Global beverage company, The Coca-Cola Company, last week celebrated its 132nd birthday globally, 90 years in Africa, and 70 in Kenya, by holding a town hall meeting with its staff.
The event held at Coca-Cola Plaza in Upper Hill, Nairobi, was also an opportunity for its staff to interact with top executives.
Such interactions, studies show, enhance internal communication, increase employee engagement and loyalty. With dedicated employees, a company is able to step up its marketing strategies.
“At Coca-Cola, East and Central Africa Franchise, we not only use town hall sessions to communicate key issues in the company, we also use them to introduce new staff and celebrate key milestones and achievements in the company,” said Emily Waita- Macharia, Public Affairs Director, Coca-Cola East and Central Africa Franchise.
“During the most recent town hall meeting, we celebrated Coca-Cola’s 70th anniversary in Kenya, and 132nd anniversary globally.”
The firm’s top executives including Ahmed Rady, East and Central Africa, General Manager and Peter Njonjo, President, West Africa Business Unit cut a four-tier cake decorated in the company colours and shared it among its employees.
In Kenya, the beverage company began its operation in 1948. Currently it has three bottling partners – CCBA Kenya (Coca-Cola Beverages Africa), Almasi Beverages and Coastal Bottlers, that employ more than 10,000 people directly.
In a bid to keep its employees in touch with the ongoings of the company, Coca-Cola regularly holds town hall meetings in an informal setting.
At the meetings, the employees are appraised and informed on the brand’s direction including their strategies and emerging industry trends.
“It is the aspiration of every employer to have an engaged and motivated team. A key ingredient in nurturing such a team is having effective communication,” said Mr Waita-Macharia.
“One of the best ways to do this is through town hall meetings, in which all staff gets an opportunity to engage in two-way communication on topical issues. It also minimises the negative effects of the grapevine in the office environment and helps break the ice between people working in different departments.”
Besides, he said two-way communication between staff and leadership through forums enhances employee trust and commitment because issues raised are addressed or implemented. Therefore, employees feel valued and thei committment is felt by the customers.
This also increases staff retention and performance.
A study by Bellarmine University in the US, on the role of internal communication and the effect on employee engagement in a company, found that effective and timely communications through employee forums make staff happy and drive engagement.
Companies also benefit from evaluations of internal communication practices such as holding forums regularly with employees in an informal setting where they do not shy away from raising issues that are affecting their performance.
The researcher evaluated three internal-based practices on their effects on employee engagement for Kosair Children Hospital in the US.
The practices were employee forums held once a week, weekly newsletters that were sent out on Wednesdays, and a communication portal page where employees could post their issues.
For the forums, staff members interacted with senior staff and were encouraged to ask questions in a low threat environment and give feedback, a method for two-way conversations between employees and leadership.
“The hospital did not have a significant increase in mean engagement scores for the Wednesday weekly newsletters and the communication portal page. However there was a three per cent increase in the employee engagement during the forums as a result of the interactive and two-way communication between the staff and leadership, showing that employees felt satisfied during the sessions,” reported Bellarmine University.