For years, employers have discouraged employees from sharing their work experiences on social media platforms. However, forward-thinking companies like Mars Wrigley are now actively encouraging their associates to become influential advocates online.
The world-renowned confectionery company has launched ‘Made By You,’ an initiative that not only leverages social media but also empowers associates to share their unique perspectives on what it truly means to work at Mars Wrigley.
By embracing the power of social media, Mars Wrigley acknowledges the potential of these digital platforms to shape public perceptions, attract top talent, and foster a sense of authenticity in their employer brand.
Lucia Kuri, Vice President, People & Organization Global Emerging Markets, Mars Wrigley, joins HRD Connect to unwrap this sweet social media success story.
Made by You: Mars Wrigley’s employee-led social media campaign goes viral on TikTok
Mars Wrigley consistently pursues new ways to create an employee experience where its associates thrive.
Whilst the impact of Gen Z on the workplace begins to increase in countries such as the US, this trend is particularly prevalent in emerging markets such as the Middle East and North Africa, where organizations are navigating a five-generation workforce with a median population age of 22 years compared to a global average of 28.
Mars Wrigley, therefore, selected the Middle East as the pilot region for the Made by You initiative, which has since expanded to become a global campaign.
As employees become more vocal than ever on social media, Mars Wrigley elected to promote, rather than prohibit, the use of social media (including TikTok) by its employees. “The objective was to inspire our next generation to start communicating who we are and tell the story about working for Mars Wrigley,” Kuri explains.
The Made by You program is simple and creative. Mars Wrigley extended an open invitation to its associates to talk about their experiences at work and the pride they feel working for the company. The immediate response, recalls Kuri, was overwhelmingly positive:
“Many people raised their hands. Some spoke about their development and career at Mars Wrigley. Others were focused on collaboration. Some explained our five-principle culture of quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency, and freedom, and what the principles mean to them.
“A lot of people also shared the benefits of working for Mars Wrigley, compensation, and development opportunities. It was very open.”
Forming a social media strategy partnership
Made by You originated in Mars Wrigley’s People and Organization division, as a solution for better communication with existing associates. But the People and Organization division also designed this initiative to invite people to work for Mars Wrigley.
In doing so, it became a collaboration alongside the internal communications team and the employer branding team. “It was an effort and synergy between these three functions,” Kuri explains. “This campaign is all in external social media, be it TikTok or Facebook. So, the partnership with internal communications and employer branding was extremely important.”
Together, the teams agreed this invitation would be open, with no criteria for participation based on race, ethnicity, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, or seniority.
Despite initially extending the invite to employees in the Middle East and North Africa as a pilot, Mars Wrigley has since used internal media to open this initiative many other global emerging markets including Mexico, Australia, Asia, India, and Brazil.
Measuring the impact of Made by You
The Made by You initiative has driven a staggering amount of social media activity.
Mars Wrigley estimates the Made By You hashtag has over 29 million views on TikTok. Moreover, the campaign has driven higher engagement on other forms have social media, from reviews to comments.
Kuri highlights the impact of Made by You on Mars Wrigley’s initial objectives of external attraction and internal retention:
“We’ve started to see associates recommending people from the outside and bringing them into the talent acquisition process. We increased the flow of candidates into our hiring streams. But we’ve also measured an increase in awareness internally about what it means to work for Mars Wrigley.
“We’re also trying to connect communities across global emerging markets. Our emerging markets comprise more than 130 countries. Imagine associates from India connecting with people from Australia.”
“The Mars Wrigley purpose is inspiring moments of everyday happiness for our customers. A big question for us has been how we bring moments of happiness to our associates. So, when we saw people communicating and having fun, and bringing in moments of happiness, it was remarkable.”
Through this connection, curiosity, and collaboration across geographic boundaries, Mars Wrigley has increased the self-awareness, belonging, and engagement of its associates.
Mars Incorporated has over 140,000 across the world, including within the Mars Wrigley division. “We don’t treat our associates as employees. We treat them as leaders and owners of the business,” Kuri adds.
Mars Wrigley associates have been positive in their reception and feedback of the Made by You initiative. “Associates told us their engagement increased with the opportunity to share their story authentically,” Kuri says. “They had the opportunity to understand what it means to work for Mars Wrigley across the world.”
Associates were also eager to share ideas and feedback on areas including the evolution of online training and hybrid collaboration and thereby took part in an open discussion about Mars Wrigley’s future of work strategy.
Lastly, participating associates emphasized their eagerness to see the scheme expanded to all Mars Wrigley associates outside the global emerging markets.
Social media and TikTok training
As a purpose-driven organization, Mars Wrigley had to navigate a tricky boundary between driving their desired outcome, amongst all generations within its workforce, without stripping associates of the right to freely share their opinion or only hearing from younger generations who are more likely to use social media such as TikTok.
Mars Wrigley had to find the correct way to creatively communicate with associates to truly inspire them to share their thoughts about working for the organization.
“How do we want to tell the world the way we work? Driven by our population, not by someone in a newspaper. The challenge was pushing consistent communication.”
More than five generations are working together at Mars Wrigley, each with different communication preferences. To ensure all associates had the freedom and inspiration to share their voices, Mars Wrigley pursued different forms of communication with each generation and delivered social media training.
“It comes with a lot of responsibility when you decide to post on social media. Because of our talent strategy to attract, retain, and engage our associates, we worked with our employer branding and internal communication teams to make sure every single influencer who wanted to participate was briefed and coached.
“The learning focused on helping each participant share their experience whilst still properly representing the company. It was a guided process.”
A future of open employer-employee conversation
Drawing on the success of Made by You, Kuri is quick to advocate for an ongoing dialogue between employees and employers. “My advice to large corporations is to stay open, to listen to our associates, and never take their feedback for granted,” she says.
Finding fresh and flexible approaches to employee listening will be central to the way Mars Wrigley operates.
“We need to be flexible in the way we operate. And we need to continue the conversation about our future of work strategy. So, we need to rethink the way we listen to our associates and make them part of the change. We’re in a digital revolution and evolution. So, finding this creative way to communicate and talk to the world outside our walls was fantastic.”
Mars Wrigley will continue to embrace digital and technological capabilities in its strategy. Moreover, it will focus on being consistent.
“The People and Organization division is not about policies, organizational structure, or re-organization,” explains Kuri. “It’s about understanding our associates and evolving our culture and capabilities for the future. The only way we can achieve our goals is through our talent.”