CIPR Best Employee App Award Winner 2017.
SGN (previously known as Scotia Gas Networks) is a UK gas distribution company which manages the network that distributes natural and green gas to 5.9 million homes and businesses across Scotland and the south of England. The company has around 3800 direct employees of which about 80% are field based across 30 locations.
The company vision is to keep its customers safe and warm by leading the way in energy delivery and positions itself as being “bright, forward thinking experts”. SGN believes it will achieve its vision if they tap into the passion of its people to nurture a ‘One SGN’ mentality through clear communication of business goals, praising good work and fostering pride.
SGN’s Communications team recognised the need to provide every employee with access to the optimum information but faced the challenge not all their employees had work mobile devices, and that it’s intranet was/is out-dated. Despite having existing multi-channel delivery of information, feedback from a company-wide 2015 survey revealed employees weren’t receiving regular, meaningful communication.
According to Janet Lessels, Communications Manager, participants in communications focus groups had confirmed that they liked digital communications and were supportive of a dedicated channel carrying content specific to their role. Colleagues were adamant that the proposed new channel should not just be the intranet in app form, it must be simple to use and it must provide relevant and timely content that is of value.
SSE (a majority SGN shareholder) had recently launched an employee app so the team at SGN, led by Janet met with their equivalent team at SSE in order to understand the app development process. Encouraged by the experience of SSE, SGN decided to go ahead and build their own app as it was judged to be the best tool to reach all field employees who now had smart devices as a result of an IT rollout programme.
SGN concluded that a custom app would provide:
- Cost effective, high impact communication
- Fast development using SSE’s tried and tested supplier - Thrive (formerly known as TheAppBuilder)
- Real-time Google analytics for effective measurement
"The project took six months from concept to delivery. I think it was brilliant… the Thrive team were very creative… I just really liked working with them to be honest. They were very friendly and professional.”
The plan was to launch pre-winter 2016. This would mean that employees would have access to the app in advance of the busiest time of year for operational staff, when it is difficult for them to get into the depots or meet regularly with their team managers. A lot of thought, energy and creativity was put in to the launch of the app. As well as many other unique and fun ideas, the launch included circulating huge foam smartphones round the offices and depots for employees to take team pictures with and then send in via the app.
The team had the confidence with the app launch to simultaneously stop posting news items to the intranet. Within one week 32% of employees had downloaded the app and there were 3,200 downloads in the first 28 days. There have been more than 150,000 screen views since launch. In an employee survey, 92% said ‘they like it’ and 64% of employees confirmed they are accessing the app at least once per day with 26% accessing it two to three times”. On an on-going basis, push notifications are issued on average three times per week to draw attention to new app content.
“I want to congratulate you on the app. What a great way to improve communication in our company and to give everyone an equal opportunity to get the latest news and offers at their fingertips. You must be delighted with your achievement. I must also say how impressed I was with the way it was launched.”