-box” lunch with a unique menu and surprises inside. In addition, Bayer managers were briefed on the importance of encouraging employee attendance and were asked to avoid booking meetings on the event day to ensure as much participation as possible.
The 2000 event was structured around telling the teams’ stories from the point of view of the people positively affected – their customers. For example, one patient – whose access to a life-saving drug was improved because of one of the team’s efforts – gave a tribute to the team’s tenacity and effectiveness as part of the recognition ceremony. In addition, videos of each winning team – shown during the event – told the story of the team’s success through the words of the team members, rather than a voiceover, for a powerful first-hand endorsement of the Bayer CIP process. Magnet ensured that the team successes were presented in layman’s terms so that the stories and the CIP process would be understood by a wide audience.
Following the PAA, Magnet coordinated the editing of a CD of the PAA that was distributed to all Bayer employees to further merchandise the effectiveness of the Bayer CIP and pay tribute to the winning teams.
- More than 90 percent of Bayer employees attending the event rated the satellite event very worthwhile. More than 90 percent also responded that they plan to be actively involved with the continuous improvement process in 2001.
- Ninety-eight percent of Bayer employees (non-honorees) said the customer and patient participation in the event made it more meaningful to them.
- More than 95 percent of Bayer employees felt the event increases awareness of Continuous Improvement across Bayer.
- Attendance exceeded projections of 1,000 for all locations, with 1,500 total in attendance.
- Site coordinators and key contacts confirmed that Magnet made their jobs easier, and thoroughly managing the program.
- Magnet was asked to produce the satellite event again in ’01.
1999 Survey Results Compared to 2000
Satellite event overall positive
Plan to be actively involved in CIP next year