Hemsley Fraser create, deliver and manage learning experiences that energise individuals, teams and the workplace. For the past decade, they’ve been consistently ranked as one of the Top 20 companies in the world for their leadership solutions, digital content, and training outsourcing. Experts in their field, they are passionate about the transformative effect that learning can have on the entire workplace experience. Today they are transforming how businesses communicate, develop and engage with their employees.
Six years ago, Hemsley Fraser partnered with 5App to help support their transformation ambitions with a digital engagement platform that has broadened their customer offering, but has also fundamentally changed the way in which Hemsley Fraser work, communicate, collaborate and learn.
CMO, Daniel Morgan explains: “The heritage of our business is in training courses, but we’ve spent the past decade transforming client perceptions, to be known as a blended learning provider (ie made up of digital, virtual and face to face delivery), a provider of modern learning solutions. The 5App Hub has helped us do that – and moved our business beyond learning into delivering all the benefits of an enhanced workplace experience. This includes better productivity, communications, driving a learning culture throughout the organisation and fundamentally changing the way people feel about the business they work for.”
Remote working and virtual learning
Before the current pandemic, Hemsley Fraser’s business still biased towards face to face delivery. In the face of predictions that lockdown and remote working would become the new business normal in all their operating countries, the leadership team formed a Coronavirus Taskforce. Its aim was to plan how they could pivot the business in a short timeframe, change the blend of learning solutions to online and in so doing, continue to support current and future customer needs.
Daniel continues: “Our current challenge has been to fast track all of the work we’ve been doing to offer blended learning experiences (using the 5App Hub) so we can continue to support our customers in a virtual world. We have the advantage that we already have the capability to deliver online or virtually, so all that has really changed is that the blend of solutions now excludes face to face (at this time). For us, this is nothing new, it’s something we’re really good at. It’s tried and tested.”
Using their own solutions
For Hemsley Fraser, the 5App Hub is also at the heart of their own business operations and it has been instrumental in making changes to the organisation in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
A geographically disparate organisation, Hemsley Fraser has offices in Germany, America, Canada and London with head office in two locations in Saltash, Cornwall. Historically, they had issues around the formation of business silos and as a result there was a low level of collaboration throughout the group.
One of the crucial turning points for Hemsley Fraser was when they started using the 5App Hub in a broader capacity, not just a place for learning libraries but also as a communications tool and a central repository where technical and departmental information could be stored and shared. Before using the Hub, Hemsley Fraser relied on an intranet, but found that the Hub provided a better opportunity for alignment on policy, compliance and security.
CXO/Director of Strategy, Lynsey Whitmarsh explains:
“The Hub has allowed us to become much more interconnected. We actually saw a real shift in culture about 18 months ago when we started to use the Hub as a communications and collaboration tool, not just as a learning library.
People were opening about 5000 assets a month for example, but what we’ve seen over the past three weeks and as the pandemic has hit, this figure has risen to around 10,000 assets a month and people are now using the Hub as a central repository for all key communications and as a means to bring context to learning content.
We’ve used it to keep people aligned to core messages, feeling connected and as a way for leaders of the business to be able to lead in a highly visible way. So what we already thought were amazing levels of usage and engagement with the Hub before have now gone through the roof. Todd Turner, our CEO, has been sending out video messages to the company every three days to help people make the transition to remote working and to keep them informed every step of the way.
We know from the Hub metrics that the video Todd created and sent out via the Hub this week had 198 views from a staff of 200 within half an hour of posting. That speed and consumption level for company communications is pretty awe-inspiring. It’s the fastest viewership we’ve ever had.”
Delivering corporate communications at scale and pace and knowing when and if people have consumed the comms is a challenge using traditional tools such as email or intranet platforms.
Lynsey adds: “For the Board, to have that level of confidence from usage data is invaluable, we know that we’re getting the message across to all of our staff and as a result nobody feels isolated, disconnected, confused, disorientated. It’s good to know we’re doing the right thing for our people.”
Focus in the current crisis
Hemsley Fraser worked according to Government guidelines in ensuring safety of staff and delegates at their sites across the world, including the training centre in London. The sites closed and staff were moved to working from home wherever possible. Once decisions had been made about dates for operational changes, they were communicated in video format via the Hub. Everyone in the company knew that key decisions about the business would be communicated in that way and this helped staff stay connected and up to date with the rapidly changing situation, as lockdown unfolded.
“One of the benefits of using the Hub is that we’re able to communicate in a very agile way,” explains Daniel. “So, from making a decision (as a leadership team) we’re able to quickly put a video together and push that to the business and for everyone to understand straight away, so that we can all move with the times, even when times are moving really, really fast.”
A key feature of the 5App Hub is the ability to rapidly create ‘playlists’ of useful content and learning topics. Hemsley Fraser drew on the expertise of their faculty of trainers and subject matter experts to create valuable sources of information related to COVID-19 and have been pushing these out to clients. (They also made this content available to Hemsley Fraser staff to help them with similar challenges.)
Daniel adds: “We created content on some really practical things about how to work remotely, how to run a team, how to lead in challenging times, how to manage video calls using Zoom, Teams, Skype, Connect – just pragmatic, immediate help. The feedback from our clients was immediate and very positive.”
Increased usage – Hub metrics and curated content
One of the many benefits of using the Digital Hub to push out corporate communications and other digital assets is the ability to measure how they have been consumed through an analysis of usage metrics. In the time since lockdown, many clients have seen asset usage rocket, suggesting the increased value that users are gaining from the Hub.
In one day a large FMCG client company saw 20,000 assets viewed, with 83,000 assets viewed in that same week.
“It’s one of the great things about using the Digital Hub,” adds Lynsey. “You have flexibility to create really valuable content from either our content libraries, third party curated content or you can make your own content, upload it and build something really valuable really quickly.”
Two way communication using the Hub
Using the Hub, Hemsley Fraser have embraced the facility of creating ‘shout outs’. Getting people involved in content creation (albeit through a central content creator who sifts and manages the upload process and safeguards the quality of input) is part of making the Hub integral to the fabric of an organisation.
Lynsey comments: “For instance, last Thursday we created a campaign around the 8pm ‘clap for our carers’ asking people for videos and photos and we put these into a playlist. It really helps in making the Hub interactive and ‘owned’ by the whole team.”
One of the most important things is getting the right messages out at the right time. So Hemsley Fraser has a schedule to help deliver messages at the optimum time, based on analysis of historical usage.
Overcoming IT infrastructure stresses
For some larger companies, IT infrastructures are increasingly under pressure from an all-remote business model. The Digital Hub sits outside the normal infrastructure so is a secure and reliable place for all staff to access the information they need when working remotely.
“As we come out of this crisis in 12-18 months’ time and people look back and ask ‘what saved us in this crisis?’ Cloud tech is the thing that will come to the fore,” reflects Lynsey. “Lots of bigger companies think they have to have on-premise tech stacks and solutions when actually, cloud based technologies enable people to keep working, to stay productive. It’s a big question for people when things restart, to change these mindsets.”
To the future
How you lead and manage a team through times of uncertainty and crisis are defining moments for any organisation.
“At the moment our employees are more like family,” says Lynsey. “We are coaching them through some tough times. Some people have kids at home and they are learning to cope with dual roles of home schooling on top of their day jobs. The blurring of work and personal life makes it difficult for people to cope. There are also plenty of very real human emotions around fear of the unknown. When will we be released? Who will get the virus? So being able to support staff through this is key and the Digital Hub has been instrumental to the way in which Hemsley Fraser have been able to do this.
No one knows exactly what the world will look like on the other side of this crisis but for the moment we have the tools to enable us to pivot the business, keeping our employees engaged and connected whilst working remotely and our clients supported.”