Public transport company uses unique communications to engage remote workforce and achieve Investors in People accreditation
Nottingham Trams has been operating for 13 years and now has nearly 300 employees in a wide range of remote working roles. Largely male and predominantly offline, its workforce is focussed on providing a great customer service to all they encounter.
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The Nottingham Trams HR team carried out an employee engagement survey which showed that most of its 300 employees were disengaged from communications and the business, something which needed to change in order to become accredited as Investors in People.
The team had found effective communication to be elusive, understandable when factoring in the employee demographic of largely male, between the ages of 40 to 60, and 80% working remotely as Tram Drivers, Travel Officers, Cleaners, and Engineers. Nottingham Trams also saw that its intranet-based benefits offering was delivering low engagement as it was hard for employees to access and was spread out among different providers. This increased administration for the HR team and made it confusing for employees, who didn’t view it as a benefit at all.
In November 2016, Nottingham Trams made the decision to build an Employee Mobile App for its people, in the hope it would bring all of the benefits into one place and break down the communication barriers. They also knew that providing an app couldn’t appear as a management gimmick, so getting the branding right was seen as critical to its success.
In order to have a brand, you need to have a name. And the Nottingham Trams team decided to introduce a mascot for the app called EmMA – taken from Employee Mobile App. EmMA is a pink and white robot, created to attract Nottingham Trams’ wide-ranging demographic, and is based on the image of a former employee who was the go to-person whenever someone had a problem or needed advice.
EmMA’s main aim was to give the platform a friendly personality and make the new technology more approachable for those who might be less inclined to instantly adopt. The team made EmMA part of Nottingham Trams, giving her the honorary title of Engagement and Communications Assistant and making her a key driver for the communication of the app. Elements such as “Report an Issue” were changed to “Ask EmMA” to complete the personalisation.
Nottingham Trams extended the EmMA brand to its Reward Gateway benefits offering too, calling it “EmMA’s Benefits.” Using discounts and other benefits, now from one provider, the team gave real value to their employees in a central platform which was designed around a strong Nottingham Tram’s theme. The use of artwork focussed on trams and key Nottingham landmarks, making it instantly recognisable to all employees. And, with the three elements of EmMA, the Trams, and Nottingham in place – Nottingham Tram’s brand was born.
To communicate EmMA’s Benefits, the team devised a strategy which included stickers in payslips, desktop screensavers, posters, banners, drop-in sessions, and using employees as advocates. This was rounded off with “EmMA’s Essential Guide,” given to everyone in the company and created to visually explain how to use the new app.
Having EmMA as part of the team, Nottingham Trams employees had a single place where they could get its benefits and need to know information, at all times.
Aided by Reward Gateway’s single sign-on technology (SSO), the team saw 67% of employees download the app and register for the EmMA’s Benefits hub in only four weeks. Companies of a similar size usually only see these levels of take up after 12 months.
Importantly, the team saw a marked improvement with its remote employee demographic. From their 139 Tram Drivers, 97 of them logged in during the first month, compared to only 19 using the old intranet in the same month of the previous year. And over the following few months, that figure rose to 112 individuals actively engaging with the offering – a high 80%.
Nottingham Trams received its Investors in People accreditation thanks to the increase in engagement, which the team is really proud of. And the team isn't resting on their laurels either, with an EmMA brand refresh in development, the brand continues to be part of employees' everyday lives and is used continually for promoting all of Nottingham Trams' readily available benefits.
remote employees actively engage with platform since launch
for Investors in People achieved through increased engagement