You will be preparing a series of strategic communications and an outline for delivering them regarding a significant change in the annual retreat.
Financial Service Now (FSN), is a faith-based financial consulting organization that was started in 1998 by Susan Demarco as a local financial consulting practice and has since grown to over 60 locations throughout the Midwest. The company now employs 175 consultants across the United States who operate from virtual offices, meeting with clients in person but with leadership and co-workers primarily by videoconference. The company’s business leadership team includes: President, Susan Demarco, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Senior VP of Human Resources who are all based out of a headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. The leadership team also includes the Senior VP and Chief Operations Officer, VP of Innovation, and VP of Human Resources, as well as 18 State Regional Directors, all of whom are networked virtually. All totaled, the organization has 525 employees. Each regional center meets weekly for accountability and updates, and the Regional Directors meet with their teams every other week.
One of the company’s most popular events is the well-publicized annual meeting which is typically held at a nice destination hotel/resort with great amenities, strategically planned so that participants can golf or participate in fun outings in the morning, have a social afternoon with dinner provided, and the meeting the next day which features great speakers and food. It is always a rallying time when the company’s leadership celebrates its accomplishments, recognizes its outstanding employees, and announces new initiatives. However, the rising costs of hotels, transportation, and fuel, coupled with new regulatory challenges for corporate accountability and sustainability, as well as having a mostly virtual workforce, have forced the company’s leadership to question whether this remains a sustainable option. While employees enjoy and value this event, in the past year costs have risen 15-20%, costing the company upwards of $100,000 for the one event, and leadership is not sure that the benefit is worth the cost. They’re also concerned about the continuing pattern of increase and the impact on the company’s bottom line
You have been appointed as the Coordinator of Communication for Financial Service Now (FSN), a faith-based financial consulting firm, and you have been tasked with introducing a new initiative. Although the new initiative makes sound financial sense to the company’s leaders and helps improve the company’s overall sustainability, it involves a substantive change in the company’s methods that will likely meet with divergent reactions.
Leadership has identified two options to deal with this issue. One is to identify what would need to be removed from the company’s employee support in order to fund the gathering. Lucky for you, this has landed in the finance area for analysis. The other option is to try a virtual meeting this next go around. You have been charged with creating a plan to communicate this to individuals in the organization, and leadership has cautioned you that it needs to be presented as a positive and valuable option. The company has decided to offer a virtual annual meeting this year rather than a destination event, meaning that although they’ll still have the same caliber of the speaker and general focus of the gathering, it will be from participants’ virtual offices rather than a mostly-paid-for destination retreat.
As the Coordinator for Communications, you now have the challenge of conveying these new initiatives and their rationale to your consultants. You know these changes will garner a wide variety of reactions, as well as generate rumors, questions, and uncertainty about the company’s future and the viability of virtual meetings. Plus, it’s a lot to take in all at once. Yet, you’ve seen the bottom-line numbers and you know what budget and economic realities your leadership team is facing, so you know to help the company succeed through these challenges you will need to make an effective case for this change through a series of well-planned business communications over the next four months to prepare your consultants for the upcoming changes.