Volkswagen SA- Team culture improves with 8%

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Volkswagen SA- Team culture improves with 8%

Through strategic communicati on activities, DevCom helped Volkswagen SA to improve its team culture by more than 8%; decrease its absenteeism with 4% and create a 70% awareness of the company values.


 Our first big corporate client – the South African subsidiary of a multinational automotive company – validated our belief that creative, in-depth research is the only foundation on which a successful communication strategy can be built.


The Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) plant in Port Elizabeth manufactures two vehicle models and engine derivatives for both the local and international markets. It employs over 4 000 people.


At the end of 2010, VWSA launched a new strategy to take the business from “Good to Great” by 2014. Internal communication was an integral component of the strategy’s people pillar. Its role in “Good to Great” was the implementation of an internal communication strategy that would keep employees informed, provide communication support, communicate strategic initiatives and build relationships. The aim was to improve employee engagement and create a sense of belonging.


The Internal Communication team decided that an audit needed to be done in the production areas to establish a baseline for internal communication. DevCom was contracted to work with them on the project.


Our recommendation was practical research that would answer business questions.


The research involved 258 employees representing all six production areas and all organisational levels, from operators to the production director. In the interest of consistency, we used the same methodology across the board, namely facilitated questionnaires, personal interviews and dynamic focus groups.


The two most salient findings from this process were the need to revive the human element – the VW family and the fact that communication and organisational excellence depended on close cooperation between the Production, Communication and HR divisions. Addressing communication gaps came down to rediscovering the balance between people and production.



Scepticism was a major initial barrier. The client had doubts about our storytelling methodology but after several meetings, and to their credit, the engineers trusted us.


A further source of scepticism was the fact that similar processes in the past had not led to any changes and, more importantly, participants never received feedback. The research team worked hard to overcome this and personally provided participants with feedback about the research findings and the proposed solutions. This action alone created tremendous goodwill, trust and positivity, which set the tone for the solutions implementation phase.


Despite all this, the research project was a resounding success. Based on the findings, the client developed and implemented a robust solution for shop floor communication, fully supported by leadership. The solution focused on providing a platform for sharing information and engaging with employees through open dialogue. All managers and supervisors were trained and coached on how to present to and engage with their employees. Meeting frequency was increased, and a policy and evaluation process was developed with full communication toolkits.


This ground-breaking research collaboration between DevCom and VWSA won an IABC Gold Quill Excellence Award and was named Best of the Best in the Research Category of the 2012 competition.