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ANZ is one of the five largest listed companies in Australia by market capitalisation. Operating in more than 34 markets across Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Pacific, Europe, America and the Middle East, ANZ has 40,000+ employees and supports 10 million customers worldwide. Their purpose is to ‘shape a world where people and communities thrive’.

Business Need and Communication Opportunity

The banking industry is being drastically disrupted across the globe. Increased regulation, higher costs, technology and changing customer and community expectations is forcing transformation at banks such as ANZ. Findings from the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer showed trust in business remains under pressure – particularly Financial Services. It also confirmed stakeholders expect companies and their leaders to play a public role on issues outside business. ANZ understands that focusing on transparency and disclosure is crucial to building trust with customers. Being able to tell a balanced, authentic, holistic story and create alignment between organisational strategy, values and societal purpose with employees has been proven to have a positive influence on reputation.

As a result, the communication environment is also changing and led to ANZ reimagining the role of communication in engaging its employees, driving cultural change and building advocacy. In 2017 ANZ introduced a communications program, ‘The ANZ Way’ to help employees better understand the bank’s strategy, purpose, values, new ways of working and brand proposition. A key component of this program was the introduction of an eight-episode podcast series focused on informing this deeper understanding and ensuring authenticity by featuring largely unedited and unscripted conversations with senior executives from across ANZ including CEO, Shayne Elliott.

Communication Objectives

The overarching goal of the podcast series was to create an innovative, relevant and engaging method to reach ANZ employees in a time and place that suited them while helping to build greater transparency and improve understanding of ANZ’s strategy.

Key objectives were aligned with the broader ANZ Way program and were focused on:

  • 10 percentage point increase in our people noticing a change in the way we are communicating
  • 10 percentage point increase in employee perception of open, honest, two-way communication
  • 5-10 percentage point increase in understanding of our purpose, strategy, values and new ways of working

ANZ also aimed to achieve 3,000 downloads per episode or 24,000 in total across the series (nine months).

The Communication Solution

The ANZ Corporate Communication team’s solution to build understanding of ANZ’s strategy, purpose, values, brand proposition and new ways of working – and devise an innovative approach to communicating allowing cut through – was a podcast series that built on each theme and was brought to life through authentic conversations with senior leaders.

Research: The approach was driven by qualitative and quantitative research, starting with focus groups to help understand employee communication preferences and appetite for new methods of communicating. Benchmarking research was also undertaken to assess employee understanding of key components of ANZ’s strategy, purpose, values, and new ways of working before work was undertaken. This research was repeated over time to monitor shifts.

Authenticity: Guidelines were developed to ensure conversations went largely unedited and were unscripted, the interviewer was an experienced and independent journalist who had free reign to ask difficult, and at times uncomfortable questions to ensure we were constantly challenging ourselves as an organisation. Other considerations included ensuring a blend of voices with regard to age, gender, background and areas of expertise.

Content strategy and messaging: Focused on each of the key themes of The ANZ Way starting with an initial conversation with CEO, Shayne Elliott and journalist Sally Warhaft talking about ANZ’s purpose, overarching strategy and the transformation of the bank. This was followed by episodes on ANZ’s refreshed organisation values, the introduction of agile (new ways of working), the digital strategy, the bank’s new brand platform, as well as an episode on the bank’s strategy around ‘what we care about most’ including a dedicated episode on financial wellbeing.

Executive support: A critical first step was obtaining the support of the CEO, Shayne Elliott as he would be the main voice of the series. While the first episode featured Shayne, planning was underway for the series prior to the initial launch and support from his senior team was critical. A series of stakeholder meetings took place with key senior ANZ executives to generate interest, excitement and buy-in. Shayne shared the podcast widely on social media. He encouraged his leadership to listen to the podcast at his biannual Extended Leadership meeting.

Advocacy: ANZ’s Social Insider network is a group of social media savvy individuals who are actively engaged on social media and are strong advocates for ANZ-related content. This group was provided with pre-launch access to the content. All members were encouraged to share and engage with the content when live via LinkedIn Elevate.

Launch: Episode 1 was launched as part of the official launch of The ANZ Way. A voicemail message was recorded by Shayne and deployed to all employee desk phones globally to introduce The ANZ Way and encourage people to listen to the podcast. Earphones were distributed to allow employees to listen to the podcast freely at their desks. A listening booth was also set up in the foyer of ANZ’s head office for employees to sit and have a listen. A conversation guide was developed to encourage frontline employees to listen to the podcast and discuss key themes from it. Employees were also encouraged to share their thoughts in the relevant online community on ANZ’s enterprise social network.

Ongoing communication: A regular email was distributed for each podcast encouraging people to download the episode and providing instructions on how to do so. A page was developed on ANZ’s intranet as a central place for employees to access the podcast series which was done so via Soundcloud and iTunes. To assist with accessibility for employees, transcripts of each episode, able to be read by screen readers were also made available. A series of intranet homepage stories were developed when each podcast was released. Articles on the content featured also ran individually in ANZ’s online publication bluenotes.

































The Result

There were eight episodes in the series and they exceeded expectations, achieving more than 30,000 downloads and having a positive impact on employees understanding of the organisation’s direction. Making what would traditionally have been ‘internal’ communication available for public audiences enhanced the perception of transparency and honest communication among ANZ’s people. The podcasts also generated positive interest among the media on key strategic topics including new ways of working, with prominent articles featured in national media.