Streamline internal communication to strengthen ties
Established in the Toulouse region for more than 65 years, Socotrap's core business is construction work. However, since the beginning of the 2000s, the company has developed in the fields of general contracting and design-build in all sectors of activity (health, industrial, tertiary, major projects, civil engineering, etc.). The SME cultivates among its 150 employees its family and team spirit which have always been in its DNA.
« Our employees regularly asked to be more involved, better informed about strategies, upcoming projects, ongoing or completed construction sites. They also wanted to be able to share their ideas and achievements with their colleagues. We thus wanted an intuitive digital solution that would allow everyone to express themselves, promote exchanges and enhance the value of everyone’s work within the company. »
Gaëlle Gavalda – Human Resources & Recruitment Manager, Socotrap
During the second semester of 2019, Olivier Truc, Socotrap’s General Manager assigned in 2018, asked the HR department to implement a digital solution. The main objective is to allow employees to express themselves and stimulate exchanges within the organization, but also to revitalize the sector’s image among potential candidates by highlighting the use of modern technologies. The second objective is to provide a tool to the managers so they have a way to take the pulse (motivation and commitment) of their teams.
Socotrap has chosen Zest and, thanks to its great capacity of configuration and simplicity of use, the solution is quickly put to use by the ETAM teams (Employees, Technicians and Supervisors) and executives, who represent 75% of all employees, i.e. about 100 people.
Zest’s features will be used to develop 4 main areas:
Recently, HR had been observing the need for more top-down communication during annual employee performance reviews. And, although information was easily transmitted within the company, not all of the important topics for employees were being identified.
In June 2020, Socotrap used the Polls module of the Listen solution, one of the 3 Zest’s pillars, to launch its first survey among employees.
« We used one of the poll templates provided by the solution and adapted it to our needs. Not surprisingly, the response rate was very high, with 75% of employees participating in the survey. The results encouraged us to implement a simple and quick action to meet the need of information expressed by them: a quarterly newsletter that recaps key moments in the life of the company and highlights teams or projects. A solution that is rewarding to employees. »
This newsletter is a way of providing a concrete answer, showing our teams that the company is listening to them and that their opinion is taken into account.
Socotrap regularly gets their employees involved in the company’s life by taking polls on specific topics: the relocation of the head office, their needs in terms of telephony equipment or computer tools for remote work, etc.
Several of the topics suggested in the Zest tool, such as the impact of the Covid pandemic or telecommuting, were used by Socotrap to better support collaborators during the health crisis. These polls helped the HR departments, who were facing a heavy workload themselves, not to neglect their employees.
The response rate of approximately 75%, proves this need for employees involvement in the life of their company. But the polls must be a starting point and it is important to transform the results into concrete actions.
Socotrap’s HR team began using Zest’s Engagement Meter to identify motivational levers for careers and training. They found that a quarterly frequency with the same questions was excessive and generated fatigue. The participation rate was about 40% and the answers were increasingly anonymous. The HR team decided to change to biannual Egagement Meters.
However, the Engagement Meter also revealed a need for more transparency and communication. Training courses were especially generating frustration because some trainings are mandatory and therefore have priority. But the training budget is limited, so the company cannot meet all requests, which was not always clear to employees. As far as careers are concerned, the lack of communication on this point can lead to a lack of clarity for some employees regarding their personal progress.
« Even though information spreads quite well within the company, Zest’s engagement meter allowed us to identify important topics for employees that are real sources of frustration and that we were not addressing in a sufficiently transparent way. »
By allowing employees to propose their ideas and innovations to improve the company, Socotrap boosts their commitment and creates emulation. Then, recognizing their contribution and valuing them, by quoting them in the quarterly newsletter for example, is an essential point.
On the other hand, offering a space for informal online exchanges not only stimulates conversations, but also allows problems to be detected and therefore more quickly resolved. Some employees express themselves more naturally than others, but Gaëlle Gavalda emphasizes that Zest has made employees less afraid of talking: they would initiate discussions that they would not have initiated by e-mail, because they are too formal, and even less so verbally.
By giving employees the opportunity to express themselves via Zest, the company can identify issues that are important to them, detect areas for progress or innovation and improve working conditions, among other things. And by centralizing the information reported via the tool, a record can be kept. This information can then be used during performance evaluation reviews to validate certain skills.
Via the Feedback module of Zest’s Share pillar, the Occitan SME allows personnel on construction sites to post photos of work in progress or completed projects. All employees can react by posting a comment or congratulating their colleagues. These “virtual” encounters also help to humanize exchanges between people who sometimes don’t see each in person.
The personnel from the administrative services can see a site they are working on indirectly and congratulate their colleagues. This strengthens the team spirit, the sense of belonging, and also the pride of having achieved great things together, each in their own role.
The construction industry often suffers from an old-fashioned image, even though it uses modern skills to carry out projects that are often extremely technical. Socotrap wanted its employees to be proud to belong to a dynamic and innovative company, but also to attract new talent by emphasizing the use of a new generation tool for its internal communication.
The quality system implemented by the company requires it to identify discrepancies, i.e. malfunctions in its quality system, in order to study them and continuously improve the system. This specific use of Zest was a key point for Socotrap because the systems and processes they were using were very complex to manage. As a result, employees were reporting fewer and fewer discrepancies and were becoming disengaged.
Because Zest has become the primary internal communication channel, they now use Zest’s Feedbacks to report all discrepancies that the company previously had a hard time getting and centralizing. Communication is smoother, so issues are addressed more quickly.
Socotrap’s HR department notes that #MyFirstFeedback has in fact already been used numerous times to report discrepancies!
Socotrap needs to boost its annual performance reviews, which are mandatory but often perceived as unnecessary because they do not fully meet expectations. Moreover, these interviews are not always of the same interest depending on the collaborator’s profile (manager vs. worker).
The company wishes to give managers more independence, but also allow employees to define their objectives and the evaluate their performance. It also wants to make exchanges between managers and their teams more fluid, to quickly identify blocking or important points. Thanks to Zest’s regular monthly or quarterly Check-ins, for example, managers will be able to address only the key issues and a framework for conversation will help them stay focused on the essentials.
At Socotrap, we are convinced that a company lives and lasts thanks to its employees, that they are our best ambassadors. Giving them a tool to communicate and exchange is to give them a voice and make the exchange of information more fluid. It is also a way of proving to them that we take into account their feelings, wishes and needs. ”
During the health crisis, Socotrap was confronted with the problem remote work: suddenly 70 people found themselves working from home as opposed to the usual 2.
As in many companies, apart from the field workers on the construction sites or on our logistics platform, most of the employees work on site and some software was more difficult to access. Although the company had implemented mobile working solutions, including transitioning software and data to the cloud, some of the software and hardware wasn’t adapted to the sudden change in the situation.
Polls were launched to identify the equipment needed for each person to work remotely and the results have impacted the choice of new software and provided figures to justify these choices.
On the other hand, at a time when people can no longer be around each other, a digital tool like Zest helps to maintain the ties among employees and stimulate exchanges. Some employees started using the solution during the lockdown and easily implemented it in their daily routines. Zest allowed them to keep in touch with the company and to stay informed.