Ford Motor Company, SMS Assist, and Aflac nab top honors in Ragan’s Employee Communications Awards

Along with the many other winners of Ragan’s 2021 Employee Communications Awards, these companies represent the very best in employee engagement and internal comms.

At a time when employee communications has never been more important, many practitioners rose to the occasion during the past year of crisis.

Communicators were tasked with helping teams transition to remote work overnight—all while providing constant updates and messages around COVID-19, coordinating responses to social upheaval, and helping maintain business continuity with an increasingly dispersed workforce. Communicators have reported working harder this year than at any other time in their careers.

Among the many heroic efforts of our communications colleagues from the past year, some stand above the rest. Ragan has recognized these organizations in its Employee Communications Awards Class of 2021.

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company’s communications team worked to help its 187,000 global employees navigate the COVID-19 crisis, transitioning workers to remote connections and helping to establish a new CEO—all while relaunching two iconic vehicles: the Ford-150 and Ford Bronco. Messages were well-received by employees, with 87% of workers reporting the COVID-related messages were helpful and 77% saying they were satisfied about information received from top leaders about the state of the business.

The team also increased use of its internal app, Blue Oval Now, from 23,000 to 44,000 users in North America and 54,000 global users.

For its work, the team of 12 internal communicators is recognized as Ragan’s Employee Communications Team of the Year honoree for 2021.


During COVID-19, it became clear to insurance firm Aflac that something new was needed for its annual report on corporate social responsibility. The company prides itself on its commitment to purpose, ethics and giving back to the community, and the organization saw 2020 as an opportunity to morph the launch of its report into a virtual event, both highlighting CSR achievements and engaging a newly remote workforce.

The team built an editorial plan that included intranet and employee comms, a video series about Aflac’s “CSR heroes,” executive comms, a virtual launch event, social media and more. More than 700 employees attended the live event, besting the team’s goal of 500 attendees.

For its work, the Aflac team is recognized as Ragan’s Employee Communications Campaign of the Year honoree for 2021.

SMS Assist

In 2019, the SMS Assist comms team was tasked with launching a new intranet to replace the underwhelming handful of photos and web pages built in 2015 on Sharepoint Classic. The goal was to create a hub where employees could find the latest company info, build community within the company, and update the intranet to report analytics to show the performance of internal content.

The SMS Assist team performed a full audit of the current intranet, completed research on current users and employee needs, and consulted experts on best practices to launch the new intranet. The new resource had a completely new navigation, with 42 site pages, a company calendar, a media gallery and other features.

The first day of the launch, the new intranet received 8,000 hits, a current record for the hub, and the team completed all its objectives with a budget of $0.

For its hard work, the SMS Assist team is recognized as Ragan’s Employee Communications Awards honoree for Intranet of the Year.

More honorees and honorable mentions

There are many other award-winning companies in our 2021 Class of Employee Communications Awards winners.

Honorees include J.J. Keller & Associates, Madela, Speakap, Baker Hughes, Weber Shandwick and Mars, Philip Morris International, UMass Memorial Healthcare, Astellas, American Heart Association, Booz Allen Hamilton, The Kroger Co., Canadian Tire Corporation, Marathon Strategies, Southern Company Gas and many more.

Congratulations to all the winners and the honorable mentions. Learn more about Ragan’s Employee Communications Awards Class of 2021.

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