When you started with TWE in January 2020, what was the environment you walked into?
Melissa: When I arrived our communications function wasn’t particularly mature – we had an over-reliance on email, minimal opportunities to drive two-way communication and found it hard to effectively cascade information and connect with our teams around the world, particularly those who didn’t have access to email because they were working in vineyards or in production roles.
It was also an interesting time because COVID-19 was emerging and some of our teams in China were already facing lockdowns, we were preparing for a transition to a new Chief Executive Officer and had just announced a review of our business in the United States. However all of these provided great opportunities to re-imagine how we could be communicating and engaging with our teams across the world.
How did you decide to go with Workplace and how did you get all your stakeholders on board?
Melissa: I had used Workplace in a previous organisation. If you think about the nature of our business – vineyards in stunning regional locations around the world – and great wines, Workplace was a natural fit for TWE.
COVID-19 was a real catalyst as it highlighted our overreliance on email and top-down cascading of information, as well as a lack of two-way communication.
Some of the other drivers included:
- Nearly half of our workforce are millennials and Gen Z who are digitally literate.
- Lifting the visibility of our leaders across the business
- Breaking down silos across the business
- We also needed to reach those hard-to-reach team members who are in production facilities, packaging centres, logistics facilities and working in the vineyards.
- We also needed to break through language barriers given the geographical nature of our business
- Targeted communications that were efficient and effective, and more importantly drove strategic alignment and improved the employee experience.
We started by being clear about the communications problem we needed to solve and then explored a range of different platforms – including speaking to organisations that were using the tools to understand their experience – that had the potential of solving those challenges and addressing the key business drivers.
That initial research allowed us to shortlist two platforms with Workplace the preferred choice because of its functionality. We then formed a cross-functional working group who considered the shortlisted tools, validated Workplace as the platform of choice, helped develop the business case and the Blueprint for Workplace. We worked through a very methodical process, collaboratively, to develop the business case.
This group was critical to our success and included representatives from different parts of the business, including IT, and geographies – the diversity of this group was critical and they became probably the greatest ambassadors for this project and helped lead the change effort.
We also spent a lot of time talking with key members of our executive leadership team, in particular our CEO and Chief People Officer, to help them understand the opportunity and how this investment could help improve the employee experience and drive better business outcomes.
Whilst we had large pockets of support, we did have to address concerns around the change addressing work practices and safety (particularly in vineyards and production facilities), how Workplace fitted into the technology stack, controlling the sharing of information, as well as security and privacy.
Melissa O’Neill, Global Director Corporate Affairs, Treasury Wine Estates
How did you roll this out? Why did you decide to go with a ‘big bang’ approach especially across so many jurisdictions?
Melissa: The advice from Workplace and Enablo was to take an all in approach and ‘go live’ just once, which we did. We wanted to drive account claims as quickly as we could and we wanted to give our audience sufficient reason to get on board, explore, connect and have fun with the platform. We timed our launch with TWE’s 10th Birthday celebrations – it proved to be a great way to grow our audience, celebrate our teams and our business, in a really fun, personal and engaging way. Of course, we also had the Pets at TWE group giving everyone the opportunity to showcase their other family members, typically of the furry and four-legged variety, – a hit in every organisation!
“…we are measuring our internal comms and the level of engagement, and thinking about it’s contribution to a more collaborative and innovative culture on a regular basis, and giving [our executives] this feedback. We can measure leadership visibility, what’s cutting through with teams, insights into how to improve the way they communicate, connect and engage. “
Global Director Corporate Affairs, Treasury Wine Estates
What has been the take up rate on Workplace since you launched?
Melissa: We had hoped to launch in January 2021 and had set ourselves a target of 80% accounts claimed by the end of the financial year (June 2021). We ended up launching in April 2021 and within 72 hours we had 52% of our global workforce on the platform. We now have close to 75% globally on the platform, including 97% in our Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) geographic region, 91% in Asia and 98% in our corporate head office. We still have work to do to reach that harder-to-connect audience, but at this stage we have reached critical mass in every jurisdiction across the world.
How did you engage your executives?
Melissa: We were very fortunate to have a supportive Executive Leadership Team (ELT) who have, and continue to, prioritise communication, engagement and connection – as a result, they quickly got on board and led the Workplace charge.
From early on, we showed our leadership team how Workplace could help solve some of our communication and engagement challenges and drivers, and we were fortunate that our business, like many others, was increasingly reliant on needing to communicate and engage virtually given the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic – our business was open to tools that could make that easier and more engaging.
At launch there was training and communications support to help them lead the way. In fact, we’d spent so much time talking about Workplace that it was members of our Executive team really pushing us to hurry up and launch.
The other critical decision we made was to turn off other channels and not duplicate communication. We moved quickly to work with our ELT and leaders to migrate content into clearly defined channels on Workplace so that our people knew where to go for information and that Workplace was the place to connect, engage and have conversations. They don’t have to second guess how to move across channels in the organisation and our email traffic has reduced.
How do you maintain executive engagement and how do you ensure their visibility and presence in this online environment?
Melissa: We have a Workplace-first policy, so all of our communications, including executive communications, are published on Workplace first. It’s actually easier, simpler and much more efficient for leaders to use Workplace.
In terms of both social and business interactions, our executive team are getting real-time feedback from their team, they’re able to engage with them much more effectively and they are increasingly getting access to the questions and conversations that normally happen ‘offline’.
So, the value is becoming really evident.
The other thing is that we are measuring our internal comms and the level of engagement, and thinking about it’s contribution to a more collaborative and innovative culture on a regular basis, and giving them this feedback. We can measure leadership visibility, what’s cutting through with teams, insights into how to improve the way they communicate, connect and engage.
What do you see as a future-fit workforce?
Melissa: Hybrid ways of working are here to stay. We’ve all seen that it can work and that people can be incredibly productive. The question is, how do we make the connection rich and meaningful for people?
From a TWE perspective, we did our first pulse survey around COVID in June last year, what came through very loud and clear was that our global team wanted to retain flexible, hybrid working and that prompted us to revisit a lot of our policies around flexible working and the things that were going to make that a reality. We also looked at ways of working so that we can try and minimise the fatigue and burnout we’ve seen during COVID and really drive that connection.
From a connection perspective, Workplace is helping us bring our DNA (our values) to life – bring your whole self to work, courage, and deliver together. This DNA drives the way we work and connect. Our DNA continues to be critical in framing our thinking about our future workplace and the tools, systems and processes we need to help people be as effective as they can be. Certainly Workplace is just one of the tools we’re bringing to the party to help us work through that.
“…Workplace is giving frontline teams a voice within the organisation and affording the opportunity for greater participation in decision making at both a local and global level. We’re already seeing this is contributing to a greater sense of inclusion across the business.. “
Global Director Corporate Affairs, Treasury Wine Estates
Corporate comms typically controls the message. What guardrails do you have in place to let go allow the transparency that is inevitable with Workplace?
Melissa: Firstly, Workplace can be a real gift for corporate communications teams! Channels like Workplace allow you to unlock the creativity of your communications teams and give them the opportunity to focus on higher order activities such as how to help leaders drive better connections, collaboration and more meaningful conversations that drive strategic alignment and mobilise their teams around the priorities that really matter.
We want our leaders to be able to communicate with confidence and in a way that is authentic to them – Workplace provides that channel. From a communications perspective, that means we need to ensure leaders have the capabilities, skills and access to the right tools and information to be as successful as possible on the channel.
On the issue of transparency and respectful conversations – I think transparency on the platform is important and it can change the nature of conversations within the business, and open up those conversations to a broader audience. In my experience, people being disrespectful on the platform or not behaving in a way that is consistent with your business’ values or expectations is incredibly rare. In most cases, teams will self-moderate language, behaviour and tone on the platform. What is more important, is that you create a safe environment for a range of conversations to take place – often the same conversations that are happening ‘offline’ – so that you can tap into them, understand those perspectives, and use those insights to strengthen culture and organisational trust.
How important is injecting fun vs the corporate element?
Melissa: At TWE, we believe in taking our business very seriously but not ourselves. We make premium wine that is meant to help celebrate those special moments with friends and families, and this includes everyone who touches our business, including our team members.
Bringing our whole selves to work is part of our DNA and that is certainly alive and well on Workplace – the platform helps drive connections and conversations amongst our team globally from attending product launches, sharing their favourite wine and food match, travel destinations, being in a restaurant and seeing one of our wines on the menu, supporting our communities – all of these and more are important to creating a sense of belonging within TWE. That belonging and acceptance drives us to deliver together, recognise our achievements, collaborate on shared challenges and continue to push the boundaries for our consumers.
What do you see as the benefits of Workplace for engaging with your frontline workforce?
Melissa: For our frontline team members, Workplace will give them the opportunity to get quick and easy access to information about the business as well as a range of operational information including health and safety, HR information as well as a range of site and work practice details.
It will also allow them to connect with team members around the world, and access more information about the business and the products we make and sell.
Workplace is giving frontline teams a voice within the organisation and affording the opportunity for greater participation in decision making at both a local and global level. We’re already seeing this is contributing to a greater sense of inclusion across the business.
What was the benefit of working with Enablo on your rollout?
Melissa: Enablo brought to the table a proven methodology, the expertise we needed to determine how we structured Workplace in a way that makes sense for TWE, as well as experience in training and engaging team members across the business. This helped us launch the platform in a way that ensured we achieved our account claim and engagement objectives.
“Enablo brought to the table a proven methodology, the expertise we needed to determine how we structured Workplace in a way that makes sense for TWE, as well as experience in training and engaging team members across the business.
This helped us launch the platform in a way that ensured we achieved our account claim and engagement objectives.”
– Melissa O’Neill
Global Director Corporate Affairs, Treasury Wine Estates