PT Awards 2013 shortlist: Employer Branding Award for Direct Line

The Direct Line team collect their first award of the night
The Direct Line team collects the Employer Branding award in 2013.

Direct Line won two awards on Monday night at the Grosvenor House Hotel, the Award for Employer Branding and the Award for Excellence in HR through Technology. Here we profile their winning entry in the former and the entries of the other shortlisted teams.

Judges
Mervyn Dinnen
, content and community manager, Jobsite UK
Marcus Body, research analyst and communications consultant, Work

Direct Line Group

About the organisation

Direct Line Group’s household name insurance brands include Direct Line, Churchill, Privilege, Green Flag, Tracker and NIG. The group is in the middle of seperating from RBS Group, which is scheduled to complete at the end of 2014.

The challenge

Becoming an independent group of companies meant that Direct Line needed to develop a new brand and reinvigorate its culture, while encouraging its 15,000 employees to become brand advocates. It also needed to do this from scratch, within just six months.

What the organisation did

  • Researched employees’ perceptions of the brand and the market, including surveys and interviews.
  • Decided on a bottom-up, inclusive approach to counteract previous command-and-control culture.
  • Created suite of communications for new joiners that was differentiated from previous RBS communications.
  • Issued 15,000 new contracts and pension benefit packs; overhauled training and related documentation to align it with the new brand.
  • Developed simpler, more straightforward employee value proposition of ambition to become “Britain’s best general insurer”, with strapline “Let’s take the lead”.
  • Trained over 300 stakeholders on how to use the images, tone and templates for the new brand.

Benefits and achievements

  • More informed candidates at interview stage, no-show rate reduced from 30% to 6.1%.
  • Offer-to-acceptance rate improved from 33.3% (RBS) to 65.3%.
  • One in four internal colleagues visited new careers website within the first month; visitor-to-application ratio increased by 26.7%.
  • Advertising led to 70% of call centre hires and 40% of specialist external hires.
  • Direct recruitment increased from 81% to 87%.

Judge’s comments

“A great effort to reinvigorate culture and establish brand, against tight deadlines, in a newly independent business.” – Mervyn Dinnen


Plantronics

About the organisation

Plantronics is a leading manufacturer of wireless headsets. Its products are used by a range of people from pilots, astronauts and emergency workers to large corporates. The US-headquartered company employs around 3,400 people worldwide.

The challenge

Plantronics had focused on the benefits its customers gained from using its products, but wanted its own employees to benefit from working smarter and more flexibly. It needed to remove the “nine-to-five” mentality and enable employees to work where and when it suited them, using the latest technology and designing smarter office space.

What the organisation did

  • Broke the project down into “bricks, bytes and behaviours” in terms of how it would tackle the space, technology and people issues.
  • Used an employee workspace satisfaction survey to gauge what employees were looking for from their office space.
  • Created a more ambient working environment including relaxing décor, no specific offices for managers, and “green” improvements, including power-saving lighting and energy-saving heat distribution.
  • Enabled remote working, so that staff could work from anywhere.
  • Introduced new management tools to set and record goals; aligned personal goals to corporate goals.

Benefits and achievements

  • Reduced staff turnover from 15% to 3.2% through improved work-life balance.
  • Employee engagement has improved, with 98% showing an intention to stay with the company; there are also higher levels of trust.
  • Reduced absenteeism from 12.7% to 3.5%.
  • Savings on real estate costs of £250,000 and 60% savings from using audio conferences.
  • Recognised by trade press as one of the best places to work in this sector.

Judge’s comments

“Fantastic example of bringing the external brand to life with employees, with impressive results.” – Marcus Body


Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International (MUSI)

About the organisation

Mitsubishi UFJ Securities International is the London-based securities arm of Mistsubishi UFJ Financial Group, one of the world’s largest financial institutions, headquartered in Japan.

The challenge

Careers in finance are increasingly unpopular since the start of the financial crisis in 2008, with graduates perceiving there to be a lack of integrity and low job security. With limited employer brand awareness outside Japan, MUSI wanted to attract and retain talent to support growth.

What the organisation did:

  • Partnered with agency The Brand Union to perform research on brand values and potential positioning.
  • Embedded values through employee initiatives such as management committee sponsorship, focus groups, town halls, case studies, competitions and work shadowing.
  • Embedded values into recruitment and HR processes.
  • Invited students at LSE Finance Fair to share a drink with existing staff to see what their real experiences were.
  • Graduates asked to write a blog on financial markets in their application, reflecting focus on integrity and sustainable growth.

Benefits and achievements

  • Employees at all levels refer to the values in their language and behaviours.
  • Ninety per cent of employees feel they are more familiar with values; 93% feel they understand what the company stands for.
  • Increased quality and quantity of direct applications: number of hits to careers web pages up from just over 9,000 to more than 26,000.
  • Saved around £300,000 on recruitment agencies through more direct applications, while an estimated £250,000 has been saved through employee referrals.
  • Employee turnover in decline since Q4 2011, and at end of 2011 it was 4% lower than CIPD industry average.

Judge’s comments

“This took on an image problem of not just their business but their industry too. Impressive results.” – Mervyn Dinnen


Prudential

About the organisation

Prudential is an international financial services group with assets of more than £427 billion and more than 23 million insurance customers. It employs more than 25,000 people worldwide.

The challenge

An engagement survey in 2010 revealed that while Prudential UK and Europe had positive engagement, it could do more to connect staff with its values, people strategy and HR policies. It decided to develop a new people strategy based around six key “pillars”.

What the organisation did

  • Decided on the six “pillars” and came up with a visual way to present them: pride and connection; leaders and managers; skills and capabilities; career development; reward and recognition; and ways of working.
  • Created a set of people principles to articulate employer brand; a small team then embedded these principles in everything from the company intranet to recruitment.
  • Organised focus groups and one-to-ones so staff could help to share and refine the principles.
  • Commissioned a film to bring the principles to life in a memorable way, with colleagues as the cast.
  • Reviewed brand guidelines to ensure that employees’ experience was aligned to the consumer-facing brand; created a new visual identity and “brand hub”.
  • Moved responsibility for reward and recognition to the engagement team.

Benefits and achievements

  • Twenty-two per cent increase in staff who would recommend Prudential as a place to work.
  • Fourteen per cent increase in engagement, exceeding target increase of 10% set in 2010.
  • Increased productivity: new business profit of £313 million in 2012, up 20%.
  • Greater pride in working for the company: 85% “feel proud” in 2012, up from 74%.
  • Four per cent reduction in voluntary turnover between December 2010 and December 2012.

Judge’s comments

“Clear articulation of the employment promise, with an excellent approach to ensuring deployment across all elements of the employment experience.” – Marcus Body


Mercer

About the organisation

Mercer is a US-headquartered HR and financial services consulting firm offering advice on numerous employee-focused matters, including reward, pensions, engagement, retirement and health programmes. It employs more than 20,000 staff in more than 40 countries.

The challenge

After research into how Mercer’s brand was perceived by its two key recruitment audiences – graduates and professionals – it decided that it needed to make the way it positioned its recruitment offering more consistent. It also found there were a number of misconceptions about what the company did, and wanted to address these.

What the organisation did

  • Decided to put employees at the centre of the branding communications strategy, inviting representatives from every Mercer UK office to tell their stories on video.
  • Developed new strapline: “Talent. It makes all the difference.”
  • Used photos of the video participants to create consistent suite of materials on- and offline to offer potential recruits.
  • Created new websites for graduates and experienced hires.
  • Designed an “augmented reality” presentation to be delivered via smartphones, aimed at graduates at careers fairs.
  • Brand integrated into assessment, onboarding, and rewards and benefits materials.

Benefits and achievements

  • Involving staff in brand development created a buzz.
  • New websites are closer to corporate brand identity and are more consistent.
  • Candidates reach interview stage with a more informed idea of what the company does.
  • Augmented reality application and a new exhibition stand have raised Mercer’s profile at recruitment fairs.
  • Communications reflect more accurately what it is really like to work at the company.

Judge’s comments

“Personal and warm brand that works well across a variety of audiences – internal and external.” – Marcus Body


Signet Group

About the organisation

Signet is the company behind high street jewelers H. Samuel and Ernest Jones. It operates more than 500 stores across the UK and employs around 4,000 staff on its shop floors.

The challenge

Signet employs sales assistants who range in age from 16 to 25, often work different shift patterns and spend irregular hours in stores. Previously, messages had been sent via emails to store managers. It needed to find a way to communicate new initiatives in a way staff would understand and that would empower them to make their own decisions.

What the organisation did

  • Launched two internal brands called “Create the moment” (Ernest Jones) and “Time to shine” (H. Samuel) as a way of communicating the values the company was looking for.
  • Came up with personal avatars for each brand that reflected desired behaviours and values, and had a distinctive, informal image.
  • Applied the avatars to various media, such as training materials or cartoons outlining how to solve particular problems.
  • Introduced bespoke intranet where branding is continued, allowing staff to communicate directly with head office.
  • Used the new branding in Christmas handbooks and other seasonal campaigns.

Benefits and achievements

  • Head office now communicates directly with sales assistants, boosting their confidence and results.
  • Cost-effective campaign, as most of the branding is template driven – stores can print their own materials as desired.
  • Revamped branding has helped the successful launch of new intranet, now active in 500 stores, a new repair system and a single view of stock.
  • Thirty-two per cent increase in employees signing up to the pension scheme.
  • Branding has facilitated the launch of a recognition programme to reward assistants for taking the “Time to shine” or “Creating the moment”.

Judge’s comments

“The avatar approach is visually fun, but is also clearly based on a nuanced understanding of the audiences for the communication materials.” – Marcus Body

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