How Expedia engages employees worldwide

The online travel company aims to connect with employees through their hearts and their heads with activities that bring them together and with a candid give-and-take with executives.

It’s up to communicators to reinforce that overarching culture as well as its subcultures, Mark Schmitt, senior communications manager for employee programs at Expedia, told an audience at Ragan Communications’ Employee Communications, PR, and Social Media Summit at Microsoft Headquarters.

“When you connect with employees on a heart level instead of just a head level, then you can drive innovation,” he said.

Expedia does that by creating a culture of openness, in which executives use multiple avenues to communicate with employees, and bringing employees together into a community with companywide initiatives.

Defining culture

Companies have to avoid cultural disconnects—Schmitt cited Harley-Davidson’s attempts to sell colorful scooters in the early 1960s as a prime example—but first, each has to figure out what its particular culture is.

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