Creating Employee Engagement for Peanuts

The digital technologies that employees use everyday can be used to ensure better engagement in the workplace. Let’s play a game of word association. What US city do you think of when I say “peanut?” Plains, Georgia, right? Jimmy Carter put his hometown of Plains – and peanuts, the regions’ most storied crop – on the map when he was sworn in as the 39th president of the United States on January 20, 1977. But the peanut industry, while poised for growth, has in recent years not enjoyed that of similar industries.

That’s why Greg Mills, President of Golden Peanut, recently joined forces with Staywell Health Management.

“We created a brand awareness campaign to bring that industry together,” said Nicole Latimer, President of Staywell.

“To collaborate so that collectively the growers, the farmers, the shellers, the distributors, the manufacturers who use peanuts could all benefit from greater industry awareness from the health benefits and the protein benefits of the peanut product”.
 
Essential to the campaign’s success was employee engagement, often the toughest nut to crack. An October 2016 Gallup survey reported that only 29 percent of workers in the United States and Canada are engaged while at work. While the two countries have the highest engagement level of the 142 surveyed, this still leaves 70 percent of workers either not engaged or actively disengaged.

Luckily, the mobile phones and tablets that employees use in their day-to-day lives – and that most industries once viewed as disruptive – can now be utilized to ensure better engagement in the workplace.  For example, many companies are using mobile apps and Youtube videos in lieu of traditional training classes, and employees earn badges and points in rewards programs inspired by gamification.
 
To boost morale at Golden Peanut and reduce resistance to change, Latimer built upon the company’s history, location and existing partnerships with the former first family and the annual Plains Peanut Festival.  But to reach a new demographic and “add a bit of splash,” employees created new Facebook and Twitter communities.
 
“We know from our research that storytelling enhances comprehension, sometimes up to 40 percent,” said Latimer at the HR Summit. “It inspires people. It gives them something that is relatable. It sets context.”
 
What they didn’t know when the campaign began? There wasn’t a peanut emoji, but they soon used the absence to their benefit. Staywell created a ‘Where is my peanut emoji’ hashtag, and a successful online petition to get a peanut emoji created so people could express their love for peanuts. Because everyone loves a happy ending.
 

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