“We’re in the business of building better careers, better leaders and in turn, better businesses,” says Nick Goldberg, CEO of LHH Penna in the UK & Ireland. “We support organisations to make sure they’ve got the right managers, leaders and processes in place to make sure they correctly manage what can be very difficult times.”
In May 2016, LHH Penna underwent a notable transformation itself when Adecco Group, the parent company of Lee Hecht Harrison, acquired competitors Penna, and merged the two organisations.
One of the toughest challenges that any company can face while undergoing a merger is maintaining a strong company mission and identity. Nick discusses how he and his leadership team used Workday Peakon to Employee Voice to identify stress-points, inform solutions, and track the impact of their initiatives as the two businesses were integrated and a new company culture was formed.
Here’s Nick’s story.
A well-defined company culture is key to success.
When our clients go through a change process, they trust us with their most valuable asset: their people. There’s a lot of responsibility on our shoulders and we take our job very seriously. We’re in the business of changing people’s lives, and as cheesy as that may sound, if you spend a day here, you will understand that is actually what happens to people when they go through our services.
That’s why it’s so vital to our success that every member of our team embodies a sense of purpose and passion for helping people. It’s the ethos that our business is built on and it all stems from our company culture.
We understand how difficult it can be to preserve the identity and philosophy of a company while undergoing change.
Chief Executive Officer
In May 2016, when Adecco acquired Penna, and integrated our two companies, we knew that we’d have a massive challenge on our hands. Through our work with our clients we understand how difficult it can be to preserve the identity and philosophy of a company while undergoing change. Interestingly, this time the change was happening to us.
LHH and Penna were successful because they both had very strong identities, but we knew we couldn’t just take one culture and bring it with us to the new business; it would immediately unsettle half the team.
What we needed was to take the best aspects of both and create a new culture that embodied our shared passion and would take us forward. It was essential that we got this right.
Why Workday was the perfect match for us.
While going through the merger, the transformation we experienced was massive. Many people left the organization, many new people joined—we moved offices, we implemented new systems, and we changed our service offering.
During this period we became concerned that we had lost some important aspects of our original cultures, and the company wasn’t feeling the way we knew it needed to feel for us to be successful. In order for us to pinpoint the issues, we looked for a partner that could help us understand our people more effectively.
It was essential that we could see things in real-time. The problem with traditional surveys is that first you give everybody a few weeks to complete them, then it might take another couple of months to get the data back, and when it’s finally time for you to put your initiatives in place, the findings are already out of date.
We knew that at the pace we were running—and at the pace that our culture was being built—that we needed to react much more quickly than a traditional survey could handle.
Chief Executive Officer
Being engagement experts ourselves, we had very high standards, and looked at a lot of providers in our search for the right tool. We thought, quite honestly, that we would have a more experienced view than most, and we’d have to write the questions ourselves. In finding Workday Peakon Employee Voice, we discovered a tool which provided real-time data and that had a question bank that was almost perfect. We tweaked one or two questions to make them more relevant to our exact circumstances and we were ready to go.
Identifying issues and acting on them immediately.
Workday helped to bring many issues to our attention, but one of the first things we learnt was that our offices outside of London had been made to feel quite isolated. I think it’s a common problem for many businesses— especially those going through change—that you can become overly centered around your headquarters.
We have 29 offices in the UK, across various regions, and we immediately sought to implement some initiatives to make the business more inclusive towards those outside of London.
One of the earliest changes we made was a shift in how we conducted our company-wide meetings. Every month we run a town hall for all our staff in the UK & Ireland in which we discuss company results, share successes, introduce new starters, etc.
When you dial in to a town hall, it’s far less impactful than when you’re sitting there in the room. Whereas initially we had only ever hosted these from London and our regional offices had called in, we now conduct our town halls from a different location every other month. In a similar vein, we’ve also started hosting our board meetings at different offices across the country.
These are small changes that were extremely easy to implement, but went a long way towards closing the gaps in our developing culture. It was only because we had Workday that we were able to identify the issues and act on them so quickly. Without it, minor problems would’ve gone unresolved, and by the time they were noticeable, the damage would have been much harder to rectify.
Tracking the improvement in our engagement and culture.
With all the data analytics we do in the business around other things, it now seems ridiculous to think that we wouldn’t be able to track engagement within our company and measure the success of all the initiatives that we had put in place.
Every morning, I turn on my computer and check Salesforce to understand the real-time performance of our sales and pipeline. What I love about Workday is that it’s a very similar experience, but rather than looking at our sales figures, I’m looking at something more important: how our people are feeling.
The ability to see how engaged our employees are in different departments, regions—or even age groups—really helps us to understand where and how to take our business forward. If I see that our Workday Peakon Employee Voice scores are improving, then I genuinely believe that our business is going to be more effective.
How Workday Peakon Employee Voice contributed to our success.
LHH operates in 66 countries, and the UK & Ireland were the first to launch Peakon a year ago. The UK arm, LHH Penna, was recently named “Country of the Year” internally for our performance, and our colleagues overseas started to ask us what we had done differently that had made us so successful.
I genuinely believe that what set us apart was the work we did with Workday in understanding how the merger was affecting our people and our culture. We tell our clients all the time that if you can keep your employees highly engaged then you’ll perform better as a business, and that was certainly the case here.
The response we’ve had from our employees about the platform has also been fantastic. They feel that Workday gives them a voice in our business—and that we listen to that voice—and this two-way trust is really, really important.
For me, I now can’t think of a world without Workday, without the real-time visibility of the things that matter most—our culture and our people. The rest of the business agrees with me.
Based on the success we have had in the UK & Ireland, the leadership at LHH Penna have taken the decision to roll out Workday Peakon Employee Voice across our offices worldwide.
Chief Executive Officer