For forty years, La Française has helped clients around the world with asset management, specializing in securities, real estate, investment solutions, and direct financing. However, with over 600 professional employees, and offices in major capitals all over the world, La Française faced a daunting challenge: encouraging employee communication and advocacy among a diversified workforce that was still getting the hang of digital ambassadorship. In this interview, Caroline Babouillard, the Director of Communication at La Française, explains how they were able to accomplish both, and make the initiative a total success.
What were the challenges that led to the project? What first made you interested in a communication initiative like this?
We had two challenges at La Française at the beginning of the project, both an internal challenge, since we were looking for an enterprise social network, but also external, with the challenge of making the La Française brand shine on social networks. We did have content posted on our social networks, but they were not really owning it, there was no adoption by employees to help us make the La Française brand shine.
Internally, we have a population that is not necessarily “digital native.” So an additional corporate social network would be complicated, I think, to implement. With Sociabble, the benefit is that it has brought a solution for both of these objectives with a single platform, basically a single tool to convince all our employees.
How do you explain its success? What factors made everything come together the way it did?
The success of Sociabble has depended on different things. First, the launch. It was important for us to have all La Française employees join, regardless of the department in which they worked. So, we brought in a dozen people a month before the launch, so as to test the platform, collect weekly feedback, and most importantly, so they themselves could become ambassadors of the tool.
On the launch day, we had a rather extraordinary campaign, with an original batch of advertising slogans, which made people identify with these slogans, with a teasing effect, and aroused curiosity about what was going to happen. On that day, a full session was organized with Sociabble, and with LinkedIn Factory, allowing them to post. All of this, with a gamification around the launch.
“Once the launch is successful, how do I keep up the pace? It is important, at each internal and external communication event, to think about how I can use and leverage my communications with Sociabble.”
After that, the problem is to maintain the pace. Once the launch is successful, how do I keep up the pace? It is important, at each internal and external communication event, to think about how I can use and leverage my communications with Sociabble, for the whole population.
The third factor, I would say, is training. Sociabble is a tool among others, and knowing that we have once again a problem of external reach, we need to include, in the social network training, all the people who work at La Française.
In order for the initiative to be a success, La Française needed to ensure that all employees felt included and informed.
Do you find that mobile is important for internal communication?
Mobile is part of the strategy, it’s part of the use of the platform. The advantage we have at La Française is that Sociabble is available for all employees regardless of their position. We do have a partially nomadic population. Nevertheless, thanks to tablets, the mobile is slightly less used. The potential for use is there, though. If it’s relevant, I’m able to capture a moment, and share it live on Sociabble, beyond my Twitter. That’s when mobile is useful.
So it’s not directly related to internal communication, but people tend to take pictures of the event, and once back at their workstation, they will publish them on Sociabble. The desktop remains their main tool, even though the app is relatively easy to use. In practice, that’s what we noticed.
How was top management involved in the project? How were you able to get them on board with the internal communication and employee advocacy initiatives?
I often say that our best ambassador is our General Director. But he was the least digitally native of all. Nevertheless, during an internal event, where we wanted to bring all the members of the Board of La Française together with the employees, we used Sociabble as our main tool. For this internal event, we collected a number of “wishes” proposed by the members of the executive board, and encouraged them to promote the wishes on Sociabble, so that the employees could vote on their favorites.
“I must say that the results have exceeded all expectations, both at the level of top management, who now have recognized the digital transformation occurring within La Française, but also from an internal communication perspective, seeing how employees were brought closer together.”
Three of the ten proposed wishes were randomly selected in a drawing. The wishes ranged from skydiving, preparing a lunch at the Ritz, a trip to Italy, taking care of animals in a zoo, and so on. It allowed us to involve the top management with the tool, while bringing them closer to the employees. I must say that the results have exceeded all expectations, both at the level of top management, who now have recognized the digital transformation occurring within La Française, but also from an internal communication perspective, seeing how employees were brought closer together.
What is important, beyond the involvement of the top management, is that it’s not just a digital story. It is obviously also necessary to add something engaging, and this theme of “wishes” did just that. It’s really both together that make it work, and there is indeed a general adoption of the tool when it’s paired with a quality event.
At La Française, they know that digital transformation only works if there’s real substance and human interest behind it.
What role did gamification play in the success of the project? Did it seem effective?
I absolutely did not believe in gamification, because it is not in my nature. Nevertheless, I must admit that it works. We have noticed that when we add these elements of gamification, it works well. For instance, when we really want to focus on a special event, all the employees get involved. We even identified some employees who are really game addicts!
“I absolutely did not believe in gamification, because it is not in my nature. Nevertheless, I must admit that it works.”
So it works, but we need to manage it, because indeed, our purpose, especially in the context of external events, is really to make La Française shine through other social networks. But we want to make it remain positive for everyone. Every month we offer the top employee a little something. It can be a croissant with coffee in the morning. It can be a little treat that we will go for, because we know that the employee has a particular passion or hobby. So it’s a symbolic gesture. Nevertheless, gamification works, and we can use it for all our key events throughout the year.
To see case studies of other employee advocacy initiatives like this one, click here. And to receive a free demo and learn what Sociabble can do to help your company with its internal communication and employee advocacy needs, click here.