Northwestern Mutual, the winner of PR News’ 2011 Platinum PR Award in employee communications, has developed over the years a strong bond with its hometown of Milwaukee, Wisc., that enriches both company employees and the greater community. The communications team is always looking for ways to further strengthen that bond, and found one when longtime Northwestern chairman and CEO Edward J. Zore decided to retire in 2010. Northwestern commemorated Zore’s community ties by developing “Leaving a Legacy: The Million Minutes Project.” The concept behind the project was strong and clear: Northwestern Mutual would donate 1 million minutes of employee time to nonprofits throughout Milwaukee.
All 5,000 employees would be given four hours of paid time off, and be challenged to find a way they could help their community. More than 4,000 employees (80% of the workforce) volunteered just over 1 million minutes to more than 1,120 nonprofit organizations throughout Milwaukee, ranging from schools and food banks to home building and special needs programs. In a wrap-up survey of Northwestern Mutual employees, their positive impressions of the company increased to 97%.
|The communications team at Northwestern Mutual (l-r): Rebecca Schwerdtfeger, Meredyth Naramore, Jean Towell, Shawn Rolland, Kirsten Helgeson and John Forristal. Not pictured: Jennifer Ryan.|