The Guardian Group of companies is a leading financial services organization in the Caribbean and has been established for over 165 years.
Their underlying businesses operate in Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica and the Dutch Caribbean, with agencies and brokers across the Eastern Caribbean, the Bahamas and the US Virgin Islands. The group’s workforce of 2,800 is distributed across multiple locations.
In July 2013 Guardian underwent a corporate rebranding initiative, where while retaining the individual operating companies, the constituent businesses were all repositioned in their respective markets as a single brand.
Ranuca Hamlet is the Group Internal Communications Manager and is accountable for managing communication with employees and agents across the individual companies and countries in the region.
She was heavily involved in the rebranding initiative, which kicked off in 2012, and her responsibilities included explaining to the global workforce the rationale for the rebrand, gathering feedback about it, fostering employee engagement with the new brand and building excitement about its launch.
Hamlet faced a number of challenges in communicating with Guardian’s employees.
In particular, communicating with nine previously independent businesses spread across a number of countries and speaking three different languages (English, Dutch and Papiamento). Hamlet had no single tool that would enable her to communicate across all the different territories.
Field-based staff working remotely had limited access to email. Email servers on the same network were only operational in the businesses in English-speaking locations (Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Jamaica), whereas the businesses in the Dutch Caribbean (Curaçao, Bonaire, Aruba and Sint Maarten) were operating different email platforms. Hamlet was keen that the group reduce reliance on internal email as both managers and staff struggled with managing the volume of emails they receive.
In addition, to retrieve company emails field-based staff had to go to a shared facility at a Guardian office, access the network and download emails. This often resulted in information not being seen on a timely basis.
Engaging a physically and culturally distributed workforce was another significant challenge. Hamlet found that employees were more connected to the local business brands they worked for rather than seeing themselves as members of a larger group.
It was vital that the solution implemented gave her the ability to communicate the group’s new vision, mission and values in a consistent and engaging way. She also needed to ensure that communications did not come across as “Trini-centric” (Trinidad being the location of the group Head Office) or come across as imposing to employees.
The new communication tools introduced needed to be easy to implement and manage across multiple locations.
In July 2012 Guardian implemented four of the SnapComms communication channels. Instrumental in her choice was the fact that she could deploy the tools immediately and would have no ongoing reliance on her IT department to administer them.
Desktop tickers newsfeed-style scrolling text provide fast delivery and high visibility.
Desktop alerts ensure high impact to get employee attention immediately, on any device type.
Digital internal newsletters are a rich multimedia tool for internal communication.
A staff survey provides an easy way for staff to anonymously submit their feedback or suggestions.
The ability for Hamlet to send messages to all employees or to segment her internal audience by physical location and business unit has ensured that the communications she sends are relevant as well as timely. This is managed seamlessly because the SnapComms platform allows Guardian’s user group structures to be replicated within the SnapComms Content Manager.
One of the main uses of the tools has been collating employee feedback. With the corporate rebranding for example, Hamlet was able to follow up the various briefing events with surveys and quizzes which captured how well the company achieved its communication goals.
Once the initial survey was set up, she was able to refine and resend it to different employee groups. When the survey was completed, she had the flexibility to drill down into the data by territory or department. “The beauty of it is that I have to spend zero time collecting the data.”
Hamlet has been pleasantly surprised by the fact that the SnapComms software delivers on its promise and really is as easy to use as it’s claimed.
“It's really living up to that advertising and I am delighted that I'm getting the results. I'm able to use tools and communicate to all the regions that we operate in.”
Most employees have responded positively to receiving information through the SnapComms communication channels, seeing it as a progressive and simple way to be kept informed.