Putting people first: how Tate & Lyle connected employees through the pandemic

For most companies around the world, the lockdown last year sparked a rise in digital workplace adoption. And Tate & Lyle, the global food and beverage ingredients and solutions supplier, was no exception.

In March 2020, the company already had plans in place to roll out  Microsoft Teams to kick start their ‘Better Ways of Working’ programme. Intended as a phased roll-out, the Tate & Lyle ISIT teams, with support from the comms team, had a six-month plan to gradually roll-out and train employees to use Teams.

Alissa Clarke, Tate & Lyle’s Global Head of Internal Communications, told us that the pandemic had been ‘a massive catalyst for getting it done really quickly’ as our ISIT partners worked to provide immediate access for everyone in the business.

With around 4,500 colleagues working in more than 60 locations and 30 countries worldwide, this wasn’t an easy task, but the company had already proved its crisis communications to be spot on.

From the beginning of the pandemic, the company’s leadership team set out to ensure their people were ‘safe and healthy’ with specially formulated groups of site pandemic coordinators and a global pandemic team.

What followed was keeping their people ‘connected and productive’ with swift access to technology and IT support, regular communication and connection opportunities, and visible and compassionate leadership.

A five-phase approach

The Tate & Lyle internal comms team, now led by Alissa, switched gears on their internal communication strategy early on to support and direct employees throughout the pandemic.

Phase one

The first phase was to act early, helping colleagues to understand the company’s three key priorities, which were:

  1. Keeping people safe and connected
  2. Keeping the business running
  3. Keeping customers served and community partners supported so they can continue to feed the world well

The most important and proactive part of this phase was that employees were made aware of travel restrictions and a plan was put into place before Covid-19 was declared a pandemic.

A global business, Tate & Lyle’s site-based manufacturing colleagues were given amended schedules and office-based staff transitioned into working from home. This change was supported by weekly update emails from the CEO, Nick Hampton, to update teams with key information.

Phase two

Once the groundwork was laid, the second phase focused on the deployment of  Teams, which was on the company’s radar long before the pandemic began. With the aim to get people connected, an accelerated roll-out was completed in just nine weeks by the ISIT team, meaning that by April, all employees had started communicating with each other in a  new way.

Teams was intended to be useful for employees across the Tate & Lyle business, including leaders, who benefited from the launch of a ‘Global Leaders’ chat group, which worked alongside monthly business updates via Teams calls.

With the advancement in tech for the company, it was key for improved communication that the intranet was updated at the same time – this was put together in the form of an ‘intranet hub’ to include the most important information, such as contact details and Covid-19 updates.

Want to know more? simplycommunity members can read the full case study here. Not a member but would like to be? Join us!


Laura Riaz

Laura Riaz is simply’s content creator. With a strong background in copywriting and social media management, she thoroughly enjoys writing about the wonders of internal comms.

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