At Dollar Finance we are extremely proud of our Intranet and the achievement of winning a Ragan Employee Communication Award, so I want to share the processes and tools we use on our intranet which brought us the title of Best Social Intranet.
How do most retailers decide whether to open individual stores on a Sunday, whether there should be a uniform or not, why there are discrepancies on employee pay between stores and how to openly discuss the impact of regulatory changes to a business? I doubt their first thought is to ask those affected on the intranet. Well ours is, it’s not just the way we say we work but pivotal to everything every employee does from MD to front line.
How we set our goals
Our 2012 employee survey told us:
- Our 2,000 employees felt bombarded by emails in store
- They wanted the latest information at their fingertips
- Didn’t want to go looking for it when customers were waiting on the results
- Wanted an easier way to speak store-to-store rather than purely to central services
- Training was hard to book and too restrictive
- They couldn’t find out during tests what they were getting right and wrong
- Regional Managers felt their communication channels weren’t having any impact
- Executives wanted to make decisions based on all employees’ thoughts, not just those in head office
The results of this survey gave us the feedback we needed to be able to determine staff requirements, we then used these as a basis for our goals.
Luckily a superhero emerged in the unlikely guise of an old lady – our intranet, DORIS -Dollar Online Retail Information System, she’s officially referred to as the Daily Dollar due to the up to the minute information, but DORIS has stuck.
Strategy and Tactics
We went and spoke to our stores to understand what the problems looked like as well as what good would look like.
We then sat with Regional Managers to understand what they wanted to achieve, what they needed from us, identify any training needs and find a way to make their communications effective.
We already had a versatile intranet so we worked with Interact to make it even more effective.
Homepage Redesign: Single Click Access to Key Info
The information stores needed proved to be consistent across all location. ‘Ezi Access’ short cuts link to the most common actions, which are determined weekly using Interact Analytics.
Store based employees get up to the minute price of gold for our gold buying services as well as the daily password needed to get loan authorisation for a customer.
Key initiatives take centre stage on the homepage as well as snippets of our MD Sanjiv Corepal’s blogs “Keep Calm and Carry On” which has 300 subscribers.
News flashes appear when there’s a key piece of content for everyone to read, occasionally this will be a mandatory read if it is compliance information.
Over 100 blogs per day
All 54 Regional Managers were trained on how to use DORIS effectively. Initially blogs were too long according to stores so we helped them learn to write short, effective messages. Any new or promoted Regional Managers have DORIS training sessions as part of their induction. These managers are no longer allowed to send ‘too many’ emails and have to blog at least once a day with key messages as part of their job description.
We now have over 100 blogs per day with 77 daily bloggers, stores opt to subscribe to their area managers. As these blogs are more broadly read, we’ve noticed subscriptions coming from across the business, for example many people from around the business subscribe to one particular managers blog even though they may not be member of his team.
Trust Shouldn’t Have to Be Earned – Forums for All
Our store staff told us they wanted a greater voice and an easier route to share ideas, discussion forums have proved to be the simple yet effective answer. When we needed to educate our staff on regulatory changes, we do it via forums so they can question how it would impact them and share ideas for how this could be implemented. Our approach is to allow the conversation to flow, it is only if something is incorrect or incomplete that we will step in.
As discussed in the introduction, forums have driven business decisions. We asked Store Managers whether their store should open on a Sunday, all 600+ came back via the thread to explain why they should or shouldn’t. When someone questioned why Store Managers in some areas got paid more than others, another store manager (not one of the highest paid ones) gave their view of salary and why it made sense for busier stores to pay more, no intervention needed! When we wanted to know if we should release a uniform, we asked our staff via forums.
Our board meetings aren’t shrouded in mystery, we record them and key issues raised by employees on forums, and broadcast them on the intranet. That way change is transparent, accountable and understandable.
Similarly with training being pivotal to all stores, the Training Team’s calendar is openly accessible on DORIS so staff can see what training initiatives we are focusing on and openly ask and share training issues they see in store.
Training Made Simple
All store training is now conducted on Doris using Interact’s Question Bank tool. Not sure what you got wrong? You can easily find out on DORIS’ training area which allows staff to take both mandatory training and training to help them improve their skills.
Team Money Shop
This content area is used to make it easy for stores to share ideas through pictures and forums, share light hearted content such as jokes and importantly highlights the great work our staff do. We have a high volume of mystery shoppers, if your shop does well the staff in your shop all receive reward points they can exchange for prizes.
Our good practice constantly evolves so we made it easy for staff to know what to do with our Action Desk store, tasks are marked start, continue or stop. Store compliance has rapidly increased with this simple technique.
Christmas Email Blackout
Our busiest period is the last week before Christmas and the run in to the New Year. The business is blocked from emailing stores during this period, everything has to be communicated via DORIS. That way our employees can pick up tasks in a single place rather than looking at multiple sources. This includes an open calendar with reminders for display changes etc. We then take any lessons or challenges that arise and implement them into Doris.
- Increased uptake of both essential and discretionary training
- Blogging is now part of Regional Manager’s job description and most blog more than once a day
- Staff feedback is they love DORIS, they don’t just use it but feel they own it
- Training course uptake has doubled
- Executives now expect new initiatives to be run via DORIS