Awards case study: Find out who won for best employee engagement programme

Find out how DNV GL used the four C’s – care, customer, cash and cost to nab the win for best employee engagement programme. 

About the client company/agency 

DNV GL is the independent expert in risk management and quality assurance, operating in more than 100 countries. The Oil & Gas business area is the technical advisor to the sector, comprising 2,000 experts worldwide. 


COVID-19 suddenly wiped 60% off the price of oil in March 2020. DNV GL’s oil and gas customers slashed budgets. Salary reductions came into force. DNV GL feared the worst. This isn’t the first time DNV GL has experienced a market crisis. When the oil price plunged in December 2014, its Oil & Gas business contracted sharply. Employee engagement dropped.

In anticipation of an even worse situation this time, DNV GL saw the urgent need to manage employee engagement as the key to quickly boosting sales efforts and cutting costs. This time around, DNV GL had a new weapon in its arsenal: its Peakon employee engagement platform could tell them what employees were actually thinking and feeling, not what DNV GL thought they might be thinking and feeling. This was the basis for a completely new approach to steering employee engagement.

Objectives of the campaign 

  1. Spark quick action to curb costs and boost sales efforts 
  2. Use real-time engagement data to adapt its change communications to reflect the way employees are thinking and feeling over time 
  3. Help employees to get through the ‘denial’, ‘frustration’ ‘depression’ stages of coping with change quickly so that DNV GL can motivate them again.

The target audience 

This programme addressed an audience of 1,936 employees in 40 countries; most of them engineers and technical consultants who recently shifted to home working. Its top 100 managers were engaged specifically to cascade DNV GL’s vision for returning to growth.

Media, channels or techniques used

Step 1:

Addressing employees in denial. First up, DNV GL used its new employee engagement platform, Peakon, to find out where employees’ heads were at and collect questions about the challenges they faced and its leaders’ management of the situation. This revealed that many colleagues didn’t realise the extent of the crisis DNV GL faced: a classic symptom of the ‘denial’ phase of the Change Curve. To combat this challenge, DNV GL sets about creating a common understanding of what’s happened in the market, why it happened and the measures that the business has taken to handle the crisis. DNV GL adapted this message to fit local contexts for leaders to use with its teams. The messaging included an easy-to-recall set of calls to action, repeated through the communications programme:

  • Care

    : Look after yourself, loved ones and colleagues, in line with DNV GL’s corporate values. 

  • Customers

    : It is more necessary than ever to listen to customers rather than assuming DNV GL knows what they need. 

  • Cash

    : Help to collect it for the work DNV GL has done. 

  • Cost:

    Be conscious of it, particularly non-critical cost. 

Step 2:

Dealing with accelerating frustration as the crisis deepened

As the severity of the market crisis hit home, Peakon began to reveal a change in employee sentiment as they entered the ‘frustration’ phase of the Change Curve. Employees recognised things were different. They began questioning DNV GL’s leaders’ decisions, sometimes angrily. 

It was time to put leaders in front of the masses more frequently to explain themselves. DNV GL posed employee’s questions collected through Peakon to leaders in weekly ‘Question Time’ videos, recorded in Microsoft Teams (which all employees were now using daily) published on DNV GL’s intranet and to employees through email. 

As frustration built over time (as DNV GL expected it would), the questions got more challenging and the need for leadership compassion became more important in its messaging. This tactic boosted leadership visibility and engendered a feeling of employee participation in a dialogue with management: two key components of change communication. 

Step 3:

Setting a vision when motivation hit a low

Two months into the programme cost-saving measures were beginning to bite hard. Most employees had taken a reduction in salary and were in their umpteenth week of working from home. Despite significant sales efforts, the market crisis wasn’t showing much sign of recovery. It was becoming obvious that DNV GL could be in this for the long-haul. Peakon started to show classic symptoms of the lowest phase of the Change Curve. Depression. The mood was low and lacking in energy. Now was the time to lift the organisation up the other side of the change curve and motivate them to engage with a ‘new normal’.

DNV GL used a two-day online management conference for DNV GL’s top 100 managers to spark new motivation, with its  CEO giving its vision for returning the business to growth. The event was based on honest conversations and simple storytelling techniques because the best stories are passed on. This one was. A lot.

Timescales of the campaign


  • Ongoing measurement of employee engagement begins 
  • First set of employee questions collected through Peakon 
  • Messaging developed and cascaded

April & May 

  • Employee questions collected, ‘Question Time’ interviews recorded and published weekly 
  • Preparation for management conference begins in May

June & July

  • Management conference held in first week of June 
  • Re-telling of its vision story begins


  • More than 600 questions collected from employees 
  • 11 ‘Question Time’ interviews viewed more than 7,000 times 
  • 98.5% of top 100 managers understood vision for building a growth business 
  • No deterioration in employee engagement since the start of the crisis (Peakon analysis)
  • Q2 sales order book remained at similar level to 2019 levels, despite market crisis. This resulted in revenue contraction being stemmed to half of forecast 
  • Year-on-year profitability increased thanks to employee cost-consciousness.

B2B Marketing Awards 2020

This submission won the award for 

‘Best employee engagement’

 at the B2B Marketing Awards this year.

Find out who made the shortlist here!

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