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Corporate Communications

How to Create a Culture of Storytelling

Telling stories helps people open up to one another and bond as a result. Handled well, a corporate storytelling program can make employees feel more comfortable and engaged at work, as well as attracting a more diverse range of job candidates

Many communicators wish that all employees in their company, from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy, would share their work stories more freely, both among themselves and as broadly as possible.

When leaders and employees open up to one another using stories, they can often form deeper bonds and help people with diverse perspectives and experiences to feel like they belong to the organization. And when communications teams capture and amplify those authentic stories further, it means even more employees and job candidates feel more comfortable and engaged at work.

But sharing personal stories can feel risky for the employees involved. Employees who are used to maintaining professional boundaries may be scared to put “themselves out there” and end up looking foolish.

How One Company Does It

To help create a more authentic and connected culture, the comms team at one large financial services provider in CEB, now Gartner’s networks, runs a series of live events called “CapitalSpeaks,” where employees tell deeply personal stories on stage to their peers. Making employee storytelling a cause for celebration signals to other employees that their personal stories are valued and should be shared.

The firm has found there are two important keys to getting these events right:

  1. Story selection: The comms team is careful to select stories about life lessons that fit with the company’s values. The stories frankly address difficult topics like illness and loss, while illustrating the company’s commitment to supporting employees’ personally, and not just professionally.

  2. Storytelling coaching: Participants receive professional coaching to build their comfort and confidence in public storytelling, which makes the experience seem more accessible and attractive to other employees.

CapitalSpeaks attendance has steadily increased since 2015, reflecting employees’ growing comfort with authentic personal stories. Event footage features prominently in recruitment marketing videos — like “Meet Our Associates: Kris” and “Meet Our Associates: Vickie” – which humanizes the company for prospective employees.


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