Comments Off on Using Wearable Technology To Improve Your Event
INVOLVE was recently asked by one of the worlds largest healthcare companies to design a 1-day event for all of their UK HQ based employees (circa 200 employees).
The brief was to create a live experience that galvanised every employee around a shared purpose, and created excitement about the next chapter of the business.
It was also important to share each of the key business functions priorities and challenges, and increase collaboration throughout the whole group; reflecting the companies ambitions for a new way of working.
In one main room, INVOLVE created 11 distinct zones (circling a central stage) that brought to life each of the 11 main business functions. Each zone got colleagues involved (co-creation and collaboration) by getting their input into each functions’ main business challenge. Each session was fast paced, fun and focused on real business ideas and outcomes.
Prior to the event, we put every employee into pre-defined colour coded teams. Then, using Crystal Interactive smart wearable tech, we managed every participants experience through that colour coding. Quite simply, each of the stands had a unique colour identifier. So as an attendee, if your watch started to flash that stands colour, it was time to move to your next session.
The watches were a big hit. They not only added a bit of tech wow factor, but genuinely made the whole event more effective. Underpinned by a gamified event app, colleagues were incentivised to use the Klik watches to Connect with each other, Collect further information about each function via iBeacons, and Compete to earn the most amount of points. A live leaderboard continuously updated and the final top 3 performers received prizes.
Comments Off on The Magical Instant Engagement Wand
Look out for our latest Brand Marketing drive, which could be landing on a desk near you very soon.
Safely locked inside this cryptic book-safe is the lesser spotted, highly sought after magical instant engagement wand! With one swift swoosh of the wand, accompanied by the words “Expecto Engageum”, your colleagues will be championing you and your customers will be cheering about you!
Ahhh, wouldn’t life be easier if such a wand actually existed?!?!
Some of our clients have recently asked us to create ‘Escape Room’ type experiences as part of their projects, which inspired us to create this challenge and send it out to our clients and friends. If we can engage them for a couple of minutes with this puzzle, just imagine what we can do with their next event!
We’ve spent over 20 years uncovering the secrets of delivering powerful conferences and events that humanise business, energise culture and mobilise people.
Our work isn’t quite as instant as a magic wand, but we can help create equally dramatic results and have fun at the same time.
If you didn’t receive one of these puzzles and would like to give it a go, feel free to drop us an email and we’ll get one sent out to you.
“Wow! I thought yesterday was amazing. I had such nerves around the final session but people surpassed my expectations and then some.
Thank you so much for your endless positivity, your exceptional creativity and tirelessly keeping me to deadlines and a healthy to do list! It has been an ABSOLUTE pleasure and a well needed breath of fresh air working with an agency like INVOLVE. Not only did Ash wow us with the ideas in the early days, you delivered on every single one of your promises too.”
Comments Off on Jack Roper – Cultural Change at Virgin Trains East Coast
A little context…
I’ve been Head of Internal Communications at Virgin Trains East Coast for the last couple of years. It’s one of the newest members of the Virgin family (already a pretty eclectic bunch – bank, airline, media, balloons, etc!). It’s also a business with a long history in its own right.
The East Coast Mainline has a massive amount of heritage, going back to Stephenson’s rocket and the heyday of the industrial age. The people who work there have masses of pride in their industry, but it hasn’t always been easy for the company, passing in and out of public ownership.
When I was asked to come and lead the internal comms team, I couldn’t really say no to this heady combo of history, potential, dynamism and tradition! I could tell that helping establish an iconic brand in a place that has its own distinctive history, culture and style would be a massively exciting challenge – particularly for someone with a background in financial services.
And so it turned out.
Making It Happen
As you can imagine, running a railway company has its own challenges when it comes to engaging and informing the workforce. There’s the age-old issue of dealing with colleagues spread out along hundreds of miles of track from Aberdeen to London, working in all kinds of roles, 24 hours a day, every day except Christmas and Boxing Day.
The good news, though, was what soon became my mantra: “everyone in our company has a boss and an iPhone.” In turn, our connectivity strategy has been all about maximising these resources: iPhones to deliver regular, quality “news and views content” and access to UGC and social communities through Yammer. And well-informed, engaged managers who can help their people through change, and to see how what’s happening at the enterprise level is important to them.
Of course, many of us try to educate certain sections of the media to the fact that there is no such thing as a ‘quickie divorce’. But for the FT to herald, the ‘quickie divorce could become even quicker’? How was any provider of legal services going to speed up the divorce process as it currently stands?
And right now, we’re taking our engagement with managers to the next level by working with INVOLVE to create a truly unforgettable couple of days in the autumn. This is our managers’ opportunity to explore the future, get enthused about it, and go evangelise to the people back at the…well, not office, but depot, train, platform, ticket office – you get the idea.
The Virgin Culture
Creating a Virgin culture in an industry traditionally hostile to private ownership has been the other real challenge. For me, this is a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve run this race by making sure that as an internal comms team we’ve always amplified events and stories that show what our desired culture looks like. And we’ve worked hand-in-glove with other HR disciplines like Employee Relations and Talent to support the conversations our organisation needed about the culture we’re going after.
And we’re probably, what, 10 miles into the marathon now? So this is a good time for me to duck out.
To my successor, I’d say to keep enjoying the challenge. Use the Virgin brand and everything it stands for (entrepreneurialism, not taking no for an answer, having a bash with all your heart) to keep the business on the right course, stretched and challenged. And, of course, as a way to have fun!
I’m now looking forward to starting my new role with Virgin Media where I’m heading up internal comms for their corporate functions. I’m desperate to see what it’s like in a Virgin company which has recently been bought by a third party. I suspect a lot of the challenges will be the same: connectivity, trust in leaders, belief in the future.
And the ones that aren’t? I couldn’t guess so I won’t. I think we comms types are at our best when finding our way through with a touch of ambiguity, slotsfans, humour and a hefty dose of focus on the end goal.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on Jack’s blog. Have you faced similar challenges with kickstarting a new culture? How are you working with your managers to help make this happen within your business?
Comments Off on Lindsay Devereux, Landing Messages at Cathay Pacific
Last year I decided I needed a new challenge and embarked on a whirlwind adventure which took me to a new country, saw me gain a new surname (not due to any criminal activity or witness protection program I promise) and take on the challenge of a new role. If all that wasn’t enough to keep me occupied, my new role also happened to be in a new sector too – the airline business.
There’s a lot more to an airline than just getting you from A to B on time and in one piece, as I found out first hand after joining Cathay Pacific Engineering as Communications Manager in November.
For anyone thinking about a move into the sector or just wanting to have a laugh at my naivety, here’s four things I’ve learnt in my first four months:
It’s a calling, not a career
There are two things I’ve found that airline employees have in common- an obsession with travel and an addiction to aircraft. A gift to work with for any communications professional but beware, working with such a highly engaged and passionate team also means you’re in for a steep learning curve (or a rejected take-off or two) when it comes to comms. You’ll need to quickly learn the difference between an A350 and B777, or an APU and AKL. But fear not, that’s half the battle won in itself! It’s a uniting factor which you can use as a tool to break down the barriers and silos across departments, and boy have there some seriously ingrained silos.
Like an aircraft, every department in an airline has a very specific task and purpose, and working with Engineers on the whole means dealing with highly detail-oriented, process-driven people. A big challenge I’ve encountered is getting beyond the technical and into the story – focussing on the why, not the what.
Developing a vision and purpose for engineering which clearly articulates why we exist has provided a great anchor for our communications. It’s also helped us in how we tell Engineering’s story back to the rest of the company, working towards breaking down the barriers between departments and shining a light on the work we do behind the scenes to get our customers to where they’re going safely and on schedule.
Be prepared to be perplexed
Every industry has their own terminology, and I’ve come across more acronyms in my work life than most after spending a chunk of time working in Financial Services, but nothing prepared me for the volume used in the aviation industry. From airport codes (or IATA for those in the know) to aircraft parts – embarking on a new career in an airline can seem like it comes with the requirement to learn a whole new language, one that consists mainly of three letter words.
Don’t be afraid to attack the acronym. Even though they appear everywhere and everyone seemed to be in the know, it quickly became clear that even colleagues who’d been in the business for 30 years weren’t always sure what they stood for. And to make matters more complex, every department has their own too! I’ve set about collating a very long list of all our acronyms (which I plan to burn to ward off evil spirits at a later date) and vowed to simplify and standardise the way we communicate. 2017 may be the year of the Rooster but it’s also the year we’ll wage war on those pesky three letter words.
A whole new meaning for speedy boarding
On a personal note, working for an airline has many benefits, the main one that springs to mind first is staff travel. The opportunity to travel to far-flung destinations in search of adventure, there’s one thing you need to know before you do – the dreaded standby. Staff travel conjures up dreams of hopping on a plane at the drop of the hat, and sometimes that can be true, but be prepared to change plans at the last minute and travel in your running shoes – you’ll need to perfect the sprint from check-in desk to departure gate in Usain Bolt, world record beating times once you’re tickets have been confirmed.
Once you’ve limbered up your limbs and perfected the departure dash, you’ll find travel experiences are a massive part of what bonds people together and the world becomes a much smaller and accessible place.
This frenetic pace isn’t always reflected in the non-customer facing elements of an airline, and for some good reasons too. Engineering in particular is all about safety – making sure our aircraft are reassuringly safe and exceptionally reliable is our mantra and that can sometimes mean process is king which can slow down decision making. Injecting a sense of progress and reinforcing the need for change at a pace has become a focus in our communications. Clearly tying everything back to our strategy and vision helps everyone see the steps we’re taking to get back to winning ways.
The world becomes a much smaller place
And that’s not just down to the staff discount. I’ve met colleagues from Cathay Pacific based all over the world in my first four months; from Tokyo to Taipei, from Auckland to Alaska – the diversity and complexity of your audience can be immense. I’m spending time every day learning more about the different teams and roles we have, what’s important for an Engineering Manager working shifts at a freezing outstation in Alaska wants to know versus a colleague in Quality Assurance in Hong Kong. My tip would be, give yourself plenty of time to get to know your people and don’t rush it – you’re not going to get to grips with it all in the first few months and people won’t appreciate if you make assumptions.
Working with remote teams based all over the world means you also have to make the use of digital channels and think more about accessibility of information. We use Yammer as a tool for our people based remotely and have a high level of engagement from a technical perspective but there’s definitely room for improvement. In 2017, I want to develop Yammer further, encouraging more two way conversation between our leadership team and colleagues as we embark on an exciting and challenging period of change at Cathay Pacific. Connecting our people right across the organisation, no matter whether they are based in Hong Kong or Ho Chi Minh, Tel Aviv or Texas, it will become ever more important building connections and encouraging more collaboration if we’re to emerge from this rough bout of turbulence.
One thing is for certain, after a few weeks working in the frenetic buzz of an airline, you’ll find yourself addicted – and with a long list of destinations to visit and an even longer list of reasons to stay in the airline business.
We would love to hear your thoughts on Lindsay’s blog. How are you effectively making some of your industry’s jargon more human? How are you making your communications resonate with logical and predominantly ‘left sided brain’ thinkers?
Comments Off on Katharina Auer, Measuring Engagement, Zurich Insurance
To set some context
Zurich as a business has an incredible heritage – we are 135 years young and have around 55,000 employees worldwide. It is these employees who are at the heart of our success.
As a business we have extremely ambitious targets for service excellence and growth. In order to help achieve these targets we need a culture of continuous listening and high performance. In short we want to get a deeper understanding of what makes employees tick, and measure it!
Since 2009, the company has run global surveys every two years, which gave valuable but limited insight into perceptions of, for example, strategy execution, career development, leadership effectiveness and culture. We recognised that our approach to measuring employee engagement should be more strategic and business relevant.
To gain a better understanding of whether we were doing the right things to drive excellent performance, we need much more regular insights into the employee experience. The company decided to move away from their traditional survey cycle which occurred every two years to a continuous listening approach.
So, working closely with HR, the Zurich IC team developed a new approach called Voice of the Employee, or VoE for short. We wanted to move away from capturing just ‘moments in time’ survey data and snapshots, to a more fluid approach that would provide us with a more regular flow of employee feedback. This would help continuous improvement within teams and help in aligning employees with Zurich’s strategy.
Gathering a more regular feedback flow helps teams track how their doing against improvement priorities they have identified as part of the overall survey feedback. This is primarily local and team driven, but through ongoing pulse surveys and dialogue with employee networks and communication colleagues around the world, we can get pretty good temperature checks. We may not have all of the sophisticated tools we would like, but our approach is pragmatic and focuses on working with what we have.
Bear with me here as this is going to get a bit technical. In addition to employee engagement and performance enablement, we also measure the degree to which employees are active advocates of Zurich as a place to work and of Zurich’s products and services, giving us an Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), which gives us structured data. As it turns out, this score correlates strongly with employee engagement and is therefore a potential predictor of company performance and staff loyalty. The eNPS survey items have been very well received by the business, many parts of which are familiar with this methodology from customer research practice. The biggest advantage of creating the eNPS was that we have created a methodology that makes sense to the wider team outside of the comms function, and one that can be correlated to customer NPS data. Verbatims from surveys as well as network feedback, online comments & ratings give us unstructured data.
We have supported the VoE survey with other measures of employee views, such as online polls, pulse surveys, exit surveys (in some countries) and plans for a new joiner survey. In addition, Zurich monitors internal and external social feedback and data.
In addition, HR used the data to analyse turnover and causes of turnover in specific employee demographics. This analysis will help address any attrition issues and potentially retention in these specific groups.
So where does communication come into this?
The employee survey data represents communication outcomes. Internal Communications (the function) enables internal communications (the process), which includes effective leader and line manager communication, as well as the communication activities, tools & channels the team delivers and manages. We have clearly defined objectives, outcome and activity measures for everything we do. We train and upskill leaders and managers with a communication skills training we have developed, and we provide them with the tools and talking points they need. We look at the data to identify where we, the IC team, need to strengthen our focus. We encourage open and honest feedback from employees through our channels, including live ‘jams’ on Yammer with senior leaders. We measure channel effectiveness, we measure communication effectiveness by projects or workstreams and finally, we measure activity effectiveness (with post event research for instance). But the full employee data set is essentially the ‘mother lode’ of outcomes data for an internal communicator. If we did a good job delivering our activities, as well as enabling leaders and managers to communicate effectively, the outcome data will be positive.
Why does it matter?
Research from AON Hewitt shows that organizations with high levels of engagement (65% or greater) continue to outperform the total stock market index and posted total shareholder returns 22% higher than average. On the other hand, companies with low engagement (45% or less) had a total shareholder return that was 28% lower than the average.
So: effective internal communication practices (the IC team and the IC process) drive engagement, which in turn drives productivity, which in turn impacts business outcomes (for example total shareholder return, employee turnover costs, health & safety performance).
We are now looking forward to working on the next steps of our continuous listening strategy to capture the value of our employees’ views and opinions. The continuous improvement approach will not end as we strive to make Zurich a business where employees continue to thrive, are rewarded with more opportunities and most importantly enjoy their work.
We’d love to get your thoughts on this. How do you currently approach your employee engagement survey? Have you considered a daily approach rather than the more traditional annual survey? How do your leaders / managers help with the ongoing engagement efforts?
A question we’ve all asked ourselves hundreds of times I’m sure!
Well in case you weren’t sure, and more importantly would like to know more about the benefits of employee engagement, then look no further. Just check out this cool animation we’ve produced that answers all those questions and more. We find it to be a great little tool for explaining what engagement is all about to those people that don’t live in it 24/7! Get in touch and send us your feedback.