Snowdrop Systems Award for Communication Strategy

award is aimed at HR teams who have used employee communication effectively to
support business objectives or support organisational change. The winning team
was able to show how it identified the right method of communication, planned
effectively and measured the impact of the strategy on staff. The judge looked
for appropriate use of technology and other materials.


John Smythe was, until recently, chief executive and chair of specialist
internal communication and change consultancy Smythe-DorwardLambert, which he
set up in 1989. Prior to that he had been behind a start-up in the same field
called Wolff Olins Smythe (1985-1989). 
Before that he held senior public affairs posts for three US
corporations: Occidental Oil, working for the legendary Armand Hammer; Bechtel,
where he was the first head of European public affairs; and Marathon Oil
Company. He believes that the first era of internal communication is over and that
the discipline needs to reinvent itself or die.

& Spencer Group PLC


in HR team 6, with a total of 1525 in HR
Staff responsible for 60,000

Powell Head of learning & development (performance management)
Abigail Rowland, Internal communications manager
Catriona Rayner, Executive, UK retail finance
Gary Waldron, Head of business change
Fiona Holmes, Executive assistant, board support
Richard Gillies, Head of selling and operations, clothing division
 Virginia Hicks, Head of internal
Martin Clarkson Executive, internal communications

Management Team

the company

& Spencer Group plc is a leading high street retailer with more than 60,000
employees trading in over 300 locations across the UK and the Republic of


create a sustainable change in work practices to deliver better results after
poor performance in the 1990s through to 2001

the company did

Creation of ‘The Cube’ – an employee guide to the new ways of working. Included
linking objectives into the reward system – rewarding individuals for delivery
not seniority. It also gives clarity to the company’s vision, values, strengths
and turnaround strategy

Development of a performance management process to enable individuals to be
clear about their contribution l Individual objectives are agreed annually with
line managers

and Improvements

surveys show significant improvements in understanding of:

the direction of the company

the clarity of corporate aims

how staff are supported by the company

Smythe says:
"Marks & Spencer’s woes are familiar territory to the
whole population so I was immediately drawn to see how open they might be in
this submission to Personnel Today. I was not disappointed. The company
acknowledge the terrible time it has had and charted the recovery story, which
had at its core the organisation’s change process called ‘a sustainable change
in the way we work to deliver better results’. In this the company links the
recovery vision and strategy for the business with clear goals for everyone in
the organisation. It is all brought down to earth with simple language. Marks
& Spencer covers the essential elements of any successful change and
communication strategy."



in HR team 4, total number in HR 800
Staff responsible for 80,000

Phillips, HR communications manager
Rachael Drohan, HR communications manager
Jo Harper, Head of HR communications and product management
Diane Knowles, Communications consultant

Communications and HR Product Management Team

the company

TSB is a leading UK-based financial services group, whose businesses provide a
comprehensive range of banking and financial services in the UK and overseas


positively communicate the removal of profit sharing as well as promoting the
benefits of a new reward package to a UK workforce of 80,000 across 3,000

the company did

Created the ‘Flavours’ package, one of the biggest flexible benefits schemes in
the UK, offering 13 different benefits alongside a share incentive scheme,
pre-launch advertising and a communications campaign to whet people’s
appetites. Staff briefings, posters/leaflets, intranet advertising, in-house
staff magazines, roadshows and videos were used as promotion tools

Introduced change management activities such as face-to-face presentations by
HR business partners to senior management teams and an easy-to-use information

and Improvements

exceeded with:

50 per cent of staff selecting one or more of the flexible benefits

97 per cent registered for free shares

43 per cent chose to buy Partnership Shares

Smythe says:
"Lloyds TSB aimed to create a winning employer brand,
that would attract and retain the people it needed. The communications strategy
is part and parcel of the business task of devising one of the biggest flexible
benefits schemes in the UK and generating maximum take-up by staff.  The company has demonstrated that such a
process can only be achieved with creativity, boldness and imagination.  Its success is manifest in the take-up
figures for the scheme."



in HR safety team 5, total 164
Staff responsible for 12,476

Hodges, Organisation and development manager
Iain Service, Project manager, technology
Leanne Taylor, Project support
Raif Evans, Systems strategist
Clare Marriott, Communications manager
Nicola Whitefield, Communications manager
Olivier Binse, Head of strategy

Breathe Programme Team

the company

was launched in November 2001 as a leading provider of mobile communication
services across Europe


create a new brand, communicate it to staff and gain commitment from them for
the new programme while integrating six different businesses with different
brands across Europe

the company did

the ‘Breathe’ programme to ensure the focus and commitment of staff to
improving the customer experience, adding value to the company, delivering the
brand promise and promoting products and services

Stage 1: ‘First Steps’: 400 managers chosen as ‘change catalysts’ to drive
change, including participation in a virtual community on the Breathe website
known as The Meeting Place

Stage 2: ‘Building Momentum and Commitment’: included a company-wide
newsletter, workshops, poster gallery of 50 employees to recognise their input
and a CD-Rom of the O2 story

and Improvements

‘energised workforce’ with commitment to the new brand, company vision and
corporate values. Workforce mobilised behind the business strategy and improved
focus with financial results to prove it

Smythe says:
"I liked this exciting entry for the same reason as the
other two: communication is a core part of the business strategy and includes
a  strong behavioural and leadership
element. It is clear that 02 recognises its people are the strategy and that
unless they are personally implicated in it, strategy remains the worthless
property of some distant board.  In
keeping with the age profile of the staff it seems to have pitched this
perfectly at their young and diverse European audience."

Systems delivers highly scaleable and sophisticated HR and payroll systems
world-wide. A fresh approach to systems implementation and support plus a
reputation for creativity has fuelled Snowdrop’s rapid growth to a strong
market position. A 95% client retention rate shows Snowdrop’s commitment to
successful long-term business relationships achieved by its unique
‘partnership’ approach.

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