Workvivo has helped A+E Networks EMEA
breathe new life into its internal comms
A+E Networks EMEA, a leading broadcaster of factual entertainment, describes itself as a storyteller. Its award-winning content reaches millions of homes across the UK, Nordics, Benelux, Germany, Italy, Spain, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
The company has six offices across these locations, with its biggest in London. The rest of its workforce is spread across Johannesburg, Warsaw, Rome, Munich, and Madrid.
Through its portfolio of brands – the History Channel/Sky HISTORY, Crime & Investigation, HISTORY2, Blaze, and Cosmo – A+E Network EMEA’s mission is to share stories that matter, not only with its viewers across EMEA but with its employees too. On 3 March 2020, it launched Workvivo to help it do just that.
A+E Networks EMEA’s corporate structure went through some big changes a few years ago. Its EMEA branch had previously been part of A+E Networks US and reported to the head office in New York. But when Fox and Disney merged in 2019 in a $70 billion deal, A+E Networks EMEA broke off from the US side of the company and began reporting to central leadership in London.
Karl Burnett, A+E Networks EMEA’s Senior VP of Human Resources, says, “Essentially we had a group of entities that previously had not worked together that now came together. And there were all the usual challenges; the challenges of building a team and starting to have something feel like one team, what was in common, what was different. The dreaded synergies and looking to see how we could work more closely together.”
“And then the challenge of COVID coming along and making that a little bit harder than it would’ve been if we were able to go and be with each other in person.”
How did A+E Networks EMEA know that an employee experience and internal comms app was the right move? Karl says his team had already dipped their toe in the water by adapting an old conference app, which they were using to communicate and have fun.
“We’d share some images of things that were going on around the organization. We’re lucky that we get to work with a lot of on screen talent, and our crews and our creative team are out doing interesting things on shoots. And we really want to share that with everyone.”
When the corporate restructuring took place, A+E Networks EMEA quickly realized that this app wasn’t going to cut it anymore. “We needed something that was going to really support the coming together of those different entities.”
A social feed was one of A+E Network EMEA’s top priorities as it would be the place for employees to share images and videos, a crucial aspect of A+E Networks EMEA’s culture.
“We wanted it to be an intranet, so a place to store documents and templates and so on and to be able to search within that storage. Video was always going to be really important for us, so it needed to work well with video. We wanted a traditional newsfeed.”
“It was quite important for us that we could segment the audiences. Because we had these different teams coming together, it’s really important that if we’re updating the Hammersmith team about the new Greggs that is opening, we don’t want to offend our colleagues in Italy who would never consider eating a sausage roll.
“But more seriously, being able to target the messaging was really important. And I guess as we then got into the tender process, we were finding out more and more about the capability of these platforms. And so suddenly it was things like podcasts and live streams, live feeds, survey tools, poll tools, org charts – all of these other functionalities that we could see were available to us.”
VP HUMAN RESOURCES EMEA at A+E NETWORKS EMEA
KARL BURNETT | VP HUMAN RESOURCES – A+E NETWORKS EMEA
When it came to deciding on the right platform for their people, Karl and his team chose Workvivo. The app ticked all of their boxes, he says, and they were sold on the look and feel of it.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here having this discussion if I didn’t really, really feel that Workvivo is a terrific product. Our Workvivo account manager feels like an extension of our internal comms team really. And so we also liked the team very much.”
“But it was really that there was synchrony between what Workvivo wanted to achieve in organizations and exactly what we wanted to achieve in our organization. There just seemed to be a lot in common. And whereas some of the other platforms had ideas that somewhat jarred with what we wanted to achieve, Workvivo was very much in harmony with what we were looking to deliver for our teams.”
Number of likes from 89% of the A+E Networks EMEA team over the course of Workvivo’s first year
Number of weeks it took to implement and launch The BASE – Workvivo boasts incredible time to value
Number of videos posted in the first year – that’s almost one video per day!
Percentage of users registered – Workvivo has unrivalled adoption rates
A+E Networks EMEA had its Workvivo app up and running in just three weeks. Karl and his colleagues were eager to drum up interest in advance of its official launch, so they ran a seven-day internal teaser campaign. They sent out cryptic company-wide emails counting down the days until it
“I was worried by the countdown when we had two days to go, I was thinking, ‘Are we going to disappoint people? Are they hoping for a huge party or something?’ But actually, they loved the launch and it went down really well.
Accessibility made a big difference. Employees could start logging in to Workvivo via desktop or the smartphone app, whichever they felt most comfortable with.
A+E Networks EMEA named its Workvivo platform The BASE, symbolizing a place where every employee could convene and call home. Everyone logged into The BASE on launch day and today, 100% of A+E Networks EMEA staff are registered and 70% visit Workvivo each week.
In its first year, the platform saw 26,825 likes from 89% of the team, with 1,224 updates and 2,304 comments. More than half of A+E Networks EMEA colleagues shared updates and shout-outs and there were 333 videos posted (nearly one video per day!).
A+E Networks EMEA also ran an employee survey in May 2020, two months after launching Workvivo. 88% of employees felt positive or very positive about the app’s effectiveness as a communication tool.
With content and communications making up some of the core projects at A+E, the company wanted to make the most of Workvivo and bring its own style to the app; it wanted The BASE to be a place where employees could visit an emotive feed and bond over stories that matter, such as the company’s BELONG diversity and inclusion program.
For A+E employees, Karl knows that messages land much better with video than text. Workvivo helped them capitalize on that.
“It’s a cliché, but communication is everything. And I think for us, as a creative organization, being creative with the way in which we do that is super important.
“So all of our messages, whether it’s our CFO giving a quarterly update, that’s a video. But it’s not just the leadership team; it’s for anyone that wants to get a message out there, get a group of people together for a reason.”
Workvivo has helped A+E Networks EMEA breathe new life into its internal comms. Karl believes that today’s employees expect to have a voice, and he wanted to give them one with Workvivo.
Using Workvivo’s features like a social feed and spaces, it embraced open communication that fostered two-way conversations. “Everybody has access, anybody can post to anybody. We don’t limit it at all.”
Karl adds that the company has never had to take content posted by employees down as engagement with The BASE has been overwhelmingly positive.
Here, Karl shares some of the ways the company is using Workvivo for internal comms campaigns.
Every 2-3 weeks, A+E Networks EMEA’s managing director Dean Possenniskie posts a video update that the entire company can watch. He records himself on his iPhone and uploads it directly to the app. This means employees get a business update from the company leader at the touch of a button.
A+E Networks EMEA also posts videos to Workvivo that deliver news and information about events and activities. Karl recently shared a video on the platform announcing the location of an upcoming off-site for staff to drive anticipation and excitement.
Embracing open comms at A+E Networks EMEA means every employee can use their voice on Workvivo. Leadership can send notifications to all staff if there are key messages they need to read or watch, which helps separate the corporate and crisis comms from the social conversations.
Besides video, some of the ways its people like to engage include photos, memes, and gifs. Some of the most popular posts are personal, such as welcoming a new baby.
“The gif in the comment is nine times out of 10 funnier than the post itself,” Karl says. “And then there’s the pets, cats sprawled across keyboards or whatever else.”
Along with videos, podcasts are another way A+E Networks EMEA uses Workvivo to champion its creative talent internally.
“We have podcasts that are number one in the Apple charts, our Crime & Investigation podcasts for example. And so for us to then go, ‘Okay, let’s create a podcast internally’ isn’t too much of a stretch. People know what they’re doing and we can do it without it taking up loads and loads of time.” A+E Networks EMEA launched its weekly internal podcast series BASEcast to much delight.
NEW JOINER ONBOARDING – THE “NEWBIE NETWORK”
Using Workvivo, A+E Networks EMEA set up an external space specifically designed for new hires to join in the weeks before their first day at the company. Called the ‘Newbie Network’, this space gives external contributors access to FAQs, the company’s values, employee benefits, a glossary, and more. Setting new joiners up with access to onboarding resources and info, and the chance to get to know other new joiners too, helps make their start with the company a lot less daunting.
Karl believes that championing open comms is one of the reasons Workvivo’s rollout has been so successful in A+E Networks EMEA. Commenting on the social aspect of the platform, he says, “We love that, it’s great to see that in there. It’s why people, I think, engage with it. And you can have it on your phone and you can just check in on it in the same way you can on any social feed.”
VP HUMAN RESOURCES EMEA at A+E NETWORKS EMEA
VP HUMAN RESOURCES EMEA at A+E NETWORKS EMEA
Open communication in particular has helped make A+E Networks EMEA a healthier and more inclusive place to work.
“People want to feel included, feel rewarded, and feel recognized – it’s very hard to do these in a hybrid world,” Karl says.
That’s where an employee experience app can make all the difference. A+E Networks EMEA leaders and employees alike can congratulate and celebrate one another on Workvivo by posting hoorays and kudos. Karl believes open communication, having an inclusive and accessible hub, and recognizing your people are the future of employee engagement.
“In order to get real engagement, that’s got to be the way.”