How Workplace is influencing company culture at AMP NZ

AMP New Zealand kicked off its Workplace network when the CEO sent an all company email saying this was his last email of the kind, it’s time to head to Workplace. Two years later, he remains the most influential person on the network, listening to his employees, asking them questions and cheering them on. Workplace has become a place where employees share their stories, recognise their colleagues and it’s influencing company culture.

AMP New Zealand (AMP) is a leading financial services company specialising in retirement savings and wealth management. It is one of New Zealand’s largest KiwiSaver providers and serves almost 600,000 customers directly as well as through the country’s most extensive and diverse network of financial advisers.

Launching Workplace from the top

AMP was one of the first companies in New Zealand to start using Workplace back in 2017. Ben Mabon, Communications Manager at AMP, said there was a heavy reliance on broadcast email communications, weekly newsletters and an old intranet.

Ben Mabon, Communications Manager, AMP NZ.

He said AMP, like many businesses, relied on traditional channels and ways of managing internal communications, like broadcast emails or email newsletters.

“In that situation, the content you’re sending is often ‘old news’ by the time it goes out and there’s no easy way for people to provide feedback or to ask questions,” Ben said.

“You’re also relying on just a few people in the business to know what’s going on and to curate content, and that means there’s always going to be amazing content that never gets shared.”

In late 2016, Ben read a news article about another Kiwi company using Workplace and began investigating it.

Around the same time, Blair Vernon was appointed the new CEO for AMP and he supported the concept of Workplace.

After a small pilot, Workplace was launched to the company.

“The CEO sent out an email saying; ‘This is it, this is the last email you’re going to get from me. If you want to know what’s going on, get onto Workplace’,” Ben said.

Blair Vernon, CEO, AMP NZ.

“That was it and the rest is history. We basically just shut off broadcast email and other digital internal communications channels. We shifted everything onto Workplace. We thought if it worked, and people liked it, we’d stick with it.”

Ben said Blair, the CEO, immediately recognised the real benefit of Workplace and how it would improve communication, collaboration and engagement with AMP’s people.

“When you’ve got a CEO who fundamentally believes in the importance of quality communication and collaboration and embraces and encourages new ways of doing things, then it gives you a mandate to go forward and make good things happen,” he said.

Not all embraced Workplace from the start

Workplace was launched to all 550 employees and all have now claimed their account. But in the early days, not everyone embraced it.

The transition to an enterprise social network was a shock for those who had been reliant on emails for communications for decades.

However, Ben said the appeal of the network was its familiarity to Facebook, that it was a straight forward, simple-to-use platform, and right away people could see the clear advantages and applications it had over other channels.

“It’s such an easy way to communicate and engage with people, whether it’s people leaders connecting with their teams who are spread out across different locations, running projects, to managing day-to-day team activities, recognizing employees and everything in between,” he said.

“All of a sudden, you weren’t relying on comms people to search out stories and news and tell you what was going on – everyone had the ability start sharing, which was fantastic.”

The business benefit of social groups

Ben said one aspect he hadn’t considered was the social connections formed from Workplace.

“All of a sudden we had people connecting, even in the same office, who hadn’t connected before, to arrange to go mountain biking on the weekend and that sort of thing,” he said.

“It just opened up a lot of these other possibilities that didn’t exist before.”

Keeping employees engaged

SWOOP data shows the majority of engagement with AMP’s posts occurs within the first 60 minutes, which Ben says shows him employees are active and engaged.

In general, most posts are seen by most people in the business.

Ben said with time, people have figured out where is the best place is to post, how to post, what’s the best way to formulate a post and they have come up with snappy headlines and catchy images.

“We’ve seen in the past 12 months lots of people start to use video as well,” he said.

“They’re actually thinking about what they’re posting to make it interesting and relevant, which has been great to see that evolution. So much better than long emails that no one reads, and of course, the beauty is that people choose which groups they belong to so they’re only seeing content which is relevant and useful.”

SWOOP shows Blair is the Most Influential Person on AMP’s network. He is interacting with posts, responding and commenting.

Ben said the executive team is also quite strong on Workplace, while there is a mix within the senior leader group, with some incredibly active and others needing support, something the communications team will use SWOOP to help work with this year.

“For the general employee population, Workplace is where it’s all happening, which is fantastic,” Ben said.

“It’s great to be seen on there, it’s great to have the ability to interact with everybody across the business, no matter what level you’re at, people are posting content and the CEO and others are engaging with it.”

Organic evolution of the network

Ben said when Workplace was launched in 2017, there was no real structure other than the creation of a main announcement group, news groups and individual business unit groups.

Otherwise, it was left to evolve organically, with no prescription on setting up groups.

“It was a great way to build engagement with the platform and let people have a bit of a play and figure out what worked,” he said.

By the end of the first year, there were quite a few groups that were no longer being used and were therefore culled.

Tips were shared on how to get the most out of Workplace.

The AMP Main Announcements groups was locked down after three months and limited to the executive to post; “because people were considering all sorts of things ‘critical’”.

Ben said they limited access to posting in the AMP Announcements group to preserve it as the main place where employees could go to find important news and information.

Identifying success with SWOOP

AMP has been using SWOOP for more than a year now. One innovative way it uses the data from SWOOP is to present Workplace awards for top performing individuals, teams and groups.

“Based on the data we were able to pull from SWOOP we ran Workplace awards,” Ben said.

A post on AMP NZ’s Workplace network about the 2018 Workplace Awards.

“Through that we were able to highlight and promote some of the great ways Workplace had been used during the previous 12 months and give people some examples and hopefully encourage them to think about how they might use it this year.”

One of the individual winners was Jo Fleming, Head of AMP’s Contact Centre, who does daily updates on Workplace for her team, which is scattered across the country.

Workplace was the cornerstone of a recent presentation Jo shared at a contact centre conference, highlighting it as a game changer for shaping an engaged, customer-centric culture and driving results across multiple sites.

Jo’s updates are usually videos in which she acknowledges the previous day’s successes, or she will address the area of focus for the day, share feedback from customers or talk about things that might be happening in the broader industry or in the media that could have an impact.

“They are always interesting and different and funny and serious and she gets great engagement on there,” Ben said.

“That is a post that receives good engagement and where people will ask questions and also it’s great because you will see people acknowledging some of the comments and feedback within that post.”

AMP Award winners with CEO Blair Vernon.

AMP is now exploring the idea of encouraging every employee to access SWOOP to see their individual data, as well as that of their groups and the enterprise.

Ben says it would encourage people to consider how they present on Workplace and help them find ways to use it more effectively.

SWOOP is used by AMP to produce monthly reports monitoring usage of the platform, engagements, trending topics and themes and the most active groups.

Ben said others can learn from what works with the most active groups, while the comms team can work with the less active groups to improve engagement.

“It’s a great way also for us to be able to use some of the data through SWOOP to go and have conversations with teams,” he said.

Benchmarking leaders with SWOOP to drive engagement

December 2018 was the first time AMP’s leaders were benchmarked on SWOOP, but Ben said it will now become a regular part of reporting.

“They are a critical group for us to continue to work closely with in terms of driving engagement on the platform,” he said.

“It’s that senior leader group that has such an important role in encouraging people to use the platform in leading ways, so making sure that they have a strong presence on Workplace, that makes it okay for their teams to engage on there as well.”

The business value of Workplace

Ben said the obvious business value of Workplace is the company-wide collaboration and engagement.

“Every day there are dozens and dozens and dozens of stories that come out of Workplace and many are stories that we may never ever hear about otherwise,” he said.

“We’ve got people in our claims area posting stories of customer engagements where they’ve been dealing with some particularly tough situations and just how grateful the customer has been.”

The customer service team use Workplace every day to post extraordinary stories and project teams share their stories of success on Workplace.

“Previously, many of those sorts of stories would not necessarily have surfaced or be widely shared, and that’s a missed opportunity to recognise many of the great things going on across the business and for other teams to learn and benefit from those experiences,” Ben said.

The other substantial benefit of Workplace is the mobile app, which means everyone can get updates, send messages and check Workplace on the go.

“Thankfully we haven’t had to put it to the test, but the mobile app would also be a gamechanger in a crisis situation,” Ben said.

Changing company culture

As people post their stories and experiences, and others comment and like them, Ben said it creates a “great positive vibe and engagement”.

Ben Mabon, Communications Manager at AMP (left), and Nathaniel Johnson, AMP’s Digital Communications Adviser.

“I think it’s appropriate that Workplace can also be used to challenge and to have some of those tougher conversations in a very transparent and open way because everybody in the business can join that conversation as well,” he said.

“It’s not just a site where we’re promoting all the amazing stuff that’s going on because the reality is that sometimes there are things we can do better or we can improve and Workplace is a great forum for us to be able to have those sorts of conversations to canvass the views of people right across the business.

“That has obvious flow on benefits for our customers and other stakeholders.”

Looking ahead

In the next 12-18 months, AMP’s Workplace network will begin introducing bots and integrations like OneDrive potentially, which Ben expects will get employees excited and continue to keep them engaged, whilst also making it easier for them to stay connected and do their jobs

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