Sharing is Caring - ICG Employee Engagement Strategy


Fiona Laffan

Sharing is caring: insights on engagement strategy

One of the most powerful aspects of your employee platform is how it connects your people to each other. In this session, Fiona will take you through how ICG teams are sharing their moments in areas such as events and volunteering, and how this is informing the company’s engagement strategy.

Video Transcript

– Thank you. Welcome everybody. Thank you for joining this session. I don’t normally drink caffeine after 12 noon. I’ve just had a double flat white from the machine, so if I’m speaking too quickly, let me know. So, I’ve been in a variety of finance and communications and communications in finance roles for the last 25 years plus. Hopefully will have some interesting things to say today and share with you about our version of Firstup, which as you can see, we call Spark. We have quite a nice logo there with a spark on it. I’m also joined, fortunately, by James Arnott and my team. He’s one half of our digital team. So, if you have any really difficult questions, I’m gonna hand ’em over to him at the end ’cause he’ll have all the answers. So, I joined ICG almost two and a half years ago and, fortunately for me, it was a new role coming in to build the corporate affairs function. Very much a blank sheet of paper. And so, kind of quite quickly saw there was an opportunity to introduce a product like Firstup to build engagement, to improve internal communications, you know, to enhance the culture of ICG. And I’m actually, for my sins, I’ve actually bought Firstup twice. So, I actually implemented it when I was at Lloyds Banking Group and so I already knew about the platform, what it could do. Very different scale in terms of the two organizations, but actually, has worked really well in both places. So, I can tell you a bit more about that. Probably never heard of ICG. I hadn’t really before I joined. It stands for Intermediate Capital Group, not a very snappy name, which is why we call it ICG. We are a asset manager. We operate in the alternative space. So, the private markets, private equity, private debt. We basically run funds and we have investors in those funds. And we have about 30 year plus history, about $75 billion of assets under management. So, very large in that sense. We also operate globally, so, broad scale and scope, but in other ways, we’re very small and we only have about 600 employees. So, very different to many of the other organizations who’ve spoken here today and who’ve talked about the benefits of Firstup, I think. There still have been a number of really big pluses for us in deploying the tool. In terms of our team, we are very small but perfectly formed. We’ve got seven of us all sitting in London who run all of the different parts of corporate affairs, including internal comms, external comms, corporate brand, et cetera, globally from our headquarters in London. So, we’ve also, as a company, grown very quickly. I think a number of other companies have talked about that today. We’ve roughly doubled the number of employees over the last three years. So, if you think we’re small now, we were only about 300 people-ish when I was first talking about joining. So, quite an interesting dynamic of public and private, small and large in a number of different facets. I won’t go through this in detail. Hopefully, you’ll have a chance to see some of these materials in more detail if you want to or ask questions about it. But just to give you an idea, I, as I said, I joined beginning of 2021, came in, assessed the internal comms tools we had at our disposal at the time, which was basically email and SharePoint and sporadic town halls. So, we saw an opportunity as a team to bring in a new tool which would give all our employees the opportunity to see the same information globally with a really slick experience in terms of the user experience and to be able to obviously personalize that experience by signing up to, some of the channels are mandatory, things like our global news and our investment news, but others like our employee networks and other, some other, like, local office channels, people can choose to sign up to. So, ability to personalize. We have it integrated with Workday, which again, I know a number of other companies have talked about today. That seems to work very well. And we worked with Firstup or actually SocialChorus, as it was originally, to implement the solution with our HR team, with our IT team collaboratively. And we launched towards the end of 2021 in the November. And one of the reasons for that, I suppose that felt like a long time. We would’ve liked to have done it a bit quicker. We needed the European data center at Firstup to be up and running from our cyber policy perspective. So, that’s one of the reasons we were, it took us slightly longer than we might have liked, but, you know, been going for a good amount of time now. How do we use it? I don’t think this is particularly unique or differentiated compared to a lot of the other firms who’ve spoken today. We are quite centralized I would say, in terms of how, the content that’s being posted there at the moment. A lot of the information is coming to our team, and then James and others are actually posting it on the platform. We would like to have more people submitting and posting their own content. I’ll come on for that in a minute, but we are getting a bit more traction there. But I suppose it is kind of centralized, and a lot of the information and news that’s on there is more of a broadcast format. It’s still fairly early days, and I think people are getting used to the tool. We are seeing engagement levels grow over time. We did launch originally with a loss of, James can maybe tell me how many channels we actually have, but we went, we decided to go out with a large number of channels right at the beginning rather than, say, launching with just a few and then broadening it over time. So we, that was part of our strategy from the beginning. So, and they’re all, you know, they’re, depends on the channel but they’re, we’re getting good traction across all of those in terms of the content, obviously, things like global news, investment news, are some of the ones which have got the most content on them, but actually the network channels are quite popular, as well, and posting quite a bit and you’ll see some of that. So, obviously, employee engagement, again, a theme that’s come up a lot today. It’s a really important and useful tool from that perspective. Just some stats here so you can see. This is an example of our feed. You’ll see it’s kind of, it’s obviously white label product, but we’ve put it into ICG colors. We have the logo. The look and feel is really nice, and particularly the mobile app I think is fantastic myself. 85% of our employees are currently registered on the platform. One of the things that we decided to do, again with James’ help as the SharePoint king, we had a newsfeed on our SharePoint site which was distinct from Spark, but we decided to actually embed Spark as the only source of news within our SharePoint site. So now, if people go onto the SharePoint site, they literally won’t see anything in the newsfeed unless they have registered as a user on Spark. So, we found that a useful way to drive registrations ’cause people generally do want to see that news flowing on there, even if they’re not going to the mobile app or the Spark platform itself. Over the past year, our average user on Spark has viewed 274 posts, and I looked up on Google how many working days there are in a year. It’s less than that. So, people, on average, are viewing one story per working day, which, actually, I think is really good. And 32% of the viewers have liked one or more posts. Again, I would, I personally would like to see more people liking and engaging more with the content, but I think the fundamental thing you need to see first is are people registered on the platform and then are they looking at the content? I think the stage beyond that is then, are they engaging with the content, and then are they hopefully at some point posting their own content and then that’s gonna, it’s gonna take a bit more time I think. So, it’s still fairly early days. So, title of this presentation was “Caring is Sharing,” which I didn’t come up with, and when we were talking about what I thought I could speak about, somebody suggested it, and hopefully you’ll see some of those more emotive posts, the ones that people is maybe obvious why people emotionally want to engage with them. And so, I just want to give you five examples of our best performing posts in the last year and that’s based on the number of likes. So, my definition of engagement, even though, obviously, there are different definitions. So, this is the first one that, the guy in the middle with the sand hats on is our CFO. So, this was obviously at Christmas. He went around the office with a drinks trolley with some mulled wine and hot chocolate and mince pies and things and you could buy it. The money went to charity, so you can see a lot of people on the floor got involved. I think it was Christmas jumper day, as well. You can see why this is something which people are gonna find amusing, you know. That’s an easy one to like. It doesn’t feel like you are kind of forming an opinion on anything controversial. So, yeah, that’s the first one. The next one here, I think, James, you’re in this picture. In fact, you posted it. There you go. So, one of our sports and wellness network, James is one of the key people there. Can see, a nice sunny day, a whole bunch of ICG people in ICG t-shirts doing something fun together out of the office. We’ve got quite a few comments on there. Quite a few people liked it. You know, again, it may seem, intuitively, it’s quite an obvious one where it’s an easy thing to like. It’s not like you are forming an opinion on whether the CEO made a good speech or not. You know, this is a, it’s a community thing. It’s quite emotive. So, what was the next one? Again, this is from Warsaw actually, and one of the things that we’ve seen, as well, is, obviously, James posted that last one. Here’s one of our employees, Bartec, in Warsaw who posted this one. Again, it’s something where people did something together out of the office. They’re having fun, but it was great that he felt able to post it himself rather than sending us the picture and sending us the text and saying, can you do it for me? We’ve seen more engagement with these types of posts where people have actually posted as themselves. So, we’re trying to encourage people where they come to us and say, “Can you put this on Spark for me?” Actually, it’ll be great if you could do it yourself and we can show you how and to try to get more of that user generated content coming through. New York, people playing five-a-side football. Some of these ones, the Americans seem a bit more willing to comment on posts, I would say in general. Don’t know if that’s a cultural thing. They’re quite, you know, they’re a smaller office. We’ve, you know, London’s our biggest office. I think Brits may be a bit reserved sometimes about wanting to comment or stand out on these sorts of things, but that was another one that got some really good engagement. And then finally, this one was actually a DNI initiative. Again, Warsaw seemed to be really good at, well, this is actually the same person who posted this one. Team of people having fun doing something which was, you know, important from a DNI perspective. They did some cooking, and we’ve got quite a few comments on that. Admittedly, quite a few of the comments are from the comms team, but that’s fine. We’re trying to encourage other people to get involved, as well, get started. So, my conclusion from all of that is it’s basically pictures of our employees doing fun or unusual things together, often for a good cause. They do best, these posts, when they’re posted by someone who was actually involved in the activity and when they can also add a bit of text maybe about their involvement, how it made them feel, you know, how they had fun with colleagues, that kind of thing. Obviously, it needs to be authentic. One thing I am disappointed about is when we created Spark, we created a channel that we thought, this is gonna be the one that’s, or I thought was gonna be the one that’s be the most popular that we called Pet’s Corner, which was basically pictures of your cat or dog or something just to share something from your personal life that people might want to engage with. That one’s been a bit slow, but I think maybe we’ll do some re-promotion of that one, James. But these sorts of things play a similar role, I suppose. Everyone can get involved and it’s, yeah, I suppose it’s sort of feel good factor, as well, around a lot of these things.

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