Seattle Children’s Hospital focuses stories on people, not programs

By cutting the number of stories and tightening the focus on employees, the health care organization sees a major boost in staff engagement on the intranet.

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Communicating to employees about a change in benefits can be a thankless task, and it’s often tough to get them to click on emails and intranet articles.

There’s one way, however, that Seattle Children’s Hospital drives interest in stories that employees often shrug off in many organizations: It makes every piece about people.

The use of individuals to communicate about issues is a major element of an effort in which the hospital produces fewer stories but increases the hits, says Alison Zurcher, Seattle Children’s interim director of research and internal communications.

Six or seven years ago, Seattle Children’s cut down the number of stories for its InHouse newsletter from five or six to two features a week, matching them to the organization’s stated values: collaboration, compassion, innovation, integrity, equity and excellence.

“We started mapping all of our feature articles to those six values,” Zurcher says.

The new-style pieces are longer, and they focus on Seattle Children’s employees and patients. The difference is clear from the metrics, as more employees are clicking through to the intranet, where the stories live.

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