Leading workforce communications at a Fortune 100 company

January 31, 2022
Greg Efthimiou, ’99, guides global internal communications and community relations at Honeywell

Inform, engage, inspire. These are the communications goals championed by Greg Efthimiou, ’99, Vice President, Internal Communications and Community Relations at Honeywell, a Charlotte, N.C.-based Fortune 100 industrial technology company.

Among his responsibilities, Efthimiou leads a diverse team charged with ensuring Honeywell’s 103,000 employees in 70 countries are aligned with and connected to the company’s strategic direction and mission. Never, he said, has this been more important than during the pandemic.

“In my line of work, there’s a crisis communications scenario for virtually every situation—except a global pandemic,” he said. “My team has concentrated on getting credible, timely information into the hands of employees, cutting through the media clutter, and focusing on the well-being of employees and their loved ones.”

Communications about a new sick-leave policy and a $10 million employee-relief fund signaled the company’s care and concern for employees during the pandemic. Other communications spotlighted the expertise and insights of Honeywell’s in-house medical directors.

“It’s been an honor to host our medical directors for more than 60 hour-long COVID-19 employee question-and-answer sessions since January 2021,” Efthimiou said. “These doctors are a unique company asset. They share unfiltered, unbiased, accurate information that employees can’t get elsewhere. If even one employee or family member is protected from the effects of COVID-19 as a result of these sessions, the doctors’ efforts have been worthwhile.”   

One particularly effective tool for communications has been storytelling, he said. He has prioritized storytelling since he joined Honeywell in 2019.

“Our stories highlight how employees contribute to the company’s success, how we support the communities where we operate, and how we are an industry leader in creating innovative technologies that are helping the world emerge from the pandemic,” Efthimiou said.

One such story showcased ThermoRebellion, the company’s thermal-imaging and artificial intelligence system that can detect a person’s temperature from a distance up to 10 feet away. ThermoRebellion made it possible to quickly and safely scan the temperatures of thousands of people before they entered mass vaccination clinics that Honeywell helped stage at an NFL football stadium and NASCAR racetrack in Charlotte in spring 2021, Efthimiou said.

“Honeywell is extraordinarily proud to have played a part in the mass vaccination efforts,” he said.

The communications executive also shared the story of how Honeywell partnered with two civic organizations to create the Charlotte Center City Small Business Innovation Fund. Conceived and designed to help small businesses survive and thrive during the pandemic, the fund distributed $4.6 million in grants – with more than $2 million of it coming from Honeywell – to nearly 150 small businesses in the last two years. Nearly 90 percent of the grants went to small businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans.  

Telling inspirational stories to Honeywell employees and external stakeholders is central to the work of Efthimiou’s communications team.

“Message strategies and execution play a profound role in how people perceive their work and contributions to broader society,” he said. “Our employees significantly ramped up production of N95 protective masks, designed ultraviolet light-sanitization technology for commercial airplanes, and created healthy-buildings technologies that allowed office buildings to reopen after sitting idle for months.”

As an undergraduate at the University of Richmond’s Jepson School of Leadership Studies, Efthimiou said he learned to think critically and globally and to empathize, thereby gaining insights into what motivates people.

“For me, there’s no greater privilege than guiding and shaping the careers of those devoting their time and talent to being professional communicators,” he said. “From a professional standpoint, sharing what I’ve learned with my team members, guiding their development, and encouraging their creativity is what gets me out of bed every morning.” 

Update: On May 9, 2022, Greg Efthimiou began his new role as Vice President of Public Relations at GoDaddy.