AWE keeps communications engaging for employees in diverse roles


The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) faces unique challenges when it comes to keeping employees informed without disengaging them.

AWE has employees in a diverse range of roles, from office-based workers to manufacturing and industrial staff, and even dedicated on-site firefighters. In addition, due to the high security nature of its work, employees are prohibited from having personal devices with them, and email hyperlinks are difficult to access.

Chris Coyne, head of reward and performance, says: “We recognised that this needed a lot more than just your traditional emails and fliers,” explains Coyne. “There is also a big drive at the moment to embed our corporate values and make sure people feel that they are lived and breathed in all areas of the organisation.”

A monthly internal e-zine, released as a PDF on a secure portal, provides updates on corporate developments, mandatory training, and other issues that line managers should be aware of.

An internal communications briefing group, comprising roughly 300 managers, meets once a month. These individuals are then responsible for cascading messages throughout the organisation.

Letters regarding employee benefits, including a fridge magnet with key information, are sent to worker’s homes, so that they can consider their benefits choices in a non-work environment and discuss them with family.

A series of roadshows took place over three weeks in November and December 2017, at AWE’s two main sites in the south-east. Just under 2,000 employees attended.

AWE’s internal communications team also tests messages with pilot groups, and tailors certain elements to different demographics. “We’re careful not to stereotype,” notes Coyne. “But at the same time we get different groups in the room and then get different questions and answers, and that makes sure we stay fresh and relevant.”

Coyne notes that, notwithstanding security concerns, the organisation also hopes to have access to contemporary technology-based messaging methods in the future.

However, there are also some benefits to the constraints the organisation experiences. “Those typical means are not open to [AWE], so it does require you to be a bit more creative and innovative and, quite bluntly, to put more effort into it,” says Coyne. “In this day and age it is less and less effective to send someone an email with a hyperlink, because we get so many, so actually forcing us to find different ways is very helpful.”