Internal Communications

Sappi South Africa Sappi Employee share scheme

Simplifying Simplifying

In 2010 Sappi launched Sefate, their employee share scheme. In 2019 the share scheme vested and icandi CQ was appointed to develop a communication strategy and implement an eight-month educational campaign leading up to this, to ensure all staff (from office-based staff to workers in the manufacturing plant and forestry) understood the process and to address any concerns or confusion.


Leveraging the power of storytelling

As some of the staff are semi-literate or not English speaking, our approach was to develop a relatable cast of characters that you may find working at Sappi, and to use these characters to narrate and journey with staff through the process by explaining concepts in an easy to understand, visual and fun way. What’s more these characters spoke in local vernac (Zulu and Swati) ensuring that employees could better connect with the story and characters while consuming important information in their home language.


From concept to delivery

As part of the communication strategy we developed a phased message plan and content calendar to ensure delivery of a lot of information in bite-size chunks. This included giving staff context (big picture), explaining the process, providing financial fitness tips, the requirements from staff and what to expect (managing staff expectations).

A key channel was our HR champions in each of the locations, managers and leaders who assisted in cascading the communication. We got them onboard before the campaign went live and provided toolkits and infographics to aid them in their conversations with staff.

A bi-monthly comic book was distributed with the staff newsletter. Here our characters were used to deliver messages through stories. For office-based staff, videos played onscreen and through email communication.

A WhatsApp broadcast group was set  where we shared short-format communication (animation, GIFs, image posts), delivered by our characters. Staff could send questions via WhatsApp and were replied to directly on WhatsApp. These questions also informed content in the comic book and other communication like FAQs.

Overall staff responded positively to the communication methods. Feedback revealed that they loved the stories and the fact that they received communication in their own language. They also appreciated that two-way communication was encouraged and that their questions were answered.