Webinar Recap: Emphasizing Human Culture Amidst Digital Transformation

In our professional lives, we constantly confront tradeoffs between apparent “nice to haves” and “need to haves.” For example, it’s nice to have a kitchen with gluten free snacks in the office, but we need a functioning monitor and keyboard to perform our job.

As more companies undertake digital transformations, whether for purposes of agility and efficiency, or by necessity as a result of the pandemic, workplace culture is often miscategorized as a ‘nice to have.’

Meanwhile, a healthy culture is more important than ever to employees struggling to accommodate the volume and pace of change (especially in remote work environments.)

Integral convened two of the brightest minds with experience in digital transformation and communications to discuss the rituals, priorities and behaviors changes that leaders can implement to ensure all employers foster a positive culture and community amidst digital transformation. 

In an environment as dynamic as the present, culture is the new “need to have.”

Below are some of our favorite takeaways and quotes from our two panelists, Tiffin Jernstedt, Communications Consultant, and Yana Krasnitskaya, Afterburner Communications & Enablement Lead, IBM Performance Marketing, and our CEO Ethan McCarty, from our recent webinar with Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies.

Ethan McCarty (top left), Tiffin Jernstedt (top right), Yana Krasnitskaya (bottom)

  1. Listen to your employees the same way you listen to your clients. “Whenever people want to share information internally I ask, ‘Well who is your audience?’ Because if you’re not listening to what they want and how they prefer to consume information, it’s like putting information out into the intranet and no one listening. Like the metaphor of the tree falling and no one being around to listen,” said Yana about the listening/focus groups her IBM communications team has implemented for Project Afterburner.

“It’s not about the tools, it’s about empowering your clients, your audience and your employees to be prepared in advance leading up to the change… everyone consumes information differently, you have Marketers at IBM doing different jobs with different business goals, not everyone needs to hear the same CTA (Call to Action). They need to hear pieces of it that apply to them specifically.”

  1. With new platforms comes new responsibilities. “With a new mobile app, we were able to do an employee advocacy program [for PVH], but part of the challenge was teaching employees how to use it. You have people of all different ages and backgrounds. Everyone has a learning curve,” said Tiffin about onboarding droves of employees across many brands into one employee userface. 

“We were able to do an amazing employee advocacy program … to get the message out there about who we are as a company and how all of our brands come together to drive fashion forward.”

  1. Transformations and culture change require leaders committed to the cause. “One of the reasons the Adobe transformation has been so successful is that we have a lot of strong leaders who are willing to put themselves in the thick of it. They come on our podcasts, they write blogs with us, and they come to town halls and discuss why the transformation is important and why people should pay attention, “ said Yana.

“To me, culture needs a voice or a few voices to rally behind. It’s worked because we’ve evolved with the times. For Tiffin, it was the mobile app, for us it’s been the ongoing drumbeat. We set that up with a strong communication plan that Integral worked with us on, but it was really important for us to commit and say, ‘Once a week, we’re going to put our voice out there, experiment, and if we fail, we fail,’ but it’s worked out really well so far.”

  1. Internal communications teams should take a page from the PR playbook. “You have to constantly check in with your employees — no different than your check in with your customers. My journey was going from true public relations where my focus was to engage the press to tell a brand story, to now learning HR and how powerful the employee voice is. The employee culture from a brand perspective is a huge part of your overall messaging,“ said Tiffin.

“A lot of companies still are so focused on press, that they’re not taking into consideration that they’re sitting on a huge opportunity to engage and highlight their own people which only reinforces what the overall mission for that company is.”

About the Speakers:

Tiffin Jernstedt, Communications Consultant

Tiffin Jernstedt is a communications strategist with 15+ years of experience leading communications for global fashion and lifestyle brands. She is currently a consultant advising brands on communications strategies and tactics.

Previously, she was Senior Vice President, Global Communications of PVH Corp., a role she held from 2013-2020. In this role, she created the first Corporate Communications function and led a team of 30 across all communications disciplines. Her work shaped the culture at one of the largest global apparel companies in the world, and her global team built PVH’s corporate brand and amplified its reputation. She oversaw a team responsible for a wide range of communications disciplines, including Corporate Branding, Storytelling, Executive, Public Relations, Internal, Employee Engagement, Crisis, Social Media and Archive Management.

A dynamic, results-driven and strategic executive, Tiffin has extensive experience in corporate, internal and marketing communications for global fashion and lifestyle companies. She has a consistent track record leading high-performance teams with an innovative approach.

Previously, she served as SVP, Global Communications for Tommy Hilfiger and held PR positions at Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. Tiffin is a passionate leader, connector and mentor within the communications profession.

Yana Krasnitskaya, Afterburner Communications & Enablement Lead, IBM Performance Marketing

As a Communications & Enablement Strategist at IBM, Yana is currently overseeing the communications and training for one of IBM Marketing’s largest transformations. Her primary focus is on activating employees and driving cultural change that will inspire Marketers and endure past the technology implementations.

Previously, Yana helped build IBM’s first ever Client Advocacy program, which was externally recognized in 2018 and 2019 and established IBM as a leader in client experience management. Her passion for storytelling and building relationships comes from her past experience in social work and public policy.

Along with a BA in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley, Yana holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She has spent the last ten years on the East Coast convincing everyone she’s a New Yorker despite being a California girl at heart.

Ethan McCarty, CEO Integral

Ethan is the founder and CEO of Integral, an employee activation agency serving leaders of Communications, HR, Marketing and Technology at organizations global and local alike. Formerly the global head of Employee and Innovation Communications for Bloomberg LP and Global Director of Social Strategy for IBM, Ethan has more than 20 years of experience leading digital communications, engagement and marketing initiatives at scale. He is a lecturer at Columbia University on Employee Activation and Digital Media & Analytics.

Want help managing your culture amid digital transformation? Fill out this form and an Integral communications leader will reach out to set up a chat!

    Mary Grace Scully
    Associate Client Manager
    Mary Grace is a communications and content enthusiast who thrives off of developing authentic relationships with teammates and clients.
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