Putting the Deep Heat on employee communications
Mentholatum was founded in 1889 in Kansas. As the name implies, one of the company’s most prominent ingredients was menthol, extracted from peppermint plants in Hokkaido, Japan. So, it is fitting that the company is now owned by Japan-based Rohto Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd. Manufacturing and marketing for UK, Europe and Middle East customers is based in East Kilbride, Scotland.
Rob Yateman, Managing Director UK, Middle East and Africa, was appointed in 2015 and has a strong interest in building a more inclusive workplace, reaching out to all employees so that there’s understanding of common goals and objectives. However Yateman also wanted to foster two-way communication, listening to the diverse voices around his company’s territory. To deliver on this vision, Mentholatum has taken a path familiar to employee communications professionals, from printing large-scale informational posters distributed around the factory and offices, through to web-based intranets that were challenging to manage and had little take-up outside the office management. To broaden engagements the company also provided factory floor workers with their own tablets. However, these initiatives didn’t improve two-way communication, while also being difficult to manage and refresh.
In 2020, faced with all the restrictions of the pandemic and the need to keep suddenly scattered staff engaged and informed, the company deployed LiveTiles Reach over its legacy intranet and Microsoft Azure. Installing Reach, although it only took a day, set the stage for a complete transformation of Mentholatum’s communications.
“Our engagement has gone through the roof, and that’s been so vital for the past difficult year,” said Yateman.
Mentholatum was considered an essential supplier and so, apart from a two-week shutdown, the factory was going at full tilt. The production teams had to work in ‘bubbles’ with strict rules around association, distancing, cleanliness of the manufacturing lines, and many other factors.
The company’s editorial and engagement task force is responsible for keeping the content flowing. The group – now 10 people, representing a cross-section of teams and departments, is also tasked with encouraging engagement across all the company. They’re working on different channels and interests, on showcasing life stories such as unusual hobbies, career paths and work-from-home locations.
As a pharmaceutical company, Mentholatum must operate with strict regulatory guidelines. Policy manuals and directions are now available and searchable within Reach, making it easier to find and less invasive to track compliance.
Everyone in the company, whether they work at a desk, on the factory floor, or in a remote location, has an individual ID for the Intranet, making it not only easy to save and recover information but also cementing that sense of ‘we are all one Mentholatum’ that MD Rob Yateman has spearheaded.
“In some sense, Reach was tailor-made for this situation,” Yateman added. “We had a dispersed, multi-location, multi-lingual workforce that needed not only the latest information and guidance but also needed to be better connected together. Baby pictures became as important as procedural updates!”