A marketing manager describes how an intranet helped unite 11 offices.

A workplace united

Company: Huntress Group

Business: Recruiting

Interviewee: Beatrice Bailey, Marketing Manager and Sophie Hitchcock, Marketing Assistant at Huntress Group

Challenge: A new CEO wanted to unite 11 isolated branches of the company.

Level of participation: 92% weekly, 100% monthly.

I spoke with Beatriz and Sophie last month. They told me about how their new CEO and their new intranet have helped them pull the various isolated branches of their company into a single, collaborative whole, with a shared culture. Many of you will relate to their challenges. What follows is a transcript of our discussion.

Deb:
Tell me a bit about Huntress.

Beatriz:
We’re a UK-based recruitment business, with 30 offices around the country. I joined Huntress just a month ago. Jostle was already working and it’s been really good for me just to come in and see all the great stuff that we’re already achieving. Originally, when Jostle was brought into the business, it was to bring the whole business together. Traditionally, Huntress hadn’t really been able to communicate very well internally. The communication just wasn’t there so a lot of people felt quite isolated if they weren’t in the headquarters in London.

Deb:
How were you communicating prior to using Jostle?

Sophie:
Mainly by email. We did have an intranet as part of our previous website, but it was static and not heavily used. We’ve also got an internal database that was rolled out to half of the business. It was meant to be rolled out to everybody, but we had so many teething problems with it that it never ended up being rolled out. We needed some other way of communicating across the whole business and for things like cross-selling and across our departments, and things like that.

Beatriz:
There just wasn’t that level of engagement that we wanted. In March this year we brought a new CEO on board, Chris, who has radically changed the culture and has a new vision for the company. That was the main reason we brought in Jostle’s Intranet.

A lot of his vision is around our company values. We really, really wanted to instill that within the company and get everybody singing off the same choir sheet, really, so that we’re all on the same page and we’re working together and have that level of engagement with everybody that just wasn’t there before.

Deb:
Tell me a little bit about the culture before the new CEO.

Beatriz:
Every branch pretty much worked as its own little business, so even though we’re all part of the same company, everybody had their own marketing initiatives, training was done at branch levels, so everything was diluted.

Sophie:
In terms of the sales teams and the back office staff, there was a big divide between them – a bit of a “them and us”. We found that there was the perception internally that the salespeople were getting treated better or even just getting more recognition.

It was just a feeling that back office felt very left out, because obviously with a sales-based company you’re going to be singing the successes of those people who have brought in sales. There were a lot of unsung heroes who were doing really good work in the background, but weren’t getting the credit they deserved.

Deb:
Tell me about the new CEO. What’s he trying to do now? What’s his vision?

Beatriz:
His vision is mainly just to get us all on the same page, to have the same sort of business proposal coming from the entire business, and make sure that we’re communicating as one business and we’re not just selling, We have three separate specializations within our company.

We specialize in office support, IT, and accounting and finance. They have tended to work quite independently and only sold their own area of the business. Now, as part of that vision, we want to cross-sell because every customer will need all of those functions at some point.

Jostle has really allowed us to help communicate that and clarify just how we can communicate to our customers as one business and with one voice.

Deb:
I understand that there’s a set of values your team has put together?

Sophie:
Yeah. Again, this all came into fruition when Chris, our CEO, started in March. We have five values: ambition, teamwork, integrity, accountability, and investing in relationships.

Something else that also was very much a feeling before Chris started was that things were decided by senior level staff or by random groups of people and no one else was involved. Jostle has given us the opportunity to get everybody involved in all core decisions. Not only Jostle has given us the opportunity, but Chris has embraced that as a CEO. So those values were actually chosen by the people who work here. We own them. Everyone who works here owns those values.

Deb:
How did you get that kind of participation?

Sophie:
The way we did it was through a survey through SurveyMonkey. We’d gone around and we’d asked people for certain words that they felt embodied us as a company and then from those words, I think we had like twelve or fifteen words overall, it was opened up to everybody to choose which ones they wanted to be the five key values.

Deb:
How do you live them on a daily basis?

Beatriz:
Essentially, it’s still a work in progress because Chris only joined in March, but as they were chosen by everyone we then went through a process of figuring out what they actually mean for our business so they have actually become the core of how we conduct our business with our customers, but also how we work together as a company.

Jostle is a big part of that, obviously. It’s just constant reminders and little updates, not just from Marketing, but from HR and everybody else within the business now recognizes those values and they shout-out their team members when someone has done something specifically lived those values.

Deb:
Are senior managers embracing Jostle and these new values as well?

Sophie:
Yes – senior management is getting into it now and when they’re using Jostle’s shout-outs about their teams or about other teams – and they are dropping those key words, those value words, into their shout-outs as well. That’s good.

Beatriz:
They’ve definitely embraced it and they really, really like all the functionality and being able to… They also shout-out their own team to the rest of the business, so they’re actually really proud of their own team’s achievements. It just generates that kind of healthy competition throughout the teams, which is quite nice as well.

Deb:
Can you measure the impact of Jostle on your team?

Beatriz:
The use of Jostle is very plain to see, just our stats. I think when we spoke to Jessica last week we’ve had over 85% engagement consistently.

Deb:
Is that a week or a month?

Beatriz:
I think it’s per week. It just hasn’t gone below 85%. Definitely its because of all the mentions of the values from all the people who either do shout-outs or updates … We’ve been able to drive our CSR policy through there and we’re engaging people not just with work stuff but baking competitions and all sorts of things like that. There’s a real social side to it as well and just the sheer amount of shout-outs we have every day. That’s just how we measure it. It’s really encouraging to see all of that activity on there.

Sophie:
I think the key thing about Jostle it’s so easy to use, there are people who perhaps are on our more computer-phobic side but are still actually willing to approach us and go, “Oh, can I post a news story?” and “Oh, how do I upload something to the library?” And everybody seems to be quite up for trying it and these are the people that are traditionally quite frightened of pushing themselves on the more technical side.

Deb:
Well done. You said something about cross-selling and making sure that what had been independent little businesses actually act against one business. Are you seeing some progress there in terms of acting more as a team, seeing some of the relationship between sales and back office and amongst and between the different offices, are you seeing some progress there?

Beatriz:
Yeah, definitely. There are some initiatives that have been put in place in terms of rewards across the link, but aside from that we are definitely seeing more engagement. A lot of it is driven initially from marketing, so we have a lot of guides on how they should do something or how they should fulfill a particular process to ensure that they’re fulfilling best practice. Because all of those documents can be uploaded and then we announce that they’re on there for people to access, we can make sure that everybody is accessing the same processes and the same sort of sales tools that they are converging rather than reinventing them their own.

Deb:
You’re eliminating some redundancy in your documentation and in your processes?

Beatriz:
Absolutely. Yeah. It’s really, really helpful for that because everybody knows that they have to access their tools and everything from Jostle. It’s one platform for the whole business.

Deb:
Any feedback that you have gotten from your field, from your employees, or from your leadership?

Sophie:
Regarding Jostle, it’s been unanimously popular.

Beatriz:
We’ve had really good feedback both from senior members of the staff and people at all levels within the business. Really, really positive feedback. They absolutely loved it all. They really love the social side of it. Obviously they would, but just from our point of view from Marketing and Internal Communications, it’s invaluable to us as a communication platform.

Sophie:
Even really silly things like somebody on one of the teams didn’t hit a target so they made them go out on the street and sing Titanic, My Heart Will Go On in the middle of the road, in London, as a forfeit.

I would never have known about that episode, even though I’m in the same office as those people. But they uploaded a picture of it to Jostle and the whole business knew that that happened.

But then that started a whole conversation and it also introduced the two people who did the forfeit, who were quite new. It introduced them to everybody. The loading of the photos, I think in this culture that we have now where everybody lives on Instagram and Facebook, actually being able to visualize what’s happening in a branch or for example, if they’re going to a special lunch reward at The Shard and they can upload a photo of it, it really helps to bring people together and make people feel like they’re a part of it.

Deb:
I’m so extremely glad that I was able to have this conversation with you. I find your story of turning around from a bunch of little separate offices into one whole organization … I think that’s inspiring for a lot of people. You guys are facing a lot of challenges that are really common to many other organizations and it sounds like you’re doing a fantastic job. And it looks like you’re having some fun, too.

Beatriz:
We’re definitely having fun.