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Staffordshire University’s Internal Comms Graduated Top-of-Class with Workvivo

Putting Workvivo at the heart of the digital transformation journey


Percentage of staff registered on Workvivo


Percentage of staff who access Workvivo per month


Percentage of reduction in all-staff emails

Leading university for digital technologies

Internal communications and employee engagement can be hard to get right in any industry, but they can be particularly challenging in a university setting.

Universities typically employ thousands of diverse people and their employees are spread across different demographics, campuses, and departments. Someone that teaches organic chemistry, for example, may never cross paths with someone based in the alumni office or working as a security guard.

However, in today’s world, connection is one of the most important building blocks for company culture.

Staffordshire University, also known as The Connected University, employs 1,700 people in the UK. As a leading university for digital technologies, seeking new and innovative ways to connect staff was a natural next step in Staffordshire’s journey.

That’s why it chose Workvivo.




Higher Education





Staffordshire University before Workvivo

As a progressive university, Staffordshire knew that to level up its employee experience and engagement, it needed to embrace a contemporary approach. One of its priorities was to move away from top-down communications, an outdated model that creates conversation siloes and can damage employee motivation.

Instead, Staffordshire wanted its workers to be engaged and actively involved in sharing information. [Embracing open communication] ( would pave the way for two-way conversations at the university, better connecting its employees at every level and boosting their engagement.

When Staffordshire was looking for a solution, Visiting Professor Andrew Proctor was the university’s Head of Digital Services. He said: “We had so many different disparate channels where people could receive updates and information and communicate with each other. There was a lot of fragmentation in what we were doing and we wanted to consolidate it into one channel.”

Back then, management meetings were information-heavy and failed to show the impact of what employees were doing. There was no room for peer-to-peer dialogue and recognition.

So they changed things up; instead, team members would draw on user stories to demonstrate the user value and impact of their work, helping everyone understand the overall meaning and purpose of their projects.

Staffordshire told us this was “absolutely something we wanted Workvivo to help us amplify”.


Embracing a more open way of communicating has been transformative for our employee engagement.

Judy O'Brien

Internal Communications Manager at Staffordshire

Why Workvivo?

With open comms and prioritizing impact in mind, the team at Staffordshire saw Workvivo as their natural next step.

The university became one of Workvivo’s first customers and its very first higher education institution partner.

What did Staffordshire need from its employee experience platform?


Staffordshire was looking for an app-based solution that would be intuitive for its employees – one that made it easy to log in and start posting and engaging right away. It also wanted employees to see its new app as a corporate tool strengthening social connection rather than a social sharing platform like Facebook.

For typically traditional environments like universities, moving to a social intranet can be a leap of faith. Staffordshire knew that with the changing expectations of modern employees and younger generations joining the workforce, leveling up its internal comms was critical.


Recognition was another priority. Staffordshire wanted to give its staff the opportunity to link their daily activities with an overarching company goal, which would make it much easier for them to showcase their work and receive kudos in response.

Instilling that sense of being valued and cross-team recognition would build stronger, more meaningful connections between employees.


Staffordshire’s leadership team wanted employees to really own the space and make it theirs, and equally, staff members wanted to be connected to leadership in more accessible and meaningful ways.

Launching Workvivo

The first part of achieving high employee adoption meant telling people about the app. The university ran an internal comms campaign explaining why it was launching an employee app, with particular emphasis on what it would mean for employee engagement. Efforts were led by Judy O’Brien, Internal Communications Manager at Staffordshire.

Staffordshire announced to employees that something exciting was coming, and after building momentum it launched Workvivo on what leadership called ‘Appy Friday’.

Nominated ambassadors took the time to visit all of the institution’s offices to help people download the app and make sure they were happy with it. This meant that staff could start engaging via Workvivo from the outset.

Being frontline-friendly was a crucial box that Staffordshire needed its employee experience and internal comms app to tick. Among the university’s diverse departments are plenty of people on the ground – facilities, security, cleaning staff, academics, and more – who don’t have access to a work computer. Going mobile was a must.

Overall, Staffordshire was looking for a solution that would seamlessly integrate all the best parts of a corporate tool with a familiar social and connection component.

Setting Staffordshire up for success

With so many moving parts in a university, implementing an employee experience app takes careful planning and consideration. What did Staffordshire do to set itself up for success?

The Communications, Digital Services, and HR teams worked in partnership to set up the Workvivo system for its staff. Digital Services and HR ensured that staff details were up to date in Active Directory – from job titles to departments and locations. The team wanted to drive efficiency and move away from hard-to-maintain and ineffective email distribution lists. Having team info for each staff member would allow audience segmentation and ensure better landing of messages. In time, Workvivo would fully replace all staff emails.

Pre-scheduling a bank of content before launching the platform to staff was an easy win. It meant that Staffordshire could build excitement in the lead-up to their launch without having to worry about the day itself being anti-climactic. As soon as employees logged on for the first time, they were met with all sorts of content showing them the different ways they could engage with the app.

Prior to launching, Staffordshire also chose a number of team members to act as Workvivo ambassadors. These were points of contact for people in the early stages of the roll-out and were also able to create useful resources, such as videos on how to use the platform. Combined with Workvivo’s own support materials, employee engagement with the app was off to a strong start.

Maintaining Engagement post-launch

When launch day had finally come and gone, it was important for Judy and the team to keep the momentum going. Staff were encouraged to get involved in a number of ways; they were invited to take part in competitions, for example, and to comment on and engage with posts.

Early employee engagement campaigns Staffordshire ran using Workvivo included asking people to share their favorite quotes from books for World Book Day, and hosting a day of shout-outs between colleagues on how to improve their lifestyles.

In 2020, there were 765 individual and team shout-outs and 1,296 updates from across the organization.

All of this meant that Staffordshire achieved its goal of building lots of connections on Workvivo as early as possible. It also helped the university get the right balance between making important information easy to find and peer-to-peer shout-outs.

Today, 62% of staff access Workvivo each week, and 76% return every month.

Staffordshire after Workvivo

Judy says, “Embracing a more open way of communicating has been transformative for our employee engagement. Employees now have a voice and are encouraged to use it to ask questions and to tell leadership not only what they need, but also what they want.

“There’s a sense of staff leading the culture instead of just coming along for the ride; the workers themselves are shaping it and owning it.”

Speaking about his own experience, Andrew said, “Workvivo is in the top five apps I use every day. It’s one of the key ways that I – as a leader and a member of a big community in the university – can keep track of everything that’s going on.

“And that’s incredibly important, especially as we’re more distant from each other physically than before. It just maintains that awareness of all the things that people are doing.”

Putting in the groundwork before launching Workvivo meant that when the pandemic hit, employee satisfaction with internal comms went up instead of down. 74% of employees reported feeling satisfied with their internal comms updates about COVID and 78% found shout-outs incredibly beneficial in boosting team morale.

Areas Workvivo has helped improve

Employees at Staffordshire are better connected than ever before.

  • People link in with each other about topics like mental health and sustainability, and colleagues give each other shout-outs. They can give their coworkers a sense of who they really are behind their job title. All of this has led to more meaningful conversations, strengthening employee bonds and cultivating a sense of belonging.
  • Finding the right person for the job through org charts and structures on Workvivo means less time is wasted on searching, and employees can put faces to names.
  • Corporate communication is easier too; for example, Digital Services can be alerted to internet issues through the platform.
  • “Workvivo was a godsend when we moved to remote working”; since everyone already had Workvivo, formal updates were made easy and efficient during unprecedented workplace changes.
  • Peer-to-peer recognition is stronger than ever and there is more trust and transparency between team members; they have the confidence to be their authentic selves and regularly engage.
  • Today, all internal communications at Staffordshire go through Workvivo. When it launched, Judy and the team discouraged faculty from sending emails to all staff anymore. Instead, they showed their colleagues the benefits of streamlining comms by choosing the best Workvivo channel for the message in hand, such as parking and permit updates, sports fixture announcements, and upcoming events.

The Connected University

Partnering with Workvivo has seen Staffordshire transform its internal communications and how it inspires its people to bring their best selves to work.

The app helps Staffordshire champion its values as The Connected University every day, delivering on its promise to connect its students and staff with each other, with business, and with exciting career opportunities.

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