Digital Communications Lead, Schnuck Markets Inc.
Can you talk a bit about your background and how you became Digital Communications Lead at Schnucks?
I actually started with a film degree, which led me into TV news in St. Louis. Web and digital was not what it is today so I dove headfirst into the digital side of things and was able to build it from the ground up. We developed mobile apps, with some being the first of their kind. Every day was different and fluid – you never knew what was going to happen or what you could be doing next.
From there, I went to Monsanto, which provided a global experience. I led the intranet management and worked to communicate company news with all employees. This was a unique time at Monsanto because it was during the time when they were being acquired by Bayer. Given the acquisition, I had a very strategic and important position – communicating the constant changes and updates, as well as encouraging a positive and engaged morale with all employees across the organization.
After a couple years, an opportunity opened up at Schnuck Markets, Inc. (Schnucks) where I started as the HR Communications Manager. They did not have an intranet in place yet, but they saw a need. With my digital communications and intranet experience, I was able to step into a lead role on the communications team and help build the intranet with LumApps at Schnucks from day one.
Role and Accomplishments
What excites you about your role and what you do?
Schnucks is an 81 year old family-owned supermarket chain. We have 113 stores, and 14,000+ employees, that we call “teammates.” The majority of our teammates work in the stores and do not spend their days in front of a computer. Before LumApps, teammates in the store didn’t receive the latest news to know what was going on within the organization. I love that now with LumApps, all teammates, whether they are in the office or in the store, on a phone or on a desktop, have access to our intranet – Schnucks Connection.
Yes, we share company news and policy updates on Schnucks Connection, but my favorite part is highlighting the teammates – the people. We recently just featured a 51-year work anniversary and it is so great to see everyone comment, like the post, and share their appreciation and congratulations. Teammates enjoy seeing themselves and their friends on Connection (as we call it) – this kind of content usually sees the most engagement.
Since moving to the intranet platform with LumApps, we are able to draw more attention to our content on Connection via our weekly emailed newsletter we call The Grapevine. But instead of producing it from scratch every time, we’re now using the LumApps newsletter tool. This has drastically streamlined and minimized email, and additionally, everyone can now see the content and interact with it.
We share work anniversaries and celebrate retirements, but because our communications team is not on the frontlines, it is not always easy to find the unique success stories. We’ve created a space in the intranet for teammates to submit their own stories, called “spotlights.” It opens our eyes and possibilities to the stories we would not have had visibility into otherwise, but that are so valuable and encouraging to share! Like I said, our teammates love seeing themselves and the success of their fellow teammates on display as well.
What is something you have accomplished in your current role that you are proud of?
We are always looking for new ways to increase engagement and ensure our teammates are connected and informed. For example, we teamed up with our IT department to set up chromebooks in each of the break rooms at our stores. Like before, teammates can access Connection with their phone or computer at home, but now they can also stay engaged and catch up on the latest news when they’re on a break at work.
Are there any unique or specific use cases you have within your intranet?
Three years ago, Schnucks built a culture task force called DE&I (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), which is actively involved in our organization’s leadership and business decisions. From under the DE&I umbrella, we’ve started Teammate Resource Groups for LGBTQ+ and allies called EQUAL, and we’re looking to launch groups for women, military veterans, and people of color.
DE&I has its own page on Connection and a dedicated team to support its activities. While we may have been more reactive on this front in the past, the team has really become proactive and taken the Resource Groups to another level. Everyone can access Connection and be involved with the company, but the Resource Groups create an even greater sense of belonging and purpose.
On a related topic:
How to Remain Connected to Remote Workers During a Crisis
In the Face of Disruption
Considering the recent impact of COVID-19, how have you seen this affect your work and life at Schnucks?
We have seen a huge impact since COVID-19. I have no idea how we would have communicated to everyone without our intranet.
When the spread of COVID-19 began, my team quickly put into place one hub and source of truth within Connection to host all the resources and important information around the pandemic. Our teammates are absolutely essential, so it is also essential that they stay informed and equipped to do their jobs safely while ensuring the safety of our valuable customers.
In addition to ensuring our teammates are informed and prepared, we also wanted to show our appreciation of them, so we collected several videos from well-known celebrities and people from the area, including St. Louis Blues and Cardinals players, Andy Cohen, and Jon Hamm. It was so encouraging and fun for our teammates to see these video messages on the intranet – a reminder of how important and valued they are.
“Schnucks Connection is our single source of truth – so our lines of communication are clean and our teammates are confident they are getting the resources and tools they need for their safety and well-being.”
Advice for Digital Communications Leaders
Based on your experience, can you share advice for other digital communications leaders?
I have two main pieces of advice…
- When I worked in the news industry, it was a very male-dominated space. At Schnucks, our team is women-led and I’m surrounded by strong, talented women. I feel fortunate we are given opportunities to present our work and what we are doing with leadership and all departments within the company. This isn’t always the case – sometimes we get put in a box. My advice for women in the workplace is to not be afraid to stand up and be heard.
- Especially when you are working with digital tools and technology, change can take time and be very challenging. Although it may come more naturally or easily for you, my advice is to always think about the people who are more resistant to change or unaware of how to do something new. Many of our teammates are not as immersed in the tech space as others, so I always do my best to communicate and write so anyone can understand and feel that they belong.
Want to connect with Sarah? Follow her on LinkedIn! And keep an eye out on the blog for our next customer spotlight!
Communication Manager EMEA
June 30, 2020