Employee apps are the fast and simple way to get your messages out to all your staff wherever they are in the organisation. Jim Black, Head of Corporate, Brand and Internal Communications at Lloyds Banking Group, and Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe, Managing Director EMEA of SocialChorus, were on stage at smileexpo to share their story and lessons learned from implementing MOVE, the Bank’s new employee comms app.
“Everyone knows that Lloyds Banking Group has been through the mill. But we are out of government ownership, the crisis is over, and we are culturally a very different organisation than we were back then,” Jim Black explained. So why has the bank decided that now is the right time to introduce an employee communications app?
Jim continues: “We have a new forward-thinking strategy around Transforming the Group to Succeed in a Digital World, and introducing the app is just a part of it. Banking is changing fast: by the end of the year, more banking will be done via apps than in branch, and as well as communicating differently with our customers, we need to be communicating differently with our colleagues too. Traditional top down cascades just don’t cut it any more. We have an intranet and a Jive based collaboration platform but the latter isn’t really a communications tool, and it felt like the right time to do something new and interesting. I wanted to do something that felt ambitious; something that would create a bit of a buzz about the place.”
The group has some 70,000 colleagues so whatever they decided to use had to be truly scalable. “We looked at several options and spoke to other clients using the platform. It seemed like a good fit for us culturally and it didn’t feel like a traditional Lloyds-style tool. Although it is largely a broadcast channel for group news, it has a much more democratic feel to it. It isn’t top down, nor command and control. Key information doesn’t get lost or contorted in the typical ‘permasfrost’ of middle management and our people have some say in what they are interested in reading about.”
Cyrus Gilbert-Rolfe was keen to point out that SocialChorus is both an employee engagement app and a publishing tool for any channel.
“It’s ideal for delivering ‘snackable’ content in an easy to digest format, taking up just a few minutes of your day. We wanted to deliver a clean and uncluttered experience and decided early on that we were not, first and foremost, a chat platform. Commenting is now available if required on specific stories or channels, but it’s not the core function of the platform.”
Getting the C-suite on board
Fortunately for Jim and his colleagues, the Group Chief Executive was keen from the offsetand the Employee Relations team had been involved right from the start. With an appetite in the business for trying something new, there was little push back and MOVE, as it is called, was unleashed on the business at the official launch events of the new strategy.
“We had genius bars at the live events which were a particular success, and critical for recruiting an army of early adopters. With 12,000 colleagues at these events, and with over 6000 interactions on the platform that day, it was not difficult to persuade the senior teams that this sort of communication was a good thing for the business. The challenge was really whether we could sustain it.”
Keeping up momentum
MOVE has only been live for three months (since March this year) and early success has surpassed all expectations. There are currently c10,000 active users and the aim is to get to 20,000 by the end of the first year.
A team of 20 community managers – who also look after the intranet – are responsible for championing MOVE in the business so there is quite a lot for them to do. For now, most content is produced from Jim’s team (70%) although the plan is to increase the amount of user generated content as people feel more empowered to write for the new platform. Colleagues are encouraged to write for MOVE first, and then material can be repurposed for the intranet or email.
A team of 20 community managers – who also look after the intranet – are responsible for championing MOVE in the business so there is quite a lot for them to do. For now, most content is produced by central teams (70%) although the plan is to increase the amount of user generated content as people feel more empowered to write for the new platform. Colleagues are encouraged to write for MOVE first, and then material can be repurposed for the intranet or email.
Jim again: “Competitions have been really successful in building participation and our branch- based colleagues have been particularly keen to embrace it. We are continuing to experiment with headlines, adapting tone and language and looking closely at the analytics that can tell us who engages with what type of content and when.”
“There will always be a certain amount of content that our colleagues have to know, but it’s clear that there is an appetite for less serious stuff too. We want to introduce more video and audio files for example, but as the app is not compulsory and relies on individuals’ own data plans, we will monitor this carefully. So far, we are not seeing people drop off.
“As well as exploring in more detail how to segment and target messages depending on location or seniority for example, we will also be experimenting with greater personalisation so that colleagues choose the channels and content they wish to follow. Having said that, I’m mindful of the fact that too much personalisation may reinforce the silos that tools like this are designed to overcome, so there’s a balance to be struck!”
One word of advice?
“We went in to this project with a ‘test and learn’ approach and on what we have seen in the first three months, I’d say we could have taken more creative risks from the start! But a word of advice to anyone embarking on a similar project, ‘Get IT involved right at the outset. Although it’s an app, it is still an enterprise platform and it would be much easier to get your integrations on the table at the beginning rather than deal with them retrospectively.’”