Internal communication, corporate culture, great atmosphere: this was the first Connect Conference

Three months: that's all it took from idea to implementation, and the result was the Connect Conference at Symbol in Budapest, with more than 50 excellent speakers and 304 guests. The unique conference was organised by Blue Colibri, with professional partners such as Positive Adamsky, VALUETEAM and Trenkwalder

Connect App instead of discarded papers

In order to minimize paper waste, guests were able to receive important information such as registration, parking and dress code before the event started via the Connect App, which they could download on their phones.

During the conference, the Connect App also allowed participants to interact with each other and the speakers via the contact list and chat functions. In addition, introductory texts and a range of downloadable content such as thematic e-books and checklists were also provided through the interface to complement the presentations. The Connect App will also provide valuable material after the event: recordings of the presentations will be available on this platform.

Well-known topics, new approaches

Perhaps never before has corporate communication evolved as dynamically as it has over the past two years. The need to respond to the pandemic has accelerated things considerably, so that we now have a number of new channels and tools at our disposal - even though many of them have been with us for years, decades.

But the role and position of internal communication can vary radically from company to company. At some places HR takes care of internal communication, sometimes it's a marketing task and some companies utilize their PR team, but it certainly has an impact on everything. Cross-functional collaboration between HR, communications and marketing is a fundamental principle. Within that, everyone needs to find the issues they want to build on and the tools to make it most successful.

"We were curious to see if we could bring together marketing communications and HR professionals in one place," said Tamás Barathi, our CEO and co-founder, in his opening speech. According to the number of hands raised, it was a clear success: to our great delight, professionals from both sides were represented, as well as company executives. No wonder, out of 345 registrants, 304 guests turned up, exceeding all expectations, with 53 speakers sharing their experiences and good practices with the audience.

The conference was structured around four main themes: channel, content, engagement and culture, and the speakers included companies such as Danubius Zrt, Egis Zrt, Foodpanda, Yettel Magyarország Zrt, Magyar Telekom, Erste Bank and Raiffeisen Bank.

Channel: establishing effective communication channels

Appropriate communication and channels tailored to employee needs can build efficiency and awareness, create engagement, and have an impact on building and shaping the employer brand. But which channel is best for whom is by no means set in stone.

Effective corporate communication channels
Effective corporate communication channels
60% of companies do not have a long-term strategy for using an internal communication platform. Only 13% of employees use an intranet on a daily basis, while 74% of employees feel they are missing out on internal company information

- emphasized József Nógrádi (Commercial Director - Trenkwalder Recruitment Ltd.) in his presentation "Rethinking corporate communication aka there is always another option".

For many companies, reaching non-desk workers is a particular challenge: the inclusion of mobile phones in communication can provide a solution. In this way, physical employees can be reached immediately even without a company laptop and e-mail account: this was the subject of a presentation called "Your own mobile is an excellent alternative - communication, administration, training with non-desk workers". Based on the experiences gained, there is no reason to fear that non-desk or older workers might be more difficult to get to use a mobile application: according to Anikó Andorka (Head of Transformation Department - Hunland Group Holding Ltd.), even with higher turnover, they have an 80% reach, while Lídia Blaskovics (Communication Specialist - Güntner-Tata Ltd.) emphasised that older colleagues are also happy to use the app. 

Similar successes were also reported by the speakers of the panel "Not only can they build, they can communicate too - how construction companies are digitizing internal communication". Colas Hungária Zrt., for example, boasts a 99% download rate and high activity, thanks to the payroll integration and cafeteria payments introduced on the app. MERKBAU Zrt. has boosted its download rate with promotions, campaigns and popular content.

And once the download is done and employees have the right internal communication app in their pockets, it's a piece of cake to get the most important information to colleagues no matter where they are - just take a look at the example of Danubius Hotels, which we've written about before.

"A good communication channel alone is not enough. It requires a high level of commitment from both management and employees. We need to map the needs of employees and integrate into the communication process the content they want to see and the reason they would use the channels. Managers need to take an active role in both usage and content production."

- said Tamás Barathi (Managing Director - Blue Colibri), the main organizer of Connect.

Content: secrets of the best content

In 2022, content is still above all: but it does matter what that content exactly is. Depending on the communication objectives, there are many content solutions to choose from. In the CONTENT section, we've got more on these, whether it's employer branding experiences or tips for a well-structured onboarding process.

Connect Conference panel discussion
"We tell stories for many reasons - to sell, to entertain, to educate or to boast. But how can our clients use all this to create a USP for themselves? Capturing people's emotions, revealing the good and the bad is how stories inspire and motivate... and ultimately move you to action. Stories foster brand loyalty, strengthen employer branding. By creating a narrative around a brand or product, we not only humanise it, but also inherently want to become part of it. So Storytelling sells"

- summarized Ádám Vaszary (Managing Partner - Positive Adamsky), who could not attend the conference (for a very good reason - congratulations on the birth of his son!). 

The KÉSZ Hexatlon campaign is an excellent example of well-constructed content: the campaign, which has won numerous awards and first places, was described in detail by Tibor Metykó, Marketing and Corporate Communications Director of the KÉSZ Group. The aim of the Hexatlon was to create a recruitment campaign for civil engineers, aimed at reaching a larger audience. In addition to finding new employees, the secondary goal was to shift the general image of the construction industry in a positive direction and to reach out to a student demographic - and the results show that KÉSZ was successful, both in terms of employer branding and branding.

Good content does not only help companies to find new candidates: it is equally important that once the ideal new colleague is found, the right onboarding processes are in place to help them to join the company and stay for the long term. 

Katalin Csikós-Nagy, the owner of HR-Evolution Kft. and an expert in fluctuation management, has been conducting fluctuation surveys and research for years, both from the management and employee side. In analysing these, she has found a number of data that provide exciting conclusions on the role of onboarding processes:

  • employers say that on average 21-24% of new colleagues leave during their probationary period,
  • 48% of new entrants decide to stay within 45 days,
  • while 25% of new hires have a negative experience regarding humane treatment within their first 5 working days, that may lead them to decide to leave.

So there is no question that a company that puts a strong emphasis on onboarding and preboarding can be several steps ahead of its competitors.

Engagement: improving well-being and engagement at work

Beyond finding the right candidate, there is a long way to go before our colleagues not only choose us, but want to stay for the long term as well. By treating people with humanity, turnover can be drastically reduced, while retention can be increased in a number of creative ways.

"The conference will address, among other things, one of the most important HR issues of the coming years: the home office is only one aspect of the freedom of the new ways of working, but rather a cultural issue, which is also an integral part of the workplace not being authoritarian and managers not feeling that the employer is doing the employee a favour by having a job"

- Attila Semperger (Founder/Owner - VALUETEAM) 

Presentation on workplace engagement

"Sustainable companies start with emotional and psychological safety: the future belongs to emotionally sustainable workplaces" 

- was the topic of the presentation "Emotions at work - scary or liberating?", held by VALUETEAM's organizational development trainers Anna Fodor-Maksai and Zsuzsanna Steigerwald. Attitudes to work have changed significantly in recent years: in 2021, 47 million Americans quit their jobs and 64% of workers would rather quit than return to the office full time. So staying in the workplace will increasingly depend on emotional security and how we want to live our lives - for example, in greater comfort in a home office. 

Zsolt Láng (Group Head of People Op. - Coca-Cola HBC) gave concrete examples in his presentation "How Big Data can help in the retention and development of sales representatives": a survey was conducted to find out why employees leave or stay with the company. In the case of leaving, he highlighted the following reasons:

  • the work is too complex or difficult
  • the objectives are not motivating enough
  • work is not supported by management
"Employees can be engaged through issues, freedom, partnership and fairness. Engagement is not a generational issue. We want to live, we want to be at home with our children, we want to attend Father's Day at the nursery - it's a human question because we want to be human. More and more we want to be human."

- emphasized Attila Semperger (Founder/Owner - VALUETEAM) in his opening speech. 

Culture: shaping corporate culture 

The beauty of corporate culture is that it means something different for every company. But everyone can learn something valuable from different solutions, case studies, and creative culture shaping methods: that's what conference guests heard about in the CULTURE section.

"The issue of organizational culture and engagement has been on the front burner for decades, perhaps almost to the point of becoming a grey area. But in the light of the changes of recent years, it has come into sharper focus again, more than ever. Our relationship to work is changing, the role of work in our lives is changing, and the need for self-identity is growing. [...] We hope that conference guests will leave with the message that being real, human, and approachable in the workplace is an important value"

- Zsuzsanna Steigerwald (Organizational Development, Trainer - VALUETEAM).

Presentation on shaping corporate culture

Start-ups in the domestic market have the opportunity to build their company's values from scratch.  But does this freedom give you wings or dilemmas? In "Our brand. Our culture. - Building the culture of Hungarian start-up companies on the international stage" was a presentation on this topic by expert speakers, including Viktória Fulai-Takács, CEO of Blue Colibri.

Blue Colibri, being a young company, does not have a deep-rooted corporate culture going back many years. In return, there is no need to adapt to anything: there is a desired framework, but it is up to the employees to develop the company culture through their daily work, their cooperation, and their extra-work activities. Of course, in a large company or group of companies this may be quite different.

From a college business to a market leader in Hungary, from red Netpincér to brightly coloured foodpanda: Csilla Váradi (HR Director - Delivery Hero Hungary Kft. / foodpanda) told about the rebranding, growth, and consciously prepared culture change that took place before everyone's eyes in her presentation "From SME to international multi startup". The process presented in detail could serve as a good practice for all guests involved. 

"You cannot operate in an ever-changing environment with plans that are rigid. In such circumstances, you have to forget about the annual business plan." 

- Csilla noted.

Connect Awards: the icing on the cake

At the end of the excellent presentations, the Connect Conference was crowned by the Connect Awards ceremony: professional awards were presented to over 65 applicants in recognition of the most innovative internal communication and HR solutions. The Connect Awards were open to Blue Colibri partners in four categories: four category awards, three special awards and three Blue Colibri Best Performer special awards were presented.

Connect Awards trophies

Connect Strategy Award

  • Winner: Hunland Group Holding Kft.
  • Special prize winner: Trans-Sped Kft.

Connect Game Changer Award

  • Winner: Güntner-Tata Kft.
  • Special prize winner: Tiszamenti Regionális Vízművek Zrt. 

Connect Engagement Award 

  • Winner: Plazmaszolgálat Kft.
  • Special prize winner: MERKBAU Zrt.

Connect Education Award

  • Winner: RUAG Ammotec Magyarországi Zrt.

+1: Connect Blue Colibri Best Performer Award

  • > 200 employees: PremiumXL
  • 200-1000 employees: Trenkwalder Group
  • < 1000 employees: Colas Hungária Zrt., Samsung Electronics Magyar Zrt

You can read more about the Connect Awards categories and the winning entries in our summary of the awards ceremony.

Connect Conference 2023

And what are the plans for the future?

Based on the enthusiastic feedback and positive opinions, it is clear: Connect Conference will be held again in 2023, hopefully in an even more improved format.

And after a summer break, our workshop and webinar series will return in the autumn with renewed vigor - in the meantime, we wish you all a great time to relax, unwind and recharge your batteries!