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Bring your work to kids: how Mower kept its staff in good company through the pandemic

Mower created an daily interactive challenge to help staff navigate the isolation of an unprecented time.

Mower won ‘Best B2B Agency Promotion’ at The Drum Awards for B2B in 2021 with its innovative solution for parents working from home. Recognizing people as the company’s greatest asset, Mower created an interactive platform to both combat social isolation and engage homeschooling parents. Here, the team behind the initiative explains what went into this winning entry.

When Covid-19 hit the U.S. in 2020, work and all that it encompassed changed forever. 75% of American families were now forced to work and learn from home - making our professional and personal lives impossible to separate. For a company with culture at its core, and people as its greatest asset, there was a genuine concern for our employees being isolated from their peers, for the additional tasks being placed on caregivers and for the mental health effects that loneliness and isolation can incite. We needed a way to keep our employees engaged - not in work, but in interpersonal interaction - and give people, their family and friends (and even clients) a respite from the increasing pressures that Covid-19 distancing were creating. Typically, we have between approximately 50% employee participation in social activities. Our goal was to maintain or increase that engagement and set a foundation for further engagement.

According to the Health Resources & Administration of the US government, “… social isolation can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day… Two in five Americans report that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated.” Also, “the lack of connection can have life threatening consequences,” said BYU professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad.

The good news is that friendships reduce the risk of mortality or developing certain diseases and can speed recovery in those who fall ill. Moreover, “simply reaching out to lonely people can jump-start the process of getting them to engage with neighbors and peers,” according to Robin Caruso of CareMore Health.

The consequences of inaction were too great to ignore so we reached out to our staff through a series of short surveys to see how they were doing. We discovered 43% of our employees have kids under 18 at home who they are caring for/teaching. And that their new “coworkers” create a stressful environment. Two thirds were very concerned about contracting the virus from someone outside their household. And quarter of employees stated that stress is hurting their mental state/family life. On the positive side, 64% believe time spent w/ family keeps their spirits up.

We decided to embrace this moment in time with an interactive experience meant to connect employees, their families, and even clients and lift everyone’s spirits up as we collectively navigated the unknown.

Now that our employees had moved from a traditional office setting into isolated, home-based arrangements, we brought an idea to life that could enable connections and even welcome our new at-home ‘coworkers’. We flipped a well-loved office event on its head - pivoting the tradition of bringing children to work into “Bring Your Work to Kids.”

The idea was two-fold. First, to give all employees a reason to connect with their coworkers, their families fur babies through fun activities and challenges. And secondly to give working parents a break in their days, where fellow coworkers could entertain their kids for a while.

Every day during the Spring of 2020, our “Bring Your Work to Kids” team sent out a daily challenge. The challenges ranged from crafts and scavenger hunts to video-based challenges and activities that supported local businesses and frontline workers. Knowing our target audience was diverse in age and home life, we made the material versatile enough that employees could enjoy these challenges on their own, as a family, or send their little ones off with a mission that would keep them busy for a while. There were even challenges where pets could get involved!

As submissions began to flood our inbox, we highlighted completed challenges on our social channels, which invited external viewers to follow along with their families and friends. The daily challenges finally built up to a Bring Your Work to Kids Day event, where our employees, their families, and even some clients, came together for several hours of family-friendly virtually hosted activities. These activities highlighted many different interests, including original music and sing-alongs, a logo design project curated by ‘BossMan’, storytelling, a found object invention competition, and a nature safari inspired by The Cincinnati Zoo. On the day of this family-friendly event, we simultaneously launched a “Bring Your Work to Kids Day” microsite, which archived all the previous content and the day’s activities, plus offered free, ongoing creative activities for people to enjoy.

Originally, this campaign was simply an internal effort to help employees stay engaged, stay connected, and take some of the anxiety out of trying to balance their family and work lives. But as it went on, it turned into so much more. As viewers saw our daily challenges posted on our social platforms, they began to play along - producing their own content and tagging us in it. We posted over 175 pieces of content on our socials which received our highest engagement of the quarter with over 40,000 impressions and 21,000 engagements - equaling just over 6% for average engagement. And our “Bring to Work to Kids Day” virtual event, exceeded our objectives by 80%--engaging nearly 140% of our initial participant goal. Including 96% of employees, and an additional 54% of friends and client’s participation.

From this campaign, we built our brand in a few unique ways. We posted over 175 pieces of content on our socials which received our highest engagement of the quarter with over 40,000 impressions and 21,000 engagements - equaling just over 6% for average engagement. But also, our employees and followers were posting the Bring Your Work to Kids daily challenges on their own accounts and tagging us - stretching our brand awareness further than we ever anticipated. We also scored big press coverage from four major editorials - O'Dwyer's PR, MediaPost, Spectrum News Buffalo and IPREX Newsletter.

Our mission is to turn brands into friends through affection, relevance, and trust. This campaign showed we walk the talk. The singular focus on supporting employees and their families through genuine connections, helped improve our employer branding and agency promotion. The genuine care it expressed gave the morale boost our company community needed, and employees latched on - sharing the campaign on their personal channels. The engagement and notoriety Bring Your Work to Kids generated was gravy to our central mission: fostering friendship in a time of fear. And because of that, we’ve built a brand people want to promote.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for B2B. To find out more, including which competitions are currently open for entry, visit The Drum Awards website.

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