Service NSW

Leaders asking questions and listening to employees to deliver a better service

Service NSW is a government agency whose leadership team listens to employees on Workplace, asks questions to learn from frontline workers and ultimately delivers a better service to the citizens of New South Wales. Service NSW was one of the top performers in SWOOP’s 2019 Global Benchmarking of Workplace networks.

Walk into a Service NSW Service Centre and you could find yourself being greeted by the CEO.

Damon Rees, CEO, Service NSW

Any time, any day, you may come across an executive, a director or a head office staff member doing the day-to-day jobs of frontline teams. You probably won’t notice them because they will be wearing a Service NSW uniform, they will have received training and they’ll look like any other employee there.

It’s part of an initiative where all executive leaders at Service NSW spend a day with their frontline teams.

The program is the brainchild of an employee in response to a question asked on Workplace by Service NSW chief executive officer Damon Rees.

Damon posted on the agency’s Workplace network asking if anyone had ideas how senior leaders could be more attentive. It was a question in response to an annual employee engagement survey which found the 3,000 staff at the New South Wales government agency wanted more attentive listening from leadership.

“How can senior managers listen more attentively to your ideas and concerns? What channels can we use and how often? Please share your thoughts below!” Damon asked on Workplace.

People started commenting with all kinds of suggestions, said Juliette Peshevski, Internal Communications Manager at Service NSW.

“One of the ideas was to shadow people for one day, or ‘Come and do my job’,” Juliette said.

“The CEO saw it, he liked it and now it’s happening.

“An initiative was created and now it’s a project. Not only the CEO but all executive leadership members had to do it, and any employees can now experience a day with the frontline team.”

The new initiative was an example of the power of a leader listening to his employees, learning from them and responding with action. Without a tool like Workplace, these across-the-board conversations cannot occur.

Some of Service NSW’s executive leadership team in customer-facing roles.

What is Service NSW?

Service NSW is state government agency in NSW, Australia’s most populous state. It was created in March 2013 and is a one-stop-shop to access government services for people and businesses across NSW.

Service NSW’s mission is to transform transactional services through excellent customer service and effective partnerships. Although Service NSW’s focus is on driving digital adoption and digital transactions, it is also committed to its face-to-face and telephone customer service offerings.

The services are available online, in person and over the phone, setting a new standard for customer service in government with 97 per cent customer satisfaction. Service NSW has 3,000 employees scattered across the state delivering services to customers and businesses through a network of 98 Service Centres, 32 Council agencies, six self-serve digital kiosks, a Contact Centre, four Mobile Service Centres (buses), a transactional website and the Service NSW mobile app.

Launching Workplace

Service NSW needed a tool with the potential to deliver huge benefits to Service NSW in how staff connect, communicate and collaborate.

Juliette Peshevski, Internal Communications Manager, Service NSW

“Workplace was the logical next step for us as an organisation, being at the front of everything digital,” Juliette said.

“And it was also a way to give leaders visibility.”

It was also appealing to Service NSW’s frontline teams because it was similar to the social media they were using in their personal lives.

“Many don’t work in front of a computer so they don’t have time during the day to check their emails so I think on a mobile phone it’s easy for them to connect quickly on Workplace and check what has been happening during the day,” Juliette said.

In December 2017, about 100 Service NSW employees joined a general NSW government Workplace group for six months to get a taste if Workplace could work for the agency. These 100 employees became Workplace champions, learning how to facilitate groups and engage on the platform.

In June 2018, a dedicated Service NSW Workplace network was launched to all employees.

“We launched it to everyone and really quickly everyone was on Workplace and our CEO and executive leaders from the start were on Workplace, communicating on Workplace, doing videos on Workplace, commenting,” Juliette said.

From the start, SWOOP showed engagement levels at an impressive 80 per cent.

Juliette said because many employees are in regional and sometimes remote areas, they embraced Workplace as a way to connect and communicate. Managers had a platform to communicate with all their staff, regardless of their location, and began doing regular updates and videos.

“Workplace worked well because from the start there was an appetite for everyone to communicate, recognise team members and share successes and best practices. The executive leadership team are great advocates,” Juliette said.

“We are trying to reduce the number of emails we send and instead share information on Workplace.

“Our CEO and executive leadership team were convinced it was the way to go for our organisation and really pushed Workplace at the launch. That’s also why we managed to do it in record time.”

Helping leaders engage with SWOOP

Service NSW used SWOOP from the early days after it was recommended by other NSW government departments who were SWOOP customers.

While Damon and other executives were leading the charge by engaging on Workplace, not all leaders were as enthusiastic.

Juliette used SWOOP to benchmark Service NSW leaders and show them their SWOOP Persona, advising they should be Engagers or Catalysts.

“Our executive leadership team here is really engaged and is on Workplace using it a lot and they want to know the impact they’re having,” Juliette said.

Benchmarking leaders with SWOOP also revealed those who needed some nudging to connect with staff.

Less emails and newsletters

Before Workplace, one executive leader would send a lengthy monthly newsletter with updates from her department. She oversees about 2,000 staff so the email would literally be sent to thousands of staff.

Since Workplace was introduced, she has ditched her long, monthly emails in favour of fortnightly videos. SWOOP shows the engagement rates for these videos are soaring.

“She goes to different locations every two weeks and she talks to the frontline teams, she does different interviews each fortnight and those videos are working really well,” Juliette said.

“So we stopped the newsletters and now Jody does a Workplace post instead and it gets really good engagement.”

Some of Service NSW’s executive leadership team assisting frontline teams during peak periods.

Business value

Service NSW is focused on delivering a better service for its customers, the citizens of NSW.

Juliette said that is achieved by better communication and collaboration. She said as soon as someone is posting an idea, concern or comment on Workplace, action is being taken.

“As soon as there is that kind of comment on Workplace, the CEO or an executive director will type and say; ‘Hey, what can we do about that?’,” Juliette said.

“The next day we have project teams set up and two weeks later issues are being addressed. Service NSW is a really fast-paced organisation. Workplace has been amazing in terms of showing what’s needed to be done.

“When someone is saying something and then the executive leaders directly comment and are tagging one of the leaders and saying; ‘What can we do about this?’ you know that the problem will be resolved. It’s amazing.”

Recognising great work

Without a tool like Workplace, many success stories at work are lost. Workplace gives employees a platform to be recognised and allows others to learn from their stories.

At Service NSW, customers can book an hour-long “Cost of Living” appointment where they learn what rebates they are eligible to claim. After a successful consultation one day, a proud employee posted on Workplace how much they had saved a family and explained how it was done.

It took off like wildfire, Juliette said. Everyone was posting how much they had saved customers and how they did it. Staff were really proud and grateful to be able to ease the cost of living of the customers.

“There were a lot of photos showing how much they saved and then they posted it on Workplace,” Juliette said.

“They were so happy to post this because it’s so good for them to do something so positive during their work day. It’s very rewarding.

“We’ve got lots of good stories to tell so I think Workplace works well for us because staff are really proud of what we do every day.”

There is also a monthly employee recognition program and a yearly awards event recognising the best of the best employees.

All monthly winners are invited to the CEO Awards Night in Sydney, where overall yearly winners are announced.

During the awards night, lots of photos and video were taken and posted on Workplace.

“People were tagging colleagues and there was lots of engagement,” Juliette said.

“We saw on SWOOP the #CEOAwards2018 was one of the most used hashtags during the year and there was a big spike in engagement in mid-November due to the CEO awards night.”

Delivering a better service for customers

Juliette said employees use Workplace to ask questions regarding new services and they can receive immediate answers.

“Being able to instantly resolve an issue, at the end of the day, it’s a benefit for the customer and the employees. It helps us achieve what we need very quickly,” she said.

“It’s been a life changer for everyone in terms of connection and collaboration.”

It’s more of the collaboration that Service NSW is focused on achieving on Workplace in 2019.

“That’s what’s next for us, to go from a communication tool to a real collaboration tool for everyone,” Juliette said.

Contact SWOOP now if you would like a free trial to help your Workplace community become better and faster at collaborating.

Download SWOOP’s 2019 global benchmarking report of Workplace networks, the world’s largest analysis of Workplace communities.


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