Case Study


Royal London sent an employee out on the streets of Edinburgh blindfolded to see if strangers would hug her – all in the name of trust.

5th June 2017

Standing blindfolded on a busy Edinburgh street bearing a sign reading “I trust you, do you trust me? Give me a hug” is not your average day at work. But Royal London employee Gail Brown found herself doing just that as part of a film produced to highlight a key company value – trust.

The challenge had been to find an engaging, thought-provoking way of illustrating trust in the workforce, and demonstrate to Royal London employees how their clients put their trust in the company, which can be a vulnerable situation for them.

The film was created to tie in with Royal London’s Spirit of Royal London employee roadshows, as head of internal comms Fionnuala Dowie explains.

“The Spirit of Royal London programme is about bringing a formerly disparate business together into ‘One Royal London’. It has at its core a series of values, created by our people in 2015. The values are: we are trustworthy, we are empowered, we achieve, and we collaborate.

“At the 2016 roadshows, we held a series of interactive exercises to help our people understand more about the values and how they can be lived day-to-day in their roles and with their teammates. For the values to be effective, it is important we have a common understanding of what they mean, and the associated behaviours and actions, both positive and negative.”

Bringing trust to life

Royal London worked with 2020 Productions to create a short film to help bring to life the trust value, and lead into the group discussions that followed.

The two-minute video filmed the real life reactions of the public as they walked past Gail and her sign, capturing the different responses; some people were hesitant, some amused, some curious and some keen. The genuine responses successfully illustrated that trust is a personal issue, and people react very differently when presented with a vulnerable situation.

“Trust can be emotional,” says Fionnuala, “and we wanted to generate a discussion about what trust means in the workforce, and what practical steps we need to take to build it with our customers and colleagues.”

The concept for the film was created by a working group made up of people from across Royal London, to ensure a wide range of employees provided input. Aside from the obvious challenges of filming in a busy city – and the odd over-zealous hugger – Fionnuala explains that creating something relatable was the biggest challenge.

“We really listened to the needs of the business, to understand from them what the key issues were, because we wanted to ensure the film was relevant and relatable to the every day. We obviously wanted it to be memorable and entertaining, but it was essential it also made people really think about the issue in relation to their work.”

The film received a very positive response, and feedback from the employee roadshows indicated it had successfully helped employees focus on what being trustworthy really meant for them and for their colleagues and customers. The Royal London team were delighted when it won best audio/visual employee communication at the IoIC Scotland Awards.

Fionnuala’s advice for anyone considering something similar is to look at the long-term solution.

“Try to have a long-term view of the objective – how can we actually change mindsets by creating something with a longer shelf-life? What happened when the film was first shown was just the beginning, we hope it is revisited again and again to reignite the discussion within teams and continue the debate.”


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