The British Gas ‘Story’ – A Case Study

 

This week is national storytelling week* and we’ve promised to share with you some of our favourite examples of organisations getting their ‘stories’ right for employees.

This example from British Gas is an oldie, but a goodie – it’s a great example of a strong strategic narrative at work.

Back in 2009, British Gas rolled out a fantastic internal comms campaign called ‘All On The Same Page”.  This project featured a successful ‘big picture’ story, communicated in a visual and engaging way.

Case Study: All On The Same Page

Having gone through a major transformation project, British Gas made the decision to bring parts of their business together, that had previously run independently. This decision meant British Gas became a single organisation of 27,000 people, working under a new, single shared vision, set of values, strategy and brand promise.

It became evident that this was a huge leap for many employees, who suddenly had to work towards a ‘One British Gas’ strategy.  This, combined together with the scale and speed of day-to-day operational change, posed a significant and urgent communication and engagement challenge.  People needed to understand what was happening, and more importantly – what it meant for them.

The solution

The ‘All On The Same Page’ programme was developed and delivered in a 10-week timeframe to respond to this challenge.

The objectives were agreed amongst key stakeholders as:

1. To help people understand the ‘One British Gas’ vision, values, strategy and brand promise.

2. Clarify the role and position of those who had not previously seen themselves as being within the ‘One British Gas’ family.

3. Help people understand the part they played in these changes and drive the behaviour changes required to make ‘One British Gas’ a success.

4. Involve and engage employees in the approach.

5. Measure the success of programme in terms of:

a) Movement against the Engagement Curve.

b) Employee Engagement (measured using the Hewitt Commitment Score – an existing survey tool used by British Gas).

c) Customer Satisfaction (Net Promoter Score (NPS) – the industry standard measure for customer satisfaction).

The big picture

A visual story was created, to bring the ‘big picture’ to life for employees. Developed with a design agency, this formed the ‘hub’ of the All on the Same Page programme – translating strategic thinking into an accessible, visual image.  This provided a useful tool for the management community to use, with the British Gas brand at the centre of the ‘big picture.’

To ensure that the visual story was accepted (and used), a series of stakeholder management sessions were held, with central communications, marketing and commercial functions. Getting ownership for translating the strategy into intended behaviour change was a critical part of the programme.

People Lab helped to design solutions to ensure the project was more than simply delivering messages, and resulted in changing behaviour and increasing engagement.

We worked with three groups of people to increase engagement skills and understanding of the “All on the Same Page” project and messages.

  • Firstly, we worked with a group of champions, training them to support the programme. But their role went beyond that – they also helped to implement the Engagement Survey, and create action plans from the results.
  • Secondly, a regular senior manager meeting was turned into an All On The Same Page event. Senior managers heard their leader deliver the big picture story, and then spent time getting to grips with it themselves.
  • Thirdly, team leaders attended a half-day workshop and worked through the big picture messaging and the All On The Same Page programme. Most importantly, they addressed their own engagement and worked on ways to engage their team. This was new for many attendees, and paved the way for the introduction of employee engagement representative sessions.

Having built these foundations, we then delivered the Touchpoint sessions. 1,200 people attended 12 sessions, across 6 days. The sessions were highly interactive and used the big picture as the central theme. The event started with a heritage corridor as an entrance device, ensuring people were immersed in the British Gas story from the moment they arrived.

Following this, the event featured teamwork exercises on the brand promise, and a values workshop (where teams created youtube style videos). A ‘star wall’ was used later in the day, for attendees to contribute ideas for making the changes they wanted to see happen.

Each strand of the Touchpoint event agenda was used to sustain energy and dialogue, to keep the focus on the longer-term behaviour changes needed. This included a youtube video site, which hosted the top 6 employee-produced videos from the events. Colleagues could vote for and comment on contributions. We also turned the star wall event item into a full-blown suggestion scheme, and developed the ‘big picture’ and brand promise messages into a workbook. Team leaders then used these books with their teams, as a way of reinforcing and discussing key messages.

Outcomes

We used the commitment curve (awareness, understanding, involvement and commitment) to develop questions that would track colleague mindset, as well as measuring their understanding. The same question set was used in July and September, to provide pre- and post-programme measurement. Colleagues were asked to rank statements from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The percentages shown below represent the strongly agree and agree responses.

Touchpoint measurement

‘I have received sufficient information about why we formed One British Gas’ – increased from 68% to 89%

‘I know what the British Gas vision is’ – increased from 74% to 93%

‘I understand the business rationale for the change’ – increased from 57% to 87%

‘I understand the part I play in making One British Gas a success’ – increased from 82% to 96%

‘I could explain the vision and values to a colleague’ – increased from 44% to 82%

‘I am aware of how my work affects company performance’ increased from 75% to 96%

‘This company inspires me to do my best work every day – increased from 61% to 74%

Net Promoter Score

Increased from -14% to +28 in one year.

We fulfilled each of the three strategy strands:

  • we gained strong leaders support for the All On The Same Page approach and developed a very strong story, which was central to achieving clarity for Premier people
  • we enabled leaders to become stronger communicators
  • we put in place the foundations for change through the interaction of the Touchpoint events, combined with the engagement representatives’ role of getting commitment to change

The Net Promoter Score shows that the work had a clear business outcome  –  the benefits of engaging with colleagues were passed directly on to customers.

Our programme measurement showed very positive movement on all the criteria we agreed with the management team at the outset of the programme.

And finally, we helped the organisation get employees ‘all on the same page’!

If you’d like advice on developing your strategic narrative, or would like to hear about how we could help you with employee engagement, why not get in touch for a no-obligation conversation today? Contact us here.

 

*27th Jan – 3rd Feb 2017

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