Keep your communication clear and agile. In times of crisis, simple is definitely better, says the award-winning HR team at Globe Telecom. Include only the relevant details so that the message won’t get jumbled. 

With a bronze win for Excellence in HR Communication Strategy at HR Excellence Awards 2020, Singapore, the HR team at Globe Telecom talks about its employee communications plan during the pandemic, and how they focused on clear and agile communication, employee feedback, leader-led change and continuous learning as opposed to inducing panic. 

Q What is your organisation’s winning HR strategy, and what are some milestones you’ve accomplished along this journey?

Globe is the proud winner of the Excellence in HR Communication award. We’ve always strived to improve the two-way communication between the Globe and its employees, fostering an environment where our Ka-Globe feels safe to speak up, and their opinions are heard and valued.

Over the past years, we’ve had initiatives that further improved the communication between Globe and its employees.

Traditional email communications were lessened in favor of Workplace by Facebook, an exclusive social media platform. Through Workplace, we can instantaneously get the pulse of the workforce, through the employee’s reactions and comments on our posts. We know if they liked a policy or programme, and listen to their suggestions on how to improve it.

Because of this, we can tweak our programmes and address their concerns. The two-way communication and agile feedback afforded by Workplace lets us create more user-centric programmes.

We also have our biannual iSpeak Engagement Survey, in partnership with Willis Towers Watson. This has been running for three years now, and Globe is proud to be included among the 24 Global High-performing Companies in terms of engagement, with a 91% Sustainable Engagement Score. But more than this acclaim, iSpeak also lets us know what aspects of employee life we need to focus and improve upon.

Overall, effective communications should be “felt” by your audience. Through our campaigns, we want our Ka-Globe to simply feel: “Globe is here for you. This is how we can make your life wonderful.”

Q How has this strategy helped you achieve your HR priorities, and what role has the leadership played in helping make this initiative a reality?

Because of the instant feedback we get from Workplace by Facebook, we immediately know what employees like or dislike about our programmes.

This has even led to improvement in our benefits programme, making employees feel that their opinions matter and can lead to genuine change.

We do all of these to increase employee engagement, because it is a core component of our “Circle of Happiness” philosophy. We believe that when you have the most engaged employees, they will take care of the customers, resulting in business results that delight the shareholders. We keep this circle spinning to ensure Globe’s success.

We are fortunate that our leaders are with us 100%. When we show them data about the sentiments of our Ka-Globe, they would even lead the charge and ensure we do right by our people. This is connected to our purpose of treating people right to create a Globe of Good.

Q Unexpected roadblocks are part and parcel of executing any initiative. What were some of the barriers that you and your team experienced while rolling this out, and how did you successfully get past them?

Our mission was to get people to leave the traditional email, and migrate into Workplace.

It is always difficult to get people to try a new communication platform, especially when the market is already inundated by similar messaging apps like Viber, WhatsApp, Telegram, etc.

Fortunately, we had the support of our Change Champions -- our Workplace Ambassadors from different groups -- to help drive the migration. In communication, you need allies to spread your message. And our message on why employees should join Workplace was simple: “Here, we feature all the things that make your Globe life wonderful.”

Leaders were also our biggest advocates, encouraging their groups to create work squads and move collaboration into Workplace.

Q As evidenced by the win, this initiative clearly delivered some amazing results. What was your gameplan for measuring ROI? What are some proud achievements you can share with us on this front?

We measured success in terms of monthly active users in Workplace. As of today, we have 99.45% Active Users and 96.65% Monthly Active Users, which is very high for a relatively young platform. This sustained engagement also led to us hitting our three communication objectives for moving people to Workplace: 1) Foster group collaboration; 2) increase employee engagement, and 3) improve feedback.

On a related note, the new channel also allowed us to create “campaigns with a heart”. This has led to the following achievements:

  • More comprehensive flexible benefits programme where Ka-Globe can select additional benefits useful for them;
  • First flexible work arrangement programme, allowing Ka-Globe to work from home. Similarly, HR also offered The Globe Dormitory, for employees in far-flung areas;
  • Non-work-related comms that show we care: weather tips, road rerouting, earthquake preparation;
  • Engagement contests, and longevity celebrations communicated via LED and Workplace;
  • Announcement of senior leader anniversaries or Employee’s work anniversaries;
  • Additionally, employee engagement was heightened through aggressive campaign of sports and interest clubs;

We partnered our online communication with on-ground presence. Last year, eight Kumustahan (“Check-up”) activities were conducted in our regional sites. This saw members of HR going to the regional offices to understand what support they can extend to the employees there, in terms of engagement, programs, or even tailor-fit policies.

Our proudest achievement would probably be when we utilised the Workplace technology to automate some of our processes. We implemented several bots using Workplace, in partnership with The Bot Platform Group. These include:

  • DUDE (Digital Usher for Disasters and Emergencies) -- The DUDE Bot helped us immensely during the COVID pandemic. It was our way of doing daily check-ins among our 7,000+ employees, to know how they were feeling and whether or not they were experiencing COVID symptoms. It allowed us to quickly know which employee needed assistance.
  • WANDA - Wanda is our Digital Recognition Bot, where Ka-Globe can send gratitude e-cards to each other. It was our way of pushing for our company culture of giving thanks, even while everyone is far apart.
  • Sagot Kita Bot - The Sagot Kita bot is our virtual Globe assistant that helps us resolve customer issues and complaints. It is available exclusively for select Globe Ambassadors.

Q One of HR’s biggest responsibilities this year has been crisis communication and engagement, as a bridge between the management and staff. What are some lessons you’ve learnt in an eventful year of improving communication?

The COVID pandemic was indeed a challenging time for employee communications. You need to have a balance between informing people about the disease, without inducing panic.

Some of the best practices we’ve learned during this crisis:

1. Keep your communication clear and agile. In times of crisis, simple is definitely better. Include only the relevant details so that the message won’t get jumbled. What do they need to know? What will help them get through this better? What options and alternatives are we providing?

But, be prepared also to shift the message, based on the reaction of the people. Clarity and agility must go hand-in-hand when informing others.

2. Change must be leader-led. During a crisis, it’s common to come up with policies that may protect the employees, but significantly change their way of life. If a policy is particularly hard to shallow, you need to have the support and buy-in of your leaders. When employees see their leaders walking the talk and being at the helm of the change, they will follow.

3. Learn from others. You can’t afford to live in a vacuum during a crisis. You may think that your practices are good enough, but somewhere out there, someone is doing a better job, with solutions you may not have thought of. You need allies and partner companies sharing their best practices to keep employees safe -- we owe it to our people.

With these three lessons, communication can keep employees safe during a crisis, instilling in them a sense of urgency and action.


Photo / Globe Telecom

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