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Data centre company unifies employees with centralised engagement platform after multiple mergers

How DataBank improved employee satisfaction score by 16% and increased employee recognition by 2800%

DataBank Ltd. is a data centre and managed services company that provides mission-critical IT infrastructure to enterprises, technology and content providers from 60+ facilities in 29 markets in the U.S. and Europe. After going through multiple acquisitions, the organisation was looking to bring their newly defined brand and culture to life and sustain it with the help of a digital, centralised platform to connect and unify all employees.

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Industry

Data Centre, Managed Services & IT Infrastructure

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Number of employees:

650+

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Number of locations:

60

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Platform features:

Employee recognition and reward, employee communications, employee surveys, employee discounts

databank-ecardsThe challenge:

DataBank has a dispersed workforce, with the majority of its staff working in the data centre facilities across the U.S. and Europe, and others working from home due to the pandemic. Breaking down silos and maintaining a coherent and consistent culture became key, especially when people weren’t able to collaborate or connect in-person after the latest acquisition which caused DataBank to triple in size. Building a culture of appreciation that was tied to the company’s goals became a priority.

Prior to working with Reward Gateway, the team at DataBank didn’t have a formal recognition programme in place and with hundreds of new employees joining the team, it was time to bring everyone together with a centralised tool that connected people to one another, the values and the culture.

JP Laqueur, SVP of Marketing at DataBank, looks after all traditional marketing and collaborates with the HR team on internal communications and culture initiatives. He arrived at the company at the beginning of 2019, and that was about a year after the company had made one of its largest of its six acquisitions to date. 

As in many integrations, the first year is spent doing a lot of work around systems, products, and financials. Culture can sometimes be overlooked or left to integrate organically, leaving organisations without the feeling of being 'one company' after a large merger. 

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The approach:

JP adds, “The first thing we did when I got here was we embarked on a comprehensive company-wide effort to really answer the question ‘who are we now as a combined entity?’ and to try to capture that in a series of messages that would become the foundation of the brand and the culture.”

JP and the team at DataBank hosted employee surveys and round table discussions in each of the markets that they operate in, alongside leadership summits with about 20 senior leaders. In these workshops, they used the company’s Purpose, Way and Impact (PWI) framework – which is a modern alternative to mission, vision and values – to craft foundational messages, identify the company’s archetypes and define what are now its three Cultural Cornerstones and four Leadership Behaviours. 

With the help of the Reward Gateway team, JP demoed the engagement platform to the CEO and CFO to make sure they were bought in and understood how this would amplify the work they did to build the archetypes and behaviours behind the newly-clarified brand and culture messaging. The CTO was also brought in to check the box on security systems and integrations on the backend, including Single Sign-On, Slack and Office 365. 

Reaching this point wouldn’t have been possible without the strong backing of the leadership, the entire C-suite and the CEO. JP says, 

It's critical to have those messages and those behaviours and for there to be buy-in across the organisation, people need to feel like they're meaningful. If you have that then the Reward Gateway platform becomes incredibly powerful.

Once these stakeholders were bought in, the marketing and HR teams collaborated with Reward Gateway’s Implementation Team to build out the platform and bring everything to life on 'The DataBank Vault,' the internally rebranded Reward Gateway site. 

Prior to JP joining, DataBank did not have any formal company-wide reward and recognition programme in place. There were some departmental recognitions that were done with ad-hoc gift cards and emails for general things like teamwork, but these weren’t connected to the culture or tied to the archetypes, nor was it centralized across DataBank’s sites. Now, with the right culture drivers in place, there was a foundation of behaviors that could support a company-wide reward and recognition program, but the team needed a framework around which to structure one.

JP adds,“This is where Reward Gateway's Client Success Team became a huge asset to us as we were building this out. I have to give a huge shout out to Klara Owens and Jeff Sanchez, at Reward Gateway, for their help here. They provided us tons of best practices and content to dig into this and helped us think through the question ‘what could a reward and recognition system look like?’”

Working with Reward Gateway, JP and the team created a tiered-recognition approach focused on the three Cultural Cornerstones and the four Leadership Behaviors, including:

DataBank Way award: This award recognises the impact an individual has had on DataBank’s company and culture by exemplifying the Cultural Cornerstones and Leadership Behaviours. All employees have an opportunity to nominate any employee in any department once a quarter, which are reviewed at the end of the quarter and a winner is selected by the Leadership Team.
Criterion awards: Leaders and managers can send a monetary award to an employee when they go 'above and beyond'' to demonstrate the Cultural Cornerstones or Leadership Behaviours. There are three levels, depending on the employees’ impact on the company or actions, including bronze, silver or gold. Employees receive an Instant Award with a personalised message from leadership and can redeem it through the Reward Marketplace.
Kudos: This is one of the non-monetary eCard categories. These can be used to recognise a team member for exemplifying the Cultural Cornerstones or Leadership Behaviours in their day-to-day that help build a great work environment, for example, 'take extreme ownership.' 
High Fives: This is the other non-monetary eCard category. The high fives are used to send a personalised greeting to employees and include general categories, like 'welcome to the team' or 'happy anniversary.'

Alongside reward and recognition, DataBank uses the Vault as a critical organisational communication hub housing employee blogs, each with a different purpose and message for employees, plus regular updates on changing workplace policies, new hires and other important news. 

  • Raul's Desk: This is the CEO's newsletter. Raul typically posts monthly, but does so more frequently if there’s an important announcement. The blog includes a recording of the all-hands meetings, which gives employees insight into what’s happening across the organisation.
  • How We Work: Different department heads contribute as a way to help the rest of the organisation understand what that department does or how they work. 
  • Get To Know Me: Employees interview each other and publish it as a blog post to increase connections. All of this was designed to really begin to break down the geographic and the functional barriers that naturally existed in a company after the acquisitions and the pandemic. 
  • Launch Pad: This blog talks about job opportunities at DataBank to give the employees insight into how the company is growing and expanding. 
  • Forward Together: This blog provides updates to both new and existing employees about where the direction the company is headed after the latest acquisition. It provides details around new tools and new projects to ensure everyone is in the loop.

DataBank has leveraged the employee survey capability, tailoring them to address various organisational needs. The team has used a combination of both serious and playful approaches to keep employees engaged. They moved their bi-annual, all-employee survey over to the platform, which helps the team keep a pulse on company culture and employee satisfaction over time. On a lighter note, the homepage changes every two weeks and showcases a new poll to increase participation – one of these asked employees what superpower they would choose.

To round out its offerings to employees and extend their disposable income, the team launched employee discounts on the platform. Employees can save through discounts at top retailers and earn Cashback on categories like home improvement, fashion and entertainment. 

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The results:

Overall usage of the site is a key indicator of how employees are engaging with new technology. The platform launched in July 2020, and at the end of September (3 months post-launch), 93% of the staff had been on The DataBank Vault at least once, with several employees now daily users. This number continues to increase, with 97% of employees now being active users about one year after launch, averaging about 2,500 logins per month.

The internal communications tools are helping connect DataBank’s hybrid workers. Over the past year, there have been 28.8k total views on blog posts, 2.66k reactions and 723 comments, demonstrating an increase in engagement, particularly with the post-integration Forward Together blog. This demonstrates how newcomers to DataBank are easily getting up to speed with company updates through the platform.

JP adds,“Today, people just love using The DataBank Vault, recognising each other, commenting on the Kudos and awards, or the blog posts. I couldn't be more pleased with the adoption and the way it's really taken on a life of its own.”

Since August 2020 until now, there have already been over 2900 recognition moments sent (including both non-monetary and monetary awards), with 93% of employees either sending or receiving recognition. The team has also seen an increase in leadership and manager participation, with 62% of all recognition sent coming from managers. 

Coming together through mergers and acquisitions means there's naturally silos that take place geographically, but also functionally. With reporting capabilities, admins can take a closer look at what’s working and what needs improvement. “The reporting features allow me to see everything from the number of logins, to how much people are saving using the discounts. The report in particular I love and look at regularly allows me to see how the peer-to-peer recognition is flowing across the organisation, and in this case between four major departments, which are reflective of how we come together as one company. It's allowed us as leaders to really continue to keep a finger on the pulse of that culture on a daily basis and figure out how to nurture it in a positive way,” JP says. Being able to see which groups are recognising other teams and how that recognition is flowing across the organisation informs JP and the team on where to invest a little bit more time to encourage cross-departmental recognition across hybrid team members.

How does DataBank measure results? The two key indicators they measure, amongst a host of other engagement metrics, are an employee net promoter (eNPS) style survey question and the recognition activity on the Vault. In 2019, DataBank hosted a culture survey to measure employee satisfaction and asked employees to rank their response to the question 'I would refer DataBank as a place of employment to friends,' on a scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The team hosted the survey again in 2020 and in 2021. 

Since acquiring new team members and launching the platform to drive a more cohesive culture in 2020, the percentage of employees who answered 'strongly agree' has increased by 16%. 

Before The DataBank Vault, there would be few informal recognitions a month across the entire organisation. In 2018 before using the platform, there were 55 total Kudos sent. Fast forward to 2020, there were 1,599 Kudos sent – resulting in an astounding 2,800% increase in recognitions. And this number continues to increase. 

databank-laptopWhat’s next for DataBank:

The DataBank Vault has successfully supported DataBank through another acquisition, which increased its employee count to 650+. The Reward Gateway team was able to create a separate welcome hub for these new employees as a way to onboard and integrate them into the DataBank culture. 

On the welcome hub, new employees were greeted by an employee checklist, FAQs, an organisational chart, training on The DataBank Vault and a poll about how well new joiners felt about the Cultural Cornerstones and Leadership Behaviours, with the option for more training. 

“The standout thing for me is that we feel really confident right now in the foundation that Reward Gateway has given us through these integrations. There is no way we could effectively do that without this kind of a platform in place. It gives us a huge advantage as we go into the future of DataBank and will help us to create a shared culture,” JP adds.

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