Montgomery Watson Harza wins award for communication strategy

Personnel
Today Awards 2001: The winner of the totaljobs.com award for communication
strategy was the programme management team from Montgomery Watson Harza. HR
manager: Dominic Kirkbride.

What
they did

In
January 2000, environmental engineering consultancy Montgomery Watson secured a
five-year contract with United Utilities (formerly North West Water) to deliver
solutions in order that the utility could meet a series of stricter water
quality and environmental regulatory requirements. As part of this, the
consultancy had to manage the transfer of 250 employees from the previous
provider and merge different cultures and values into one company.

To
smooth the transition MWH came up with a communication strategy that would keep
employees informed throughout the merger. Individual meetings were held for the
entire 365 employees to allay any concerns they may have had and this was
followed up with a second meeting. A set of core values and a performance
management system were established and promoted through mouse mats, cards,
posters. Regular monthly briefings were also scheduled in order to get feedback.

Why
they did it

Montgomery
Watson wanted effective business communication to be a cornerstone of the new
organisation and to ensure employees knew they would be kept fully informed
about any changes affecting them. In addition, by placing emphasis on feedback,
employees were encouraged to comment on what they felt was and wasn’t
successful. "Our main concern was to avoid imposing things," explains
HR manager Dominic Kirkbride. "All of the initiatives were planned with
staff who had input and involvement in the design and implementation and
feedback was encouraged from the start."

Benefits
and achievements

The
staff surveys have allowed the company to measure the effectiveness of the
communication system, while feedback from employees has allowed continual
development of the system. The business now runs more efficiently and, says
Kirkbride, has become a "homogenous group" rather than a set of
factions.

Why
they won

"Montgomery
Watson successfully put in place a comprehensive communication strategy that
supported the needs of both managers and employees. It achieved the end results,
adding great value to the company."
Judge: John Smythe, chairman, SmytheDorward Lambert

Other
Finalists

Nationwide
Building Society
Corporate Personnel-Reward

The
company developed the idea of a "job family culture" where pay
progression is fairer and more transparent. To communicate this a plan was
devised under the banner of "valuing your contribution". The company
used a range of media from individual booklets and letters to presentations,
briefings, videos and the intranet. Employee feedback shows a positive
response.

First
Choice Holidays
HR department

Following
the acquisition of Unijet by First Choice Holidays, the two companies had to be
integrated and restructured into two new divisions. Managers, employees and
board members received regular updates and a dedicated e-mail site was set up
so employees could post questions and receive answers within 48 hours. Employee
surveys indicate widespread acknowledgement and appreciation.

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