Communicating with empathy to drive change

Their story

This global company chose to overhaul its paid time off program as a way to address inequities among U.S.-based teams, improve competitiveness in its talent offerings and significantly increase flexibility in how and when employees could take time off.

Despite positive intent, the change came with some potential drawbacks: Managers would lose some valued autonomy to grant “sick days.” Employees would need to take more ownership in managing and tracking time off.  

As a result, the project team knew there was risk of misunderstandings, particularly among working parents who valued flexibility in juggling their home and work lives.

How we helped

  • Communication strategy
  • Messaging
  • Audience segmentation
  • Manager training
  • Home mailing
  • Whiteboard explainer video
  • Advice & counsel


The campaign team conducted an intensive employee-listening session and monitored social media channels, to identify specific risks. The listening exercises helped narrow in on audience segments that reflected concerns and hidden anxieties.

Key to success:

Communication messaging that reflected the many different ways employee  segments viewed “time off” in their lives, through a technique we call motive matching. To address risks, the campaign also  focused on helping employees accept personal responsibility and see the advantages of the paid time-off changes.

A custom-crafted whiteboard video was widely used to show how the policy change gave employees new flexibility to manage work/life balance.


Post-implementation feedback was extremely positive, from managers and employees alike.

The  HR team reported that change announcements were well-accepted. Implementation of the new policy proceeded smoothly, indicating broad understanding of key changes.

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