Case Study: Affinity Water

Affinity Water supplies around 950 million litres of water to more than 3.6 million people every single day. They have 1,330 employees across 18 sites and two contact centres in Hatfield and Folkestone, with 500 operational colleagues. It takes quite a team to keep their water flowing and support their customers in the community.

In 2020, one of the key focus areas for Affinity Water was to improve the way they communicated with and engaged their frontline teams. With over 950 million litres of water to supply to more than 3.6 million people every day, Affinity had been facing a daily challenge in connecting with their remote teams.

Affinity Water has over 1,330 employees across 18 sites and two contact centres in Hatfield and Folkestone, UK with 500 operational colleagues.

Digitalise communications

Having never invested in a communication tool or app before, one of their key strategic aims was to find a way to digitalise their communications so they could easily connect people with the information they needed to perform brilliantly at work.

With that in mind, they undertook a 16-week trial with one of their remote working regions utilising the core functions of the OurPeople app to demonstrate the breadth of its features.

This included the image and text combination to provide succinct, visual communications, the video and audio (podcast) features to drive more multimedia content, plus the quiz, ratings, file and reveal features to make their communications more interactive.

Employee experience

For Affinity Water, the employee experience was pivotal in deciding the framework of their digital transformation journey. As Kirsty McEvoy, Internal Communications & Engagement Executive for Affinity Water, explains “internal communications are the key link that connects employee experience, company-wide business goals and digital transformation. A connected engaged workforce is a catalyst for improved business results. We have been eager to introduce a communications platform that can help us to deliver timely, dynamic, tailored messages to our different audiences”.

Pandemic accelerated need for change

The pandemic only accelerated the need to keep their colleagues connected as they were very conscious the remote teams had been based in their communities and sites, working all the way through the pandemic as key workers.

Daily use

During the trial, Affinity Water were using the app on almost a daily basis. They would plan their communications via OurPeople for the week ahead and encourage the managers on the trial to utilise the desktop version for their teams.

While digital messages play their part, multimedia messages, including video and audio, can provide greater clarity and familiarity. McEvoy and her colleagues utilised this feature of the OurPeople app to build relationships between remote teams and share successes.

For example, Regional Lead, Phil Adams, hosted a fun weekly video which helped him have face to face contact with all of his team once a week to share successes and focus areas.

These channels of communication improved feedback rates overall, with managerial colleagues learning and adapting their content based on results.

Meeting objectives

Following the successful 16-week trial within Community Operations, the OurPeople app achieved:

1. 80% of those involved in the trial actively downloaded and accessed the new app on their work phone.
2. 70% consumed information sent directly to the app & actively engaged with tailored content in the app.
3. 60% actively engaged with tailored content to the app.

“The OurPeople app also allowed us to connect with these teams in a more targeted, timely and relevant way by increasing communication engagement and giving team members an Employee Voice. The app also provided us with detailed metrics and feedback which enable us to continually improve internal communications at every step” explains McEvoy.

During the trial, we were able to connect with our remote colleagues in a way that we hadn’t been able to before. The ability to send engaging content, directly to those typically ‘hard-to-reach’ colleagues was a game changer, and for the first time we were able to create a two-way mechanism through polls, ratings and quizzes.

OurPeople goes company wide at Affinity Water

Affinity Water have decided to launch the OurPeople app companywide with all 1300 colleagues from across the organisation using the app. This includes their frontline remote teams and contact centre teams, as well as their support functions such as HR, Finance and IT.
As McEvoy summarises, “it’s a very simple and effective tool that can make a huge difference to any Internal Communications team. If you’re looking for a platform that will enable you to provide instant, engaging and tailored communications to colleagues, then this is for you. The metrics offering is fantastic, with real-time data just a click away; and the ability for line managers to get involved and utilise the platform to drive communications within their own business areas, is a brilliant advantage”.

It really is a one-stop shop for providing engaging, succinct and two-way communications to those hard to reach teams. The desktop version allows great control and measurement for IC teams and managers, while the app is super easy to use and helps users to stay on track and connected to the latest company and team updates

Kirsty McEvoy, Internal Communications & Engagement Executive

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